Rituals & sustainability: an interview with Niki Schilling

At Rituals, we don’t just set high standards for our products—we set high standards for our processes as well. From the natural The Ritual of Namasté collection and eco-friendly refills to supporting women in Mumbai: our innovation team is working non-stop to pave the way for a more sustainable world. Meet Niki Schilling, our Director Innovations & Sustainability, who explains how and why Rituals is stepping up for the planet.

 

Why is sustainability so important to Rituals?

“Rituals is all about well-being—we value your personal well-being as much as environmental well-being. There is no planet B. That’s why we are determined to not just make you feel good, but also to do good. We strive to make impactful changes that help preserve and sustain our well-being as well as the planet’s.”

 

Rituals uses responsibly sourced ingredients. What does that mean?

“Ethical sourcing is key to us. That means that our ingredients are obtained in a responsible and sustainable way, that the workers involved in producing them are safe and treated fairly, and that environmental and social impacts are taken into consideration during the sourcing process. Our suppliers all signed a code of conduct as a way to ensure, among other things, that no child labour is used in the production of any ingredient, that there’s no discrimination, and that fair salaries and safe working conditions are guaranteed.”

 

How is Rituals making sure the environment is protected during its production processes?

“We’re determined to minimise our impact on the environment and to make the right choices for the planet—every day, in all that we do. Sticking to our “reduce, re-use and recycle” principles, we’re constantly striving for sustainable improvements. We do this by carefully designing our product packaging and choosing the right materials, for example by making our packaging 100% recyclable whenever possible. Another example: we’ve developed beautiful re-usable boxes for our gift sets, no wrapping paper needed. Besides, we’ve made these gift boxes more compact as well, to ensure we’re not needlessly shipping air, and we’ve recently replaced the plastic inlay with 100% compostable paperfoam. Considering that we annually sell around 6.5 million gift sets, these are improvements that really make a difference.”

 

Many Rituals products are available as refills. Is it really possible to help the environment by buying a refill?

“The Dalai Lama once said, “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.” I believe we have a shared responsibility to make sure future generations won’t suffer the consequences of our lack of care for the natural world—and that if we all commit to consciously making better choices on a daily basis, we can make a difference. To put some numbers on this: if you buy a refill instead of a completely new Rituals body cream, you save 70% on CO2, 65% on energy and 45% on water.”

 

I believe we have a shared responsibility to make sure future generations won’t suffer the consequences of our lack of care for the natural world—and that if we all commit to consciously making better choices on a daily basis, we can make a difference.

We often think of eco-friendly products as being more expensive. Can sustainability and affordability go hand in hand?

“Absolutely! That’s what we discovered when we developed our first natural skincare collection, The Ritual of Namasté. We managed to create the best quality formulations, made with responsibly sourced natural or naturally derived ingredients, while keeping the price affordable…  Truly affordable (& sustainable) luxury!”

 

As the brand’s Innovation Director, which sustainable innovation undertaken at Rituals are you most proud of? 

“Hard to pick one! There are several things that I’m really excited about. I’m very proud of our The Ritual of Namasté natural skincare collection, simply because the quality of the formulations is so, so, so good. And that’s not the only thing that makes the Namasté collection unique. As the only skincare brand in the world to do this, we developed an eco-chic refill solution for the day and night creams in this collection. Better for your wallet and better for the planet! What else? I’m proud of the fact that we’ve replaced the virgin plastic packaging of our new limited-edition collection with Post-Consumer Recycled PET, that we’ve substituted the plastic inlays of our gift sets with 100% compostable paperfoam, and that we will introduce a new shower foam later this year packaged in an environment-friendly eco-light can which uses less aluminium. And, lastly, I think it’s wonderful that we are introducing our first sustainable shopping bag this August. This bag is extra special because it’s hand-crafted by the women of the Tiny Miracles Foundation living in the slums of Mumbai, providing them with new skills, a steady income and thereby empowering them to create a brighter future for themselves and their families.”

 

What do you still wish to accomplish at Rituals? Any hopes and dreams in terms of innovative products or practices?

“I hope we will continue to inspire people to find happiness in the smallest of things and to take time for themselves. One of our goals is to teach two million children how to practice yoga, meditation and mindfulness by the year 2023. Why? Because we believe that kids don’t just need to learn how to read, write and do their math, but that it’s also important that they learn how to follow their hearts and to discover what truly makes them happy. When it comes to our dreams for the planet, we have set a great goal for ourselves: by 2023, we want all of our product packaging to contribute to our policy of reduce, re-use and recycle.” 

 

Lastly, do you have a daily routine?

“I do! It's a gratitude meditation, which I practice to be mindful of all that I am grateful for.”