So just how bad is the plastic crisis? How does plastic get into the ocean? We’re dumping more than 8 million tonnes of plastic into the ocean each year. And that plastic we think we’re recycling? It’s probably ending up in a landfill or our waterways too.
BUT! Stick with me, because by turning off or even just reducing our own personal plastic tap, we can all have a significant impact on the health of our oceans.
This is why Dion and Nora, co-founders of HiBAR, created a plastic-free shampoo and conditioner with natural ingredients. On the Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Podcast, they shared that they’re on a mission to inspire people to use reduce plastic use. Like many mission-driven businesses, the product is just the beginning of an entire zero-waste movement.
A Plastic-Free Shampoo & Conditioner: The HiBAR
Creating shampoo and conditioner bars that are completely plastic-free, properly formulated, and aesthetically pleasing is no easy task. But, through tons of trial and error, HiBAR was able to create the perfect products for multiple hair types, all while eliminating shampoo bottles from bathrooms around the globe.
The most crucial piece of creating an eco-friendly product is that it must not deprive the consumer of top-notch quality. In other words, there shouldn’t be a personal sacrifice made just to reduce plastic use. (If you’ve ever tried to wash your hair with just apple cider vinegar, you know what I mean). That’s why HiBAR’s mission is to deliver a salon-quality hair product, just without the plastic.
HiBAR’s six product lineup provides options for consumers, depending on their hair type. Each HiBAR is sulfate-free, isn’t tested on animals, nor does it contain phthalates, silicones, or parabens. HiBAR is also gluten-free and predominantly plant-based, which you might not find in traditional hair products or other zero waste shampoo options.
Whether you have dry hair (Moisturize Bars), thin hair (Volumize Bars), or even oily hair (Maintain Bars), HiBAR has you covered with a color-safe option. Their formulas have nourishing ingredients like coconut oil, essential oils, and cleansers that still give you that lather, without stripping your hair of its natural oils.
HiBAR truly stands out as a clean and safe alternative for conscious consumers looking to have an impact on the planet and their hair.
Philosophy and Packaging
There is something unique about HiBAR’s approach to both shampoo bars and conditioner bars. Instead of creating the traditional, rectangular product that resembles soap bars, HiBAR’s founders set out to create products that would subliminally remind consumers of their individual impact on our waterways.
Can you guess how they did it? The shape!
HiBAR is based in Minneapolis, so the founders have spent a good deal of time on the North Shore of Lake Superior. The funky shape and beveled edge of each HiBAR is intended to resemble river rocks! In addition to being a beautiful product that fits well in the hand, consumers are reminded each time they use the bar of our beautiful waterways and just how crucial it is that we protect them.
The environmental protection doesn’t end there either. HiBAR packages each product in recyclable and compostable packaging. Each shipment is also totally plastic-free, so you can recycle it too!
Reach and Growth
HiBAR’s modest beginnings have erupted into great success, although the brand’s ultimate goal is really to show other companies how to create products that have a positive impact. In fact, although shampoo brands like Lush and Ethique are creating cruelty-free, fair-trade, and natural shampoo bars, they aren’t seen as competitors. Plastic is the enemy, not other companies doing similar work.
We’re all in the fight against plastic, so why not do it together?
HiBAR: The World’s First Salon Quality Plastic-Free Shampoo
HiBAR was created to increase accessibility to salon-quality, plastic-free shampoo and conditioner. Founded in 2017 by four friends, HiBAR now retails in over 1,500 locations like REI, Grove Collaborative, and EarthHero.
In addition to their mission of reducing ocean plastic, HiBAR aspires to show other industries how to reimagine their products to be plastic-free. As they said on the Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Podcast, there are so many products that don’t have a sustainable alternative yet. HiBAR intends to be a mindful, responsible, and evolving company instead of traditionally successful, although they’ve mastered both, so far!
Dion Hughes and Nora Schaper, Co-Founders of HiBAR
On a family vacation to Mexico, Dion saw entire beaches covered in plastic. Once he arrived home, he saw upwards of ten bottles of various shampoo brands and hair conditioner. What if there was an alternative? After trying multiple zero waste hair care products and not finding something that fit his needs, he decided to make one.
Dion brought his idea to his friend Nora, who already had a successful bath bomb company. They added two friends to the team and realized they’d all been working towards the same goal of going zero waste in the bathroom.
The group teamed up to create the HiBAR we know today, which builds on practices in sustainability to bring solid shampoo and conditioner into the mainstream. Dion’s background in branding and marketing allowed him to think big and create an impactful, creative product, while Nora’s experience in beauty products allowed her to think critically about formulas and packaging.
“Our true competition is not other solid shampoo bars. Our competition is anything in a plastic bottle.”
Tips For Going Plastic Free
There isn’t a right and wrong way to think about going plastic-free, but the first step is simply to evaluate how much plastic you use in your household. Maybe grocery shopping is your biggest offender, or the packaging from online shopping. No matter your struggle, we’ve got some tips to help curb your plastic intake!
- Just Say No: To straws, bags, takeout containers, or anything that you can reuse instead. Carry a reusable water bottle or KeepCup and use Stasher bags to start, and see what an impact that has!
- Choosing Your Beauty Products: Even if you have frizzy hair, curly hair, dandruff, you can make an eco-friendly switch in your hair care routine. HiBAR’s formulas have something for everyone, and if you’re more into refillable liquid shampoo or need body wash and other hair care products, check out Plaine Products. You can even find razors and other essentials made from recycled plastic from companies like Preserve.
- Grocery Shopping: It’s not always accessible for people to buy everything in bulk, but when you can, that’s the best option for the planet. The next best thing is to bring reusable bags, your own produce bags, and just think more critically about choosing between a product with plastic packaging vs one without.
- Swap Shops: Online shopping isn’t inherently bad, but it pays off to make sure you’re shopping from companies with recyclable or compostable packaging, and those who ship climate neutral. Swap your Amazon purchases for an Etsy shop to support a small business and avoid unnecessary waste. Check out this list of alternatives to Amazon for more ideas!
Closing: Join the Plastic-Free Revolution
Choosing to go plastic-free even in just one area of your life can divert tons of plastics from landfills and waterways. Imagine how much your impact can amplify by telling your friends, family, and colleagues about what you’re doing to keep the planet healthy and mitigate the harmful effects of plastic pollution!
Next time your liquid shampoo is getting low, consider snagging a couple of HiBARs. One bar should last just as long if not longer than a 16oz bottle of traditional shampoo, and it’s concentrated for ultimate effectiveness, whether your hair is thin, straight, curly, or has some frizz to it. We guarantee you’ll never go back to plastic bottles again!
Additional Resources & Links Mentioned from the Episode:
- HiBAR on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook
- Bite Toothpaste
- Blue Planet Series on BBC
- Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson
- Plastic: A Toxic Love Story by Susan Freinkel
- Eating Up Easter Documentary
- Mudlarking: In Search of London’s Past Along the River Thames by Laura Maiklem
Sustainable Workplaces Manager & Writer
Jackie is the Sustainable Workplaces Manager at Urban Green Lab, a sustainability education nonprofit in Nashville, Tennessee. She’s passionate about connecting people with actionable ways to make a positive impact on the environment. She graduated from Dickinson College with a degree in Environmental Studies and a certificate in Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship. Jackie worked in the nonprofit world in Washington D.C. for Ashoka and the National Building Museum.
Jackie enjoys hiking with her rescue dog, finding craft breweries, and traveling the globe in search of plant-based eats.