Making ethical and sustainable shopping easy
With so many wellness products available in Aotearoa it can o en be tricky to know which brands are making a meaningful difference, and what products are a be er option for sustainability .
Today, more than 50 per cent of Kiwis are looking into a company’s ethical values when making shopping choices.* Conscious consumers want to know the ins and outs of their products – from where the ingredients are sourced from, to how they’re giving back to nature. Sustainability matters, and it’s not always simple to tell what’s sustainable – and what’s not. That’s why HealthPost is committed to making ethical and sustainable shopping simple, taking the legwork out of your guesswork. Good caught up with HealthPost’s product guardians – registered naturopath/cosmetic chemist and Best of Natural Awards judge Liz McNamara and HealthPost Mindful Brands committee member/new product specialist Meryth Dobbie – to get the lowdown on the process for assessing brands available at HealthPost. Can you please introduce yourself and share a bit about what you do at HealthPost? Liz: I’m a registered naturopath and cosmetic chemist. I set up our policies and standards at HealthPost that create the framework for the brands and products we love to support. I’m also part of the Mindful Brands committee with Meryth, and alongside our naturopath Rebecca, have the final say in whether we’ll stock a product or not. Meryth: I’m HealthPost’s new product specialist. My background is in bespoke tailoring and working in the textiles industry, which helps me look for brands for HealthPost who are responsible with their sourcing – this has been useful in the recent development of our family wellness category and for our eco-living products. With so many wellness retailers in Aotearoa, what makes HealthPost di erent? Liz: At HealthPost, we have four Mindful Values that guide all of our business decisions holistically: Mindful of Nature, People, Materials, and Transparency. These values represent the ethos we live and breathe every day. As a responsible retailer, we’re deeply committed to ethical sourcing of the products and brands we sell. We do so much work behind the scenes to find out information from brands that we know is important to customers. People want to trust that brands are doing what they say they are, so we’re asking for evidence from brands all the time about the claims they’re making. We also work really hard to justify things that brands are saying with more detail because we want to reduce the amount of greenwashing and increase the facts. Our goal is to get clear on the specifics for people so that they can be empowered when they’re shopping – with their health, and the health of our planet in mind. Meryth: HealthPost is driven by a desire to be transparent, and we hold brands accountable for the things they say. We ask for evidence and examples of how they’re putting their commitments into action. Examples include brands claiming to be palm oil-free or others who are manufacturing overseas – we ask them to confirm there is no slave or child labour involved. We expect that they have done their due diligence and know this already, and mostly, they do. I think it’s really important when you’re dealing with wellness products or skincare that you can trust the brands – you want to know that a product is good and thoughtful about how it has been made. Liz: We’ve also made it easy for people to shop based on their values. If it’s important to them to support brands that are looking after people, then they can shop the brands that are focused on social responsibility. If the packaging is the most important value for them, then they can shop the brands with mindful packaging. Meryth: Our holistic checks don’t stop when they are new; we do our best to stay on top of any changes that a brand makes and we’re always checking for new information. What do you look for in the brands and products available at HealthPost? Liz: It has to be a fantastic product of course, and we look for brands who are going above and beyond when it comes to their products. Brands who have a purpose stand out for us. It can’t simply be about putting another product into the world anymore. We love partnering with brands who are out there trying to do something better for the planet or people with their product. Meryth: We test and try the products before we stock them because we want to be sure that customers will love them. Products are shared with the wider team for feedback too. The team at HealthPost are eco warriors who love natural products – they’re our biggest advocates and some of our most loyal customers, so it is a fantastic group of people to test and try products with. Liz: It’s also an opportunity to get a look and feel of the packaging, to make sure the packaging lines up with the most common recyclable options in Aotearoa New Zealand. Many brands will say their packaging is recyclable, but whether that is true in reality is a di erent story. Tell us about your ethical sourcing process? Meryth: We have an ETHICS check as part of our Ethical by Nature Promise, that assesses whether every new product and brand customers can shop with us is a kinder choice for people and planet. Brands complete an initial survey, which asks detailed questions about many aspects of their business, with a key focus on four areas that connect back to our HealthPost Mindful Values: • Transparency of supply chain • Packaging • Environmental sustainability, and • Social responsibility. Liz and I review their answers and usually go back to the brand with further questions or to request evidence of what they’ve told us. We want to understand whether their values align with HealthPost’s values to help decide whether we’ll stock them. Liz: After Meryth and I have reviewed the brands, the naturopaths take a closer look at individual products. We’ll look at whether a product is allowable according to New Zealand regulations. We’ll make sure that the brand is only saying what they’re allowed to say, particularly on supplements because they are not medicine and can’t claim to be. And we make sure that all the other policies that we have in place are adhered to. For example, we’ve got a sugar policy for supplements and protein powder so that there are no hidden sugars where customers wouldn’t expect to find them. We also have a sustainable marine policy, which means fish oils must be sustainably certified. We also consider the formulation. Whether it’s a supplement or skincare – is it of high quality and will it achieve what it says it’s going to? Do you work with brands to support their sustainability journey? Liz: Once Meryth and I have assessed the information, we’ll let them know if they have met our criteria to be a Mindful Brand on our website. Brands often ask for feedback about ways they can do better, and we have seen many examples from brands who have decided to reformulate a product to improve the ingredients, or change to a more sustainable packaging option, or make changes in their business so that it is more sustainable. It’s wonderful to be able to have that kind of positive e ect. We see our relationship with brands as a partnership. We’re proud to be picky about the products we stock, and we also understand all brands are on a journey – whether big or small, we’re here to support them on their way in making a healthy di erence for people and planet. What can conscious consumers do to make sure they’re making sustainable shopping choices? Meryth: Here’s four questions you can start asking your favourite brands. If they care, they’ll appreciate your questions and get back to you: • Where do you source your ingredients from and what relationship do you have with your suppliers? • What materials do you use for your packaging and why? • How do you look after the wellbeing of your team? • What sustainability commitments are you working towards in 2022 and beyond? Bonus tip: Contact your local recycling centre and see if they do tours. It’s an absolutely eye-opening experience and will ensure you do your part when it comes to putting your recycling out. And to make a mindful choice for people and planet every time, look out for “Mindful Brands” when shopping with HealthPost. Will you be holistically reviewing products with this same process for the Best of Natural Awards judging? Liz: Yes totally. That’s why brands who have entered have to provide so much information about themselves as well as their products. It’s important that we get that information about the brand and what they’re trying to do. The judges are all interested in understanding the sustainability journey the brand is on.