Making sustainable choices: Evolve and Ongar Dairy

Meet two of TOG’s partners, the world’s first plastic-negative skincare brand and a responsible dairy that supports domestic farmers

At TOG, we try to think of ourselves as a work-in-progress. It’s a healthy reminder that it’s normal for a company to keep changing, evolving and striving to be better. Of course, when you manage more than 50 work spaces in half-a-dozen cities across two countries that’s no small task, but it’s a challenge we relish nonetheless.

Two other businesses that share this perspective are partners of ours. The first is Evolve, the world’s first plastic-negative beauty brand which provides refillable and recyclable products for our bathroom amenities, and Ongar Dairy, which supplies glass-bottled British milk to all our work spaces. We’ve worked with both to significantly cut down our consumption of single-use plastics across the TOG platform; Ongar Dairy alone have reduced our plastic consumption by more than 60,000 bottles per year.

Evolve was founded in 2009 by Laura Rudoe, a long-time skincare enthusiast who wanted to create an accessible, all-natural beauty brand inspired by the wisdom her Romanian grandmother had passed down to her as a young girl. Using Goji berries, raw cacao, vanilla and more, Rudoe developed each of her each skin, body and hair-care products to almost exclusively include organic oils, butters and extracts.

These products were initially made by a family-run manufacturer, but in 2015, Rudoe opted to bring all production in-house to Evolve’s ‘eco studio’ in Hertfordshire. Now, a dedicated team of artisans create small batches of the brand’s items by hand – a far cry from the carbon-intensive, mechanised processes associated with mass production and the large-scale factories utilised in the mainstream cosmetics industry.

Evolve’s calling card, though, is its thoughtful use of packaging. All the brand’s packaging is both recycled and recyclable (either glass, card or PET plastic), with compostable grass-paper cartons, all of which means that Evolve is the world’s first plastic-negative beauty brand. Not content just to set a meaningful example in the way its products are packaged, Evolve also sources active ingredients from as close to home as possible, from fair trade and sustainable sources. The Eco Studio is powered solely by wind and Evolve purifies all its own water, too.

“Our long term ambition is to lead the change in the beauty industry, moving beyond being sustainable to become regenerative as a business,” explains Evolve’s sales director, Catherine McNamara. “This means putting more into the planet than we take out: restoring, revitalising and renewing the world around us and helping everyone to live a little greener and healthier.”

Chris Rudge, who is general manager at Ongar Dairy, has similar ambitions. His father had served as a milkman for more than a quarter-of-a-century, distributing glass-bottled British milk to neighbourhoods around Essex. But, when Rudge started working in London offices as an accountant, he realised that the dairy supplies to corporate work spaces left a lot to be desired.

Not only was the quality of product poor, there seemed to be a near complete disregard for its impact on the environment. “I was walking to work for an early morning conference call one morning, saw the streets of London littered with plastic milk bottles,” he said. “I realised we had an opportunity to make a real difference.”

So, Ongar Dairy was born, with Rudge and his team determined to transport their milk in recyclable glass bottles. The team also take great care to reduce waste and increase quality by working with British farmers. Ongar uses an unusual long-lead time ordering model and works closely with suppliers to scope orders early in advance, reducing over-production in its supply chain, too.

Alongside these initiatives, Ongar’s deliveries are made using vans that comply with emission standards of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), even though they’re more expensive to run than the diesel vans used by their competitors. “Sometimes, doing the right thing costs money; but there are many big issues that the world needs to resolve,” adds Rudge. “If we keep taking the easy or cheaper route, it’s going to be a struggle”.

Now, you’ll find Evolve hand wash, body wash and shampoo in all the washrooms and bathrooms throughout the TOG platform, plus glass-bottled Ongar Dairy milk in all our kitchens. We’re proud to be supporting two such thoughtful businesses, and pleased that in partnering with them we’ve also taken two small but meaningful steps in shaping our own sustainability journey too.

Discover more about Evolve and Ongar Dairy here

Natasha Levy is a London-based writer who covers interior design and architecture. Her work has been featured in titles such as Dezeen and Wallpaper*.