"As a Millennial mom, I wanted to provide my daughter with truly sustainable beauty options, ones that would go beyond the standards of the current clean movement," explains Izzy Zero Waste founder and industry veteran Shannon Goldberg. "By 2050, the oceans are projected to contain more plastic than fish. If we want to give our children a fighting chance tomorrow, then we need to do something radical about reversing this cycle today."

The start-up’s debut product is a vegan, clean, reusable, recyclable, locally sourced and CarbonNeutral certified mascara. A real technical challenge, given the specificities of this type of product, composed of multiple components associated with formulas that are often difficult to clean.

US-made stainless steel tube

Evidently, the packaging plays a big part in this cosmetics innovation. The Zero Waste Mascara comes in a US-made medical-grade stainless steel tube designed to be refilled again and again, and with no plastic components.

While Izzy’s Zero Waste Mascara is made with 94% less plastic than the majority of global mascara brands, it was not possible to use another kind of material for the applicators and wipers. However, these plastic components are rendered 100% zero waste by regrinding them and melting them down to make new ones.

Izzy Zero Waste Beauty also promises low carbon emissions linked to transportation, since the brand’s supply chain is located within a 400-mile radius (approx. 640 km).

A D2C circular model

To reach its sustainability goals, the brand has created a direct-to-consumer subscription model.

By becoming a Zero Waste Member, customers can receive a sterilized refilled mascara tube that’s ready to use, every three months, accompanied by a prepaid returns envelope to send back the mascara tube when it runs out. Membership starts at US$35 (about EUR29) for the starter kit plus US$19 (about EUR16) per quarter for quarterly refills, but it’s also possible to test the mascara without subscribing for US$39 (about EUR32).

The mascara ships without secondary packaging in reusable envelopes made using recycled materials.

Designed to be cleaned and refilled over 10,000 times, once returned the mascara tubes are sterilized and refilled. “Even the water from the patent-pending triple cleaning process is reused, rather than dumped in the ocean,” claims the brand.

Other, similar initiatives have been cropping up around the world. The US company Ace of Air, for example, recently launched a moisturizer, a serum and supplements according to a similar model based on the return and refill of long-lasting packaging.