Bamboo Hair Brush by Net Zero Company

overall rating:

1.58

planets

Katie McCarthy
7/27/2022
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Net Zero Company is a zero-waste company that manufactures kitchen, cleaning, and self-care products– all designed to help their consumers lead a lower-waste lifestyle. Their products are all net zero carbon, by means of offsetting their carbon footprint.​​ They have partnered with multiple environmental organizations and nonprofits to help improve their environmental impact and give back. This hair brush is not only a sustainable alternative to typical plastic brushes but has cute detailing and a sleek design. The main issues that arise in this review are those of transparency and details about their practices. Broad statements and commitments make up a large portion of their website, which, if improved, Net Zero Company can vastly raise their score while becoming a leading business in sustainability. 

What it's made of:

2

This bamboo hair brush is made of bamboo and silicone. Both the handle and the bristles are made of 100% bamboo, while the bristle base is made of medical-grade silicone. This hair brush is better for the consumer’s hair health because the bamboo is antibacterial and the rounded bristle heads increase blood flow to the scalp to help hair grow faster. Bamboo is a fairly sustainable product, so long as it's sourced from the correct places. Since bamboo grows incredibly fast, sometimes even at a rate of 3 ft. (90 cm.) per day (depending on the variety), it’s a good renewable material. Furthermore, compared to equivalent tree mass, bamboo produces 35% more oxygen, making it a good source for carbon sequestration. It also regrows from its own root system. So, once it’s harvested, it doesn’t need to be replanted. This helps maintain soil structure, which prevents soil erosion and helps with water absorption. Since bamboo is often grown in areas that have heavy rain, improved water absorption helps prevent mud or landslides. However, the issue with bamboo comes from how it’s farmed. Because of its increasing popularity, large areas are being cleared to make room for bamboo, displacing wildlife and decreasing biodiversity. When bamboo is farmed, it’s also typically done so as a monoculture, which means only bamboo is planted and all other plants are removed. This affects fungi, bacteria, insects, and other smaller animals that rely on a diverse ecosystem for proper nutrition and habitat, once again causing a decrease in biodiversity. Net Zero Company has not provided much information on the way(s) in which the bamboo used in their products (like this hair brush) is sourced, just that it’s sourced sustainably. In the interest of transparency, Net Zero Company should disclose how they determine what is “sustainably sourced” versus not, as well as how exactly they ensure the source is sustainable. Silicone is a pretty good alternative to plastic since it’s made from silica, which is derived from sand, not crude oil, unlike plastic. It’s also a more durable material than plastic, when handled properly, so silicone products reduce how often those products should be replaced. It also doesn’t break down into microplastics, which makes it more environmentally friendly. Also, although it has nothing to do with the sustainability of the product, I like that there are two cute options for the brush’s design– one has a sea turtle and the other has a narwhal. This is a nice touch that ties together the environmental aspect of this product. This brush is also packaged in 100% recyclable paper, which can also be home composted. Their products are also either shipped in recyclable cardboard boxes, or 100% compostable mailers, which are made of cornstarch, soy ink, and other plant materials. 

 

One important feature of this product is its end-of-life disposal. The bamboo is home compostable, so after removing the silicone bristle base, the handle and bristles can be added to your compost bin. When it comes to silicone, this is typically a more difficult material to recycle, but Net Zero Company has partnered with TerraCycle’s silicone takeback program. To do so, consumers just email hello@netzerocompany.com to receive a prepaid return label. Then, once it’s shipped back, it can be recycled with TerraCycle. At TerraCycle, the silicone is then cleaned and ground into a powder, which is then remade into other products, such as silicon-based glue or track ground covers. Not only does Net Zero Company offer this silicone recycling program for their silicon products, but for any silicone consumers have that they would like to recycle! This is a huge step because it shows that they truly value sustainability by not excluding this service to only their products. Furthermore, to acknowledge the extra effort it takes to email and return the silicone, Net Zero Company will send a code for a free gift on the next order placed. Overall, the materials used to create this hair brush are pretty sustainable, the only issue being the lack of transparency and detail about the exact source and sustainability of the bamboo. 

 

How it's made:

1.25

When it comes to exactly how this hair brush is manufactured, there is almost no information provided by Net Zero Company, which is a huge issue. The only details available on their website are that the products are manufactured in a variety of countries, including: USA, Canada, China, and Nepal. They do, however, require their supplies to meet their factory audit and Code of Conduct standards to ensure that their products are produced ethically, safely, and in an environmentally friendly manner. Unfortunately, they do not specify what exactly their factory audits nor their Code of Conduct standards include, which makes it difficult to judge their production process. In the interest of transparency, this information should be made available to the general public. That way, there can be a level of accountability when it comes to their manufacturing process. 

 

On a more positive note, their bamboo hair brushes, as well as their other products, are carbon neutral products. Therefore, they have no net carbon emissions related to their products, which is a step that needs to be taken by companies if they want to contribute to a sustainable future. There is no specific information stating that they are a completely net zero carbon company, so it’s hard to determine if they are. However, they have stated that all in-bound and out-bound shipping is carbon neutral, achieved by carbon offsets by partnering with CarbonFund. CarbonFund restores the world's forests while also investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects as a way to reduce atmospheric greenhouse gasses. I would also imagine that if all of their products are carbon neutral, themselves as a company should be as well, but again, there is no written confirmation of this. They have also started shipping Canadian orders from Brampton, Ontario, which has not only reduced shipping distance and their carbon footprint, but has increased delivery speed by 20%. 

 

Because of their massive issue regarding transparency and specifics, this category is scored pretty low. However, by making the changes mentioned above, Net Zero Company can not only improve their score, but also become a leader in sustainability.  

Who makes it:

1.5

As mentioned above, there is a severe lack of information about the manufacturing process, including who makes this product. Once again, they have only offered slight insight into their production affairs by requiring suppliers to meet certain requirements and undergo audits. Specifically, they mention that their Code of Conduct covers labor rights, environmental regulations, and traceability, which are all very broad concepts and provide no detail. They have also added that they plan on improving this over time, but have supplied no insight into exactly how often and in what ways they plan on improving their policy.  

 

They have, however, demonstrated transparency in other aspects. They have a section under the sustainability tab on their website that details two instances where they have made a mistake and own up to them. For example, they describe how they over-estimated how many compostable bin liners they would be able to sell. This is an issue because their BPI-certified compostable bags only have a shelf life of 12 months. As they reach this mark, they begin to tear easier than they should. This led to 475 small and 252 medium bags to be composted without being sold. However, they have provided a solution so that this doesn’t happen again, which involves staying mindful of demand and expirations dates, so that volume can be adjusted accordingly. 

 

Furthermore, Net Zero Company has worked with Eden Reforestation Projects, a nonprofit NGO that works in developing countries to rebuild natural landscapes suffering from deforestation while providing jobs to support these communities. They have planted almost 130,000 trees and supported over 1,200 days of work. Their Giving Campaign spreads the work on environmental organizations to which they donate 10% of sales, on behalf of customers. Some of the past organizations that Net Zero Company has donated to include Plastic Bank, The Pearl Protectors, Plastic Free July, and Coalition for Rainforest Nationals. This demonstrates a serious commitment to philanthropy that is nice to see from companies. 

 

Lastly, Net Zero Company has outlined sustainability achievements, although brief, with goals they want to meet by 2025. These goals include developing completely paper recyclable kraft tape for both customers and partners, which will be verified by recycling facilities in key consumer cities. They have also committed to building on customer feedback and redeveloping any product that has a sub-4 star rating (out of 5). They also want to use greater than 50% of post-consumer FSC-certified recycled paper content in their packaging, turn any wood products into bamboo, and list both materials and end-of-life information about each of the products on their packaging (think: food labels, but for all products). When it comes to improving their supply chain, Net Zero Company has a goal to produce more than 50% of new products in North America, as well as trace down raw materials for more than 90% of their products. They also want to build on their media presence by creating content that educates, entertains, and inspires people on leading less-wasteful lifestyles. They want to expand their partnerships so they can go head-to-head against wasteful big box brands that have no intention of shifting to sustainable practice. Net Zero Company also wants to inspire K-12 education on the topics of reusables and compostables.

 

Lastly, they would like to receive a B Corp certification, which means they are meeting high standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency on many levels (e.g. employee benefits, supply chain, etc.). Although these goals don’t provide specifics on how they will be achieved, having ambitious goals with a deadline demonstrates a dedication to the environment on a wide variety of levels.