Environmentally Friendly Packaging: Why It’s Important
Chagrin Valley is not just another skincare company.
We are on a mission to make our customers healthier and our Earth a little greener.
We are committed to healthy skin, healthy people and a healthy planet.
We know that from a marketing perspective packaging is extremely important.
While perusing store shelves, whether consciously or unconsciously, many people pay more attention to how a product is packaged than anything else.
Since that first impression often leads to a purchase, most skincare companies spend a lot of money and time on creating pretty packaging.
We believe that a company can create packaging that is both aesthetically pleasing and environmentally friendly.
Our customers are not simply looking for "pretty" packaging they are looking for eco-friendly packaging from a company with an environmental conscience. Our Packaging is Over 99% Plastic-Free!
As a company dedicated to all things natural, we strongly believe that our environmental commitments apply not only to our products, but to how they are packaged, how we manage our business, and how we live our daily lives.
Sustainable packaging, also called Green Packaging, uses materials that will reduce the harmful impacts of packaging on the environment. So …
- we use minimal packaging
- we use materials that have little environmental impact
- we use materials that are sustainably sourced
- we use materials that can really be recycled
That last bullet point is an important one that is often neglected and plastic is a great example. Although many plastics can be recycled, most are not, even those thrown into our recycling bins. In some municipalities, the cost of recycling makes it unfeasible. According to the EPA in 2018 the United States generated about was 35.7 million tons of plastic. Of that about 2 million tons (8.7%) were recycled, 5.6 million tons (15.6%) were incinerated and 27 million tons (75.6%) ended up in landfills where they can take up to 1,000 years to degrade. Although the recycling rate of some types of plastic like PET bottles and HDPE natural bottles was higher, it never rose above 29.3 percent. Source
That is why we strive to be as plastic-free as possible not only in our product packaging but in our plastic waste.
Shipping Packaging Material
The number one function of shipment packaging is to protect your product order in transit. We try to use the least amount of packaging material possible.
We believe firmly in the three "R's," reduce, reuse and recycle.
For protective cushioning, your package is stuffed with our shredded recycled office paper or environmentally friendly kraft papers. If needed, fragile materials are wrapped in a honeycomb kraft paper that acts like bubble wrap without the plastic (I do miss popping the bubbles). These kraft papers are made from 30 to 50% recycled materials and are FSC® certified to ensure responsible natural resource management.
We sometimes also use biodegradable packing peanuts made from natural, organic starch. They dissolve in water and can be thrown into compost piles after a single use.
Most of our boxes are from The United States Postal Service. The USPS has "Cradle to Cradle" certification at the Silver level from MBDC (McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry) for human and environmental health. USPS packaging, as well as any other boxes that we use, meet Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification standards. Our boxes are now sealed with paper tape.
Sometimes customers with large wholesale orders may receive materials such as plastic bubble wrap. Rest assured that we do NOT buy these materials. We are simply reusing the plastic packaging materials that we have received at our company and at our homes. It is our hope that these materials can be reused many times before ending up in our landfills.
What You Can Do With Styrofoam Packing Peanuts from other Companies
An interesting note: If you receive styrofoam packing peanuts from other companies, reusing peanuts is the best way to keep them out of landfills. If you cannot reuse them then call The Peanut Hotline (yes, there is a peanut hotline). It is America's most successful packaging reuse program.
Consumers can call the Hotline at 800-828-2214, for the nearest location that accepts packing peanuts for reuse.
Balancing the proper packaging for our personal care products and their environmental impact requires a lot of research and thought. One function of packaging is to preserve the freshness of our products--in this case, product ingredients dictate our packaging choice. Another function is to protect our product in transit to our customers.
The environmental impact is always a priority. As we look at the ability to reduce, reuse and recycle, we also assess the carbon footprint of the packaging across the entire supply chain.
We Strive for Our Product Packaging to be as Plastic-Free as Possible.
Kraft PaperBoard and CardboarD
The standard packaging for our all-natural Soap and Shampoo Bars is a simple recyclable cardboard box made from recycled paper that can be tossed in your paper recycling bin.
Our organic Deodorant Sticks are packaged in a 100% recyclable paperboard push-up tube--not plastic. The entire package is made of paper, including the greaseproof liner. That means once it is used, it can be easily recycled.
Our organic Body Powders and Dry Shampoos are also packaged in recyclable paperboard tubes. These tubes have a plastic sifter top. We have tried numerous metal alternatives, unfortunately, none of them fit snugly enough to prevent powder leakage. (But we will not stop trying!)
Both of these tubes are 100% kraft paperboard made from 95% recycled paper with an 80% post-consumer content. The paperboard that makes up our tubes meets SFI standards.
Per customer request, our Bath Teas, Hair Teas and Face Teas are packaged in a resealable kraft paper zipper pouch to preserve freshness. This lightweight packaging is made from recycled kraft paper lined with a food-grade polypropylene laminate which preserves the freshness of the botanicals. Although these bags are not recyclable we do not heat seal the tops so they can be refilled, reused, and resealed. I save mine and use them to store skincare products and other small items when traveling instead of plastic bags.
Chagrin Valley Shower Butter Bars are packaged in natural glassine bags. Glassine is simply paper that has gone through a process called calendering. Rough paper sheets are rolled through hot rollers that exert a lot of pressure. The final product is an extremely smooth natural paper that acts as a barrier from grease and air.
The glassine bags are biodegradable and compostable. Just remove the small label and toss them in your backyard compost pile.
The glassine bags are placed in a simple recyclable cardboard box made from recycled paper that can be tossed in your paper recycling bin.
Our gift selections are also created with the environment in mind using Eco-Friendly Green Packaging. We use natural fabrics and fibers and recyclable kraft boxes made from 30% to 70% post-consumer content. The kraft boxes can be reused or easily recycled.
In today's stressful world, everyone can use some special relaxation time. Give a wholesome, all-natural, unique, and eco-friendly skincare gift.
We decided on recyclable tin-plated steel tins and aluminum tins for our salves, lip balms, and lotion bars because they are lightweight easy, and inexpensive to recycle. The steel in our tins contains between 30 and 50% recycled content.
- Aluminum requires only 5% of the energy to recycle into new cans, compared with mining new ones and creates little pollution.
- Recycling steel uses 60% less energy than making new steel. Since aluminum and steel can be recycled over and over without breaking down, the quality of the recycled product is just as good as the virgin product.
- A recycled can is generally turned into a new can and back on store shelves within 60 days after hitting the recycling bin.
- At the consumer level, each can that is recycled substantially reduces the environmental footprint of the next can.
- Americans could save more than $3 billion worth of energy each year by recycling cans.
- There is so much aluminum in circulation right now, that if we recycled all of our aluminum, we would never have to make more from scratch.
The treatment pumps, available with some of our products, are metal on the outside, but the inside tube and protective cap are plastic. The misters, available with the body oils, are the same.
If you purchase our tins in a retail store, there may be a protective poly shrink band around the lid which is a requirement of the retail store in order to prevent contamination.
Please recycle aluminum bottles and tins. Cans in the landfill are a wasted resource. Every can that is thrown away is a lost opportunity to save energy and preserve the environment.
Better yet, upcycle or reuse your used tins or used aluminum containers. Upcycling uses your creativity to turn packaging or other waste materials into a "different" product by exploring new ways to repurpose them. Aluminum tins can be reused to store small items like beads, sewing needles, nails, buttons, safety pins, etc. My husband uses our damaged tins to organize little pieces and parts in his woodshop.
I wash our aluminum bottles and fill them with liquids that I want to carry in my car or purse. They can also be filled with things like mouthwash, alcohol, etc. that you need for TSA compliant traveling.
Let your kids decorate tins to store mini keepsake items--upcycling can be a fun way to introduce children to a greener lifestyle.
Our body, face and hair oils are packed in glass bottles. The caps are tin-plated steel. We pack some of our oils, for ease of travel, in BPA-free aluminum bottles.
Although glass is heavier than metal, our sugar scrubs, deodorant creams, and delicate whipped butters do not fare well in aluminum tins.
Metals are good conductors of heat and cold and the temperature changes dramatically affect the products. We decided on glass as an alternative to plastic. The caps are tin-plated steel.
If you purchase our glass containers in a retail store, there may be a protective poly shrink band around the lid which is a requirement of the retail store in order to prevent contamination.
- Glass jars are 100% recyclable and can be recycled without any loss in quality.
- Over a ton of natural resources are saved for every ton of glass recycled.
- Energy costs drop about 2-3% for every 10% cullet (crushed recycled glass) used in manufacturing.
- One ton of carbon dioxide is reduced for every six tons of recycled container glass used.
- Glass is made from all-natural sustainable raw materials--sand, soda ash, and limestone. Plastic is made from petroleum-based non-renewable fossil fuels.
How is glass recycled? Crushed recycled glass, called cullet, is combined with virgin raw materials (silica sand, soda ash, and limestone) in the glass manufacturing process. Since it takes less energy to make glass from cullet than from the raw materials, recycling glass is more energy-efficient than making it from new raw materials.
Again better yet, upcycle your used glass containers by repurposing and reusing them over and over again before recycling them. For example, our family paints glass jars for vases, pencil holders, etc. My husband uses various sizes of our jars to store items in his woodshop that he wants to keep in transparent containers.
A Note About Biobased Plastics
We have done a lot of research on biodegradable and bio-based plastics. Bioplastics are "plastics" made from renewable resources such as sugar cane and corn. While this seems great, they have major drawbacks. Growing the crops needed to make bioplastics comes with the typical environmental impacts of agriculture, including greenhouse emissions from farm machinery and water pollution from the runoff of fertilizers used in large quantities. In some cases, these indirect impacts from “growing” bioplastics may be greater than if we made plastics from petroleum.
Furthermore, at this time the new bio-based compostable plastic packaging is only compostable in commercial industrial composting sites that are not even available in most cities. This new packaging cannot be recycled and if accidentally placed in your recycling bin may actually damage the recycle stream of ordinary plastic. If it ends up in a landfill it will emit methane (a nasty greenhouse gas).
So, if you cannot recycle it, and there is no industrial compost facility in your area, it will end up in a landfill. Although the idea of using bio-based plastic may be a good one, the infrastructure is not in place to make it a good choice at this time.
For more information please read about Chagrin Valley's Environmental Commitments.
Updated October 2019
Please share your ideas for reusing or upcycling packaging materials!