Behind Biome: The eco-store 16 years strong

It’s 1996 and we’re fighting over which Spice Girl we are or believing we can fly kudos to Space Jam. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, a rural Queenslander had finished university and spent four years on work placement in Jakarta being exposed to social injustice in developing nations. The young woman ventures out to wildlife conservation area Camp Leaky in Indonesia and gets up close with orangutans and observes roaming animals. Through the plane window on the flight out, she witnesses the tiny jungle peninsula bordered by clear-felled land as far as the eye could see. An image that would be stuck with her forever. Without the help of conservationists, this home for orangutans, proboscis monkeys and toucans wouldn’t exist, she thought. How can I help solve the world’s environmental problems with my own business, she asked.

An eco-store you should know

Fast forward over two decades, Tracey Bailey is at the helm of an online store and four Brisbane brick-and-mortars that lets people choose carefully vetted environmentally and socially responsible products. Launched in 2003, Biome is a certified B Corp, the world’s first Palm Oil Investigations approved retailer, and – one proud milestone – helped save 10 million single-use plastic items going to waste in one year.

Tracey doesn’t just give peace of mind, she lets shoppers get to know the people and motivation behind each product stocked at Biome, “We delve into the whole story of a product and its impacts. We don’t just assess ingredients, we dig deeper to review all aspects of a product from production to disposal. Each product is assessed against our strict criteria and is verified for truth in labelling, safe ingredients and zero harm to people, animals, and the planet.”

Due to the growing awareness of environmental impacts from single-use plastic, some of Biome’s most successful products include reusable water bottles, straws, bags, and coffee cups as they’re the easiest change to start one’s sustainable journey.

Tracey believes this year will see a rise in products and initiatives that are part of the solution to the waste caused by single-use coffee pods (reusable coffee pod Pod Star) and fast fashion (Biome’s Slow Fashion Department giving voice to sustainable labels and supporting ethical shoppers). A breakthrough in the palm oil free movement is also in the cards, she says.

Every individual demanding transparency makes a difference

With more mainstream retailers like Woolworths and Coles slowly beginning to focus more on sustainability, Tracey feels things are looking up for retail even though it has a long way to go with ethical and sustainable manufacturing and distribution, responsible pricing, consumer education, end of life accountability, and radical transparency across the entire supply chain.

“Transparency needs to improve to help consumers make more informed choices about what they purchase and who they support. Consumers are already demanding more transparency and when they’re not satisfied with the information they receive, they turn to other information sources to uncover the truth. Retailers that aren’t transparent or have misleading information are eventually exposed by consumers. The request for transparency will only strengthen over time as consumers become more concerned about their environmental impact.”

So, it’s good to be that guy or that girl who emails, messages or tweets brands or walks directly into the store to ask the 5W’s behind every product. We’re not being annoying or too much. We’re making a difference. But for guilt-free ease in the meantime, Biome has your back.

www.biome.com.au