maanantai 18. kesäkuuta 2012

L'occitane en provence and a bit about the power of buying.

I had my first try of L'occitane products a few years ago. I used their shampoo, conditioner and shower gel in a summer cottage in Finland. I wasn't very impressed by their hair products back then, but loved the fragrant and feel of the shower gel. Then a year later from this, we visited one of their shops in our Southern of France and I bought some of their Shea Butter and olive soaps and hand creams for my mum and myself. Time passes by and then became last summer, I found myself walking past a L'occitane shop in Helsinki when I all of a sudden saw a basket full of drier lavender bunches nearby the shop entrance. Thought they looked lovely which is why I suppose it is needless to say that I indeed went in and a few minutes later came out with a bunch in my hand. Then again just today, I visited another L'occitane boutique, however, this time in Canary Wharf. They had sales on and I really wanted to get a bottle of Verbana shower gel -in fact, even Ken was contemplating whether to get a bottle or not. We left our bottles on the shelves, but it sparked a conversation why is it ok to spend so much money on soap.

I think the L'occitane products are lovely, but I do have to admit that they do come with a higher than average price tag, which can put some people off. If you think about it only from outside, it does sound  strange even weird to spend £25-35 on a bottle of soap. At least, I would not necessarily spend this amount of money on a 250ml  bottle of shower gel just like that. Of course, it would be great to be able to do that at some point in life, but then I do not know. I reckon that a part of me would always contemplate and try to find a justification for such an expensive soap purchase. I can imagine myself thinking: 'hmm isn't that is a bit too much for a bottle of soap' and I do think this is fine (and normal) way of thinking, because it is true. At the end of the day, L'occitane products are scented soap in nice bottles and jars. This is of course, is only what we see on the surface when we pass a shop and do not know the story or values behind the product itself.

The basic idea behind L'occitane is a good one. It was founded in 1976 and one of the key values is to respect the nature. On their website L'occotane states that it strives limiting the impact of its actions and products on the environmental and on the local population. Design and packaging is made as ecofriendly as possible, and boxes, printed material paper come from sustainable managed forests and are not bleached with chlorine. The use of outer packaging is limited and  their website shows which one of their bottles, tubes and jar can be recycled. In addition to this L'occitane does not use animal testing on raw materials nor any of its finished products.The only exception is products that derive from beehives. Hence, it is not surprising that L'occitane has been recognised by such animal rights groups as Once Voice and PETA.

From my point of view, knowing all this behind L'occitane's business idea changes things to an extent. When you do know that only natural ingredients are being used throughout the production chain and that preservation of cultures that are in danger are taken into account (in other words, crops are being collected from cultivated land not from natural and fragile environment) together with the local environmental and agricultural government agencies and bodies to ensure sustainable development, the reason for your shower gel comes with a slightly higher price tag makes more sense. At least to me it is really hard to overlook the idea of contributing towards common good. I mean of course, companies like L'occitane, are there to make money and good business out of their products which is fair enough, but what I like about them, and many others, is that they also want to see the bigger picture and looking further on than just how they can make money now and today. That's good, it shows that these sort of companies have a sense of responsibility as it cannot be only taking and wanting, it also has to be giving back. I like that.

Plus, I think consumer goods are in general a great way of  giving people/consumers a power to make little (environmentally friendly or not) choices in their every day lives. I do not say that people buying e.g ecofriendly or organic products or services would be any better than people never buying them. what I am saying though, is that it is wonderful that nowadays we are lucky in a sense that we have some many options to choose from. The chances are that there is something for everyone and people can really have a say on things simply by choosing to buy something over something else. Little things tend to pile up :)

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