The Great Pacific Garbage Patch + the Need for Eco-Friendly Packaging
In most stores (other than grocery!) I get overwhelmed and consequently annoyed by the barrage of products available. I get a similar feeling when I open a menu that has everything from sushi to pizza on it. Curate, please! For this reason (and because who has time to go to the store), I do almost all shopping online. Yes, you can buy everything under the sun, but I can specify my search and it’s very easy to see what’s good (and what isn’t) based on reviews.
When I was ready to pick out packaging, though, I realized my virtual shopping wasn’t going to cut it. I had to step foot in Sephora and Ulta to see what options were available. After walking through a couple aisles, visions of the trash island in the Pacific Ocean started to pop up in my mind.
Google this if you’re not familiar – it’s a plastic waste pile twice the size of Texas, floating between California and Hawaii. I realized everything other than perfume appeared to be in plastic bottles, then boxed, then plastic wrapped again. I must have looked crazy, but I picked up nearly every single product in each store to try to find a glass package. I came up empty. So much plastic….I thought about how many times each Sephora and Ulta store turns over their inventory annually, and decided the skincare industry had some explaining to do.
I started asking around – why aren’t lotions in glass? It’s infinitely recyclable, and you don’t need to worry about chemicals leaching into your product like you do with plastic. Like most things in business, there’s a perfectly practical explanation: money. A glass bottle costs significantly more than a plastic one, and it also costs more to ship it to the manufacturer and then to the customer (it’s heavier and more fragile). Also, you have to purchase more up front, since there’s greater “shrinkage” (bottles that arrive broken or break during filling).
Hm. I get that companies chose plastic to maximize profits, but I personally would prefer to pay slightly more for products in packaging that is more environmentally friendly and safe. I don’t think I’m alone. When I started this project, it was to fill the void I found myself in when I wanted simple, natural and pregnancy safe skincare products. In an aisle of Sephora, I accidentally stumbled on a second mission: to reduce the amount of plastic waste from skincare products.
Glass makes a lot of sense for oils, but it’s not exactly practical for everything. I can tell you that from personal experience after shattering a small glass mixing bowl full of clay in my shower once. That bowl was quickly replaced by a small stainless steel version, which I’ll include in a clay starter kit so others can avoid my initial mistake.
What other ecofriendly options could there be? I love to cook and had an “ah-ha!” moment one night when I reached for my favorite Cajun seasoning that’s in a paperboard tube. Paper is renewable, compostable, biodegradable and recyclable. It won’t hold up in the shower, but none of my products’ packaging should enter the shower anyway.
So, we’ll use glass, stainless steel and paper when possible…I’m not able to avoid all plastic yet, but I’m working towards that goal and I like where we’re starting.