Refuse, reduce and Recycle – that’s what Rerekura Teaurere believes in and her passion to tackle Rarotonga’s growing plastic waste problem has led her to turn her kitchen into a science lab.
Teaurere is an internationally qualified beauty therapist and now she’s doing her PhD on waste management. She’s put the two together and whipped up a shampoo bar formula without plastic packaging.
The idea came to her from her family visiting from New Zealand: they always bring shampoos and conditioners with them and when they go back, the plastic bottles are spread through her bathroom.
“I’ve used cheap shampoos and conditioners before and you have to wash your hair multiple times to make it feel clean and when it’s dry your hair is a big poof,” says Teaurere.
So she began to research shampoo bars and ingredients to use which resulted in a lot of trials and errors.
Rerekura’s daughter Tiare-Sau has long hair and she would test the effectiveness of every formula on her hair.
“When I got my formulas right, I advertised them online, just to help reduce plastic a little bit because I know it’s a big problem on the island,” says Teaurere.
The shampoo bars are largely made of a mixture of surfactants that makes the shampoo bar firm and cleans the hair.
Then she adds customised ingredients like argan oil, coconut oil, kokum butter, shea butter and cocoa butter – all of them good for the hair.
She sources her ingredients from New Zealand and they can be a bit pricy which is why she sells the bars for $20 each, but she says a single bar will last for months.
You do have to take care of the shampoo bar: I’ts best to keep them out of the bathroom and humidity. You can put them in a container in the fridge.
She also makes mozzie repellent bars, she did research into ingredients that would repels the dengue mosquito.
“I was always wondering why I was putting mosquito repellent on but I was still getting bitten and I live up towards the mountains,” she says.
She uses essential oils in the repellent and the main active ingredient is oil of lemon eucalyptus.
There are more products she is working on that are innovative and environmentally friendly.