Oh, the packaging.
Let me start by saying that the term environmentally-friendly packaging is an oxymoron. The only environmentally-friendly packaging is no packaging at all. Pull an apple from a tree and take a sweet, crunchy bite. That’s environmentally-friendly packaging.
This issue has been at the core of this company from the start. I have researched packaging more than I studied in medical school. And it is really just a question of picking the least harmful package for each product. I tried to consider how the packaging was made, the efficacy for the product it would contain, and the life it would have after it was empty. The unfortunate truth is that even plastic - a petroleum product, in case you didn’t know - is sometimes the best answer.
Here is the breakdown, and probably more than you ever wanted to know (but there is no point in telling only part of the truth):
- Paper tubes: these are the 100% recycled paper tubes that we use for our bath products. They may be reused, recycled again, or composted.
- Muslin bags: unbleached cotton muslin bags for the tea bath. They may be rinsed and reused as tea bags, or composted.
- Plastic bags: used in the milk and salt bath products, these are recyclable, biodegradable plastic bags. This is a little misleading, because “biodegradable” means that after 7-10 years in a landfill, in perfect circumstances, they will degrade. But it’s a step in the right direction. Better to recycle or reuse them.
- Ecosolutions airless pumps: Osmia is the first company in the US to import these French containers. They are made with 30 percent less plastic (types 1 and 2, both mainstream recyclable) than most pumps, and have no metal parts to interfere with recycling. The reason we use airless pumps for my creams and water-based serums is to protect the product from both oxidation (exposure to oxygen) and contamination (from dirty dipping fingers). These pumps can take a bit to "catch" (to get that first pump of product out), and may require a shake or two if they are being stubborn before the first use.
- Glass pumps: used for facial serums and body oils, this acid frosted glass is fully recyclable. The pumps for these will end up in a landfill. I hate that fact, but it’s the truth, unless you have a facility that will separate the plastic of the pump from the spring inside it (and you probably don’t).
- Glass jars: fully recyclable jars, non-recyclable caps.
- Glass bottles: the Protein Exfoliating Mask is packaged in a glass container with a recyclable white polyproyplene cap (type 5). Our perfumes are packaged in glass bottles with polypropylene and polyethylene rollerball assemblies. The plastic pieces are recyclable, the silver caps are not.
- Lip balm tubes: these black tubes are made from 100% recycled plastic, and are recyclable.
- Lip gloss tubes: these are LDPE plastic (type 4) and the applicator is polypropylene (type 5). They are recyclable.
- Plastic “tottles”: a hybrid between a tube and a bottle, these are the hand cream and sample containers. They are HDPE (type 2) and LDPE (type 4). They are both recyclable.
- Soap packaging: soaps are wrapped in acid-free, partially recycled watercolor paper and hemp twine. It is all biodegradable and compostable, including the label.
- Labels: Osmia labels, except for the clear perfume labels, are made from Terraskin. It is a tree-free, water-free material made from rock and resin. It is both biodegradable and recyclable. The adhesive for the Terraskin labels is water based and biodegradable as well.
- Finally, packing and shipping materials. The gift boxes and the shipping boxes are 100% recycled cardboard. All of our crinkle paper is 100% recycled as well. We reuse peanuts and other packing materials from our suppliers, including any bubble wrap that we use. Any packing material that we don't repurpose, we recycle. And our shipping tape is biodegradable cellulose tape.