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Soap Cafe and CSR

CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) is an evolving business practice that incorporates sustainable development into a company’s business model. It has a positive impact on social, economic and environmental factors.

Many companies all over the world including Malta, are incorporating such practices as a way to ”give back”. Such practices vary from doing clean-ups, to doing voluntary work or giving part of their profits to a specific NGO. In theory all this sounds great, but at Soap Cafe, we believe that such acts merely act as a cover up to many other shady practices.

Take for example fossil fuel companies; When massive oil spills occur, their CSR department act immediately and announce clean ups. All well and good…but irreversible damage would have already occurred with irrecoverable consequences.  The solution lies in the fact that fuel extraction is NOT a sustainable resource in the first place.

Large companies such as Proctol & Gamble which produces 1/7 of the global cosmetic brands are also using CSR as a marketing tool. They are claiming to use 25% of recycle plastic in their bottles. However, there is still 75% new plastic in each bottle, most of which cannot be recycled since it is coloured or printed.

Plastic is being seen as evil incarnate for many reasons that would take me another whole post. Most people that I’m coming across on a daily basis are now shifting to paper; From paper straws to paper cups and paper wrapping and paper bags. But my personal view about this is that shifting from one resource to another, might still not be the solution. Paper is still a natural resource and let’s face it, our plasticised life is still seen by many as ‘convenient’.  Apart from that, there is also the general idea that companies should be doing something about this.

But let me be a bit of a wet sock here. What if companies are merely just ‘accommodating’ their client’s usual habits? What if the consumer doesn’t know that it has the power to take control and really do something about it? And what if, deep down, the consumer doesn’t really want to do something about it, because it means that s/he needs to change his/her usual habits?

I started this post explaining what CSR means because somehow we all expect that others (i.e. companies) , ‘fix’ the world’s problems and that when companies ‘give something back’ they try to patch up their wrong doings.

I decided to write this post because a few days ago I came across a client expecting us to have everything in glass rather than plastic bottles. My answer to that was; ”we refill most of our products and if you wish to bring your old bottle, we can also refill it too’‘. The client wasn’t too happy about it because it was ‘extra’ work. It would have been more convenient for him to just grab and go, if it was glass.

We are still fixated with the idea of recycling and, even though we might be reducing the amount of stuff in the landfill,  few understand that recycling uses up far more energy and resources as objects need to be broken down, most often they also have to be cleaned first (thus using a lot of precious water) .

So the solution?  For us it is very simple and straight forward: RE-USE!

New companies and concepts are emerging every day, promoting shopping nets, and/or re-usable bags where you probably have a tone of bags that you never use. Using paper straws or selling folding straws as if no one knows how to drink from a bottle or cup anymore. Shifting to shampoo bars but then using liquid soap on a daily basis.

All of us as consumers, we have to simply understand that we MUST BE mindful of our actions, and ask ourselves ”why am I doing this?’‘.  Doing something just for that new insta pic on our profile, then we are the true culprits of the situation we are in now.

So, here’s my invitation to YOU. Instead of throwing your old bottles, just put them inside and old bag of yours, check what you need and then make a conscious act to refill those old bottles. At Soap Cafe we are proud to have been refilling our goods for the last decade even before it was actually ‘fashionable’. You can benefit from great quality products which have minimum impact on the environment, and which has not been tested on an innocent bunny. Best of all, instead of having to reprint labels and purchase more bottles, we give that discount to you!

So, our concept of CSR is simple. We don’t claim to be funding some charitable event or organisation. We simply give that money back to you for being considerate about what really goes in the environment. After all, there is no point in promoting natural products but then polluting the environment.

Now, this is your choice to make. Do you really want to do something about it?

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