Since 1998, Aroma Borealis has provided locally made natural herbal health and aromatherapy products to Yukoners. Their products are a reflection of the northern boreal forest and the people who live here. They also strive to create products that are kind to the Earth, and this environmental commitment extends into all facets of the business. I sat down with manager Jennifer to discuss Aroma Borealis’ Zero Waste journey.
If you’re on social media, you may have seen a post recently that Aroma Borealis had installed bulk containers for shampoo, conditioner, bubble bath and body wash.
“It was one of our most popular posts,” Jennifer tells me. This isn’t surprising, as the Yukon community clearly wants to be part of the refill revolution. Currently you can bring in any 8 oz (or multiple thereof) container and refill. They even offer glass mason jars with pumps if you prefer not to use plastic bottles!
You aren’t able to buy in bulk by weight yet, but they are working out the logistics with the hope that soon you can bring any container you like to fill up.
When asked about the reaction from the public, Jennifer says it has been “so, so good. People are very excited about the opportunity to bring their own container. The excitement is coming from all ages too, which is nice.”
Providing bulk options doesn’t only save resources and reduce waste, it’s also good for business. Jennifer says that the store saw a spike in sales with the announcement of their bulk section. It’s not just shampoo and conditioner either, you can also get lotion, beeswax and cocoa butter in bulk!
Bulk offerings aren’t the only way Aroma Borealis is trying to reduce their footprint. They offer many package free soaps and bath bombs, and always try to use reusable, plant-friendly and/or recyclable packaging. They are also exploring ways they could potentially use Loop packaging, where consumers buy items in reusable containers and simply return them to the store to be cleaned and recirculated!
The store has two composts, one picked up by the city and a garden compost which the staff bring home to use in their gardens. All the staff members take their lunch waste home. “We’re all responsible for our own waste,” says Jennifer. “For a long time I didn’t even know where the garbage bin was because we create so little actual trash!”
When I asked Jennifer what was challenging about reducing waste she didn’t really have an answer. “If anything the challenge is how to cater to all people’s needs and keep options open,” she says.
“As far as reducing waste goes, it hasn’t been challenging, in fact it’s easy, and you feel good. It’s really exciting and we just want to keep going. We’re always asking ourselves, what else can we do?”
Changing the supply chain
Aroma Borealis is also setting an example of how businesses can influence suppliers in order to reduce wastage. They ask some suppliers to send only clear bottles for some products because they can be reused over and over in store when crafting products instead of having to be recycled.
“The companies have been very receptive,” says Jennifer. This shows that stores don’t have to settle for the status quo, but can be proactive in trying to use more environmentally friendly packaging options. It also shows that local retailers have some say in how they receive products.
If you’re unhappy with the packaging in your local store, speak up about it. Make contact. The more people that do, the more we’ll see local business actively pursuing alternatives through their suppliers, and producers designing for the circular economy.
Learn more about Aroma Borealis at aromaborealis.com or stop by the store at 504-B Main Street in Whitehorse!