Our Goal is Sustainable, Zero Waste, ECO-Friendly, & Plastic Free Packaging
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.
What is Sustainable Packaging?
We Strive for Our Skincare Packaging to be as Plastic-Free as Possible.
But, using eco-friendly packaging and creating zero waste means more than simply eliminating plastic! It means using sustainable packaging.
Sustainable packaging is packaging that over time has both a lower environmental impact and environmental footprint when compared to traditional options.
If we really and truly care about how our packaging impacts our planet, we must evaluate the entire lifecycle of the packaging materials.
This includes resource sustainability, the extraction or manufacturing process, the design, the use, and finally the end of its life. Sustainability also includes evaluating economic and social factors in the total footprint of one material versus another.
For example, we know that packaging made from agricultural materials is significantly better for the environment than that from petroleum-based materials.
But what happens when the growing and processing of a "natural" material not only requires a lot of water, energy, and manual labor but also requires large areas of land that could be used to grow food or maintained for biodiversity?
Sustainability in packaging is not simply about using eco-friendly materials. A fancy label or marketing campaign that touts "eco-friendly" packaging does not mean that it is sustainable. Likewise, marketing "zero-waste" does not mean that packaging materials were sourced in an ethically responsible manner.
At Chagrin Valley we believe in minimal packaging and a lot of research goes into choosing sustainable packaging materials. We are dedicated to the zero-waste movement by using the best materials that are biodegradable or truly recyclable.
While we know that achieving the "zero" in zero waste is an aspirational goal that may never be reached, that does not mean that we should not try our best. This quote from Anne-Marie Bonneau says it best:
“We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly."
Packaging from a Marketing Perspective Material
From a marketing perspective packaging is extremely important.
While perusing store shelves, whether consciously or unconsciously, people often pay more attention to how a product is packaged than anything else.
A study done in 2018 by the Paper and Packaging Board showed that 72% of consumers say that packaging design influences their purchasing decision.
Packaging is the first interaction that shoppers have with a product. Since the first impression often leads to a purchase, most 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 environmentally friendly packaging from a company with an environmental conscience.
We create every product with so much thoughtfulness, and our packaging is no different.
We work hard to use sustainable packaging not because it is the fashionable thing to do, but because it is the right thing to do.
While we always try to source the most sustainable, eco-friendly options, sometimes for the purpose of functionality, we are left with few choices. Sometimess a plastic cap is all that is available. Sometimes a metal cap leaks. We promise that we will always choose the best eco-friendly option available.
We also will not get sucked into the black hole of packaging "greenwashing," in which enticing and "natural looking" packaging is used to promote the perception that a company is using environmentally friendly packaging materials when they are not.
For example, we have all seen those lovely jars with "bamboo" or "wood" lids. However, that "wooden cap" is simply a veneer that still requires an inner plastic lid in order to function. There is as much plastic (and sometimes even more) in that "natural looking" cap as a traditional plastic cap. How much has that pretty veneer added to the carbon footprint of that packaging? How much are you, the consumer paying extra for that "natural-looking" packaging?
We continue to stay true to our belief that simple is almost always better. We hope you know that when it comes to packaging, we are always striving for better. As we grow, evolve, and learn we will continue to work even harder.
What We Do!
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 some plastics can be recycled, most are not, even those thrown into our recycling bins. In some municipalities, the cost of recycling makes it unfeasible.
Statistics About Plastic
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
According to a National Geographic article published in December 2018, the people of our planet have accumulated billions of metric tons of plastic since the 1950s. Since plastic can take more than 400 years to degrade, and 91% of the world's plastic is not recycled, most of it still exists as trash in some form.
"Mass production of plastics, which began just six decades ago, has accelerated so rapidly that it has created 8.3 billion metric tons—most of it in disposable products that end up as trash."
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.
Every business collects a lot of recyclable paper so why not use it to pack items instead of tossing it in landfills?
For protective cushioning, your package is stuffed with our shredded recycled office paper or environmentally friendly kraft papers.
Check out the video to see the life cycle of a piece of paper "Patty Paper" at Chagrin Valley
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.
Any materials or products that cannot be reduced or reused must be recycled conscientiously.
Many 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 other cardboard boxes we use, meet Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification standards.
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.
We seal our packages with biodegradable and recyclable water-activated paper tape which is a great environmentally-friendly alternative to standard plastic packing tape.
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.
HOW WE CHOOSE PRODUCT PACKAGING
Knowing that no packaging is truly sustainable and that our goal is to move towards zero-waste, balancing the proper packaging for our personal care products and their environmental impact requires a lot of research and thought.
There is more to product packaging than simple design. The 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. Sometimes the packaging also has a function, for example, to allow powder to sprinkle out or to allow a product to be dispensed in the best way possible.
As we look at the ability to reduce, reuse and recycle, when we choose packaging for our products there are several factors we take into account:
- The function of the packaging as it relates to the product it contains
- The impact on our planet of the raw materials needed to create the packaging
- The carbon footprint involved in the manufacturing process
- The properties of packaging such as weight, since this will have a huge impact on transportation carbon footprint
- The "True" recyclability rate for each material understanding that the goal is to utilize packaging that can be incorporated back into a circular economy*
*Simply put, a circular economy is based on the model of nature of how nature handles "waste," a model in which nothing is lost and everything is reused.
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. We are in the process of shifting to all paperboard sifter tops, some older tubes still have a plastic sifter top.
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 has FSC certification.
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.
Gift-giving a gift is a lovely gesture. Just the word "gift" makes everyone excited. But what happens to all the gift boxes and wrappings after the gifts are opened?
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.
Cardboard is the most recycled packaging material in the U.S. According to The World Economic Forum about 91.4% of all cardboard used is recycled to make new cardboard. Cardboard is truly a part of a circular economy and a sustainable way of living for a better future.
Eco-friendly and sustainable gifts help reduce waste and also make the statement that you care about the Earth and about reducing your environmental impact.
In today's stressful world, everyone can use some special relaxation time. Give a wholesome, all-natural, unique, and eco-friendly skincare gift.
According to RecycleNation, "When you recycle your paper, cardboard, magazines, and newspapers, you’re giving paper mills the fibers they need to make new paper. Paper is soaked to separate the fibers, pressed into new paper, dried, and rolled to go to manufacturing lines where it is cut or formed into paper products. According to the American Forest & Paper Association, 80% of the paper mills in the U.S. use recycled materials in their products."
About 68% of the paper that was used in 2021 was recycled and used to produce new paper products. Since paper products are one of the most commonly recycled items, the need to cut down more trees for paper pulp is decreased.
We need to save trees! Trees act as giant air purifiers, provide oxygen, store carbon, stabilize soil, and provide food and homes for the wildlife of our planet. According to The Arbor Day Foundation, during one year, a mature tree will absorb more than 48 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and provide a day’s supply of oxygen for up to four people.
We decided on recyclable tin-plated steel tins, aluminum tins, and aluminum bottles for our salves, lip balms, lotion bars, and some oils, because they are lightweight, easy, and inexpensive to recycle.
The steel in our tins contains between 30 and 50% recycled content. Tinplate is as recyclable as aluminum.
Due to high recycling rates, aluminum only accounts for 1% of the waste stream in the
- U.S. Aluminum, like glass, can be endlessly recycled with far less energy needed versus creating a product out of raw materials.
- Aluminum is 100% recyclable. When it is melted, it is completely reusable with no loss of strength.
- 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 and recycling just one steel can conserve energy equal to using one light bulb for over one day
- 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.
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.
I use empty tins to carry soap pieces in my purse so I do not need to use soap dispensers in public bathrooms. 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.
- Glass jars are 100% recyclable and can be recycled forever without any loss in quality. Old bottles and jars can be remanufactured into new glass containers over and over and over again.
- 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.
According to Stanford University, recycling glass saves other resources in addition to landfill space.
"For example, every ton of glass recycled saves 1330 pounds of sand, 433 pounds of soda, 433 pounds of limestone, and 151 pounds of feldspar that would be needed to create new glass. In addition, recycling just one glass bottle saves enough energy from the manufacturing process to light a 100-watt bulb for four hours."
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 upcycle your used glass containers by repurposing and reusing them over and over again in order to give the packaging a chance at a second life 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.
How To Recycle Glass: Glass is easy to recycle. According to RecycleNation, "In areas where residents have to sort recyclables into different bins themselves, glass recycling is about 90% effective compared to 40% in a single-stream recycling process."
So to get the most out of glass recycling, be sure to thoroughly clean the container and instead of throwing it into one curbside bin, bring it to a recycling center. It is always a good idea to check the recycling rules for your municipality. Some require you to sort glass by color.
Where We Use Plastic
Some of the caps for our smaller bottles like essential oils are plastic. While we tried to find metal alternatives, they were either not available or they leaked.
The spray tops/misters and treatment pumps, available with some of our products, have always been metal on the outside with an inner plastic tube and protective cap. One day we took a hammer to the "metal" pumps and sprayers in order to compare the weight of the plastic to a traditional plastic cap sprayer. We discovered that our nice looking and supposedly more eco-friendly metal sprayers actually contained significantly more plastic. Sadly we fell into the greenwashing trap. We are in the process of switching all sprayers and treatment pumps to simple plastic.
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).
According to Oceana, an organization working to protect and restore our oceans,
"Plant-based bioplastics are not as ‘green’ as some think. 'Bioplastic' is actually an umbrella term that encompasses several categories of plastic that differ in how they’re made and how much of their content comes from renewable sources. First, and importantly, not all bioplastics are biodegradable (able to naturally break down into smaller molecules) or compostable (able to biodegrade in controlled environments). Confusingly, the Plastic Industry Association’s very own definition states that a bioplastic is “partially or fully biobased and/or biodegradable.”
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 in the future, 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.