Our journey into finding the right packaging for OLH came right after the decision to open our own website. Gone were the days of a spartan cigar band which kept packaging economical and environmentally friendly. I loved the cigar band for the simplicity and minimal waste which it provided but it was still a surprisingly labour heavy job of designing the band, printing correctly (one misprint and the whole A4 page of labels is ruined), cutting then wrapping. With a few soaps it can actually be quite fun but with a lot of products to shift it was very time consuming for us. Probably the most time consuming activity in our small batch business after making actual soap.
The boxes were an idea I always knew I would eventually settle on once the website opened as from all the options available out there, it was the most simplest. Basically slip a soap into a pre-labelled box and post. The boxes are made with fully recyclable card and are environmentally friendly so it was an easy choice. We did use drawstring bags for a while and I keep thinking of returning back to these or at least having an option where you can choose a label-less bag over the box. I really loved the look of them as well as the fact that it is a completely reusable type of packaging. Maybe we’ll bring an option out for choosing a bag or a box if this is something our customers would be interested in (please let us know!).
Things became more complicated once we started adding products other than soap to our brand. We always wanted to keep it plastic free and we did keep it plastic free with our oils, and powder cleansers which are housed in glass. When it came to our body scrubs we also found some amazing glass jars that we wanted to use initially. But the issue of safety came up within this as safety issues can arise with glass packaging within the bath or shower. It was a concern echoed by a lot of our customers when the question was put to them (especially those with children and a few with medical conditions such as arthritis), so for some bath products, such as the scrubs, we decided to use fully recyclable PET plastic jars which are also reusable, BPA free and have a low energy output when recycling. However, for our bath milk powder we used glass as we felt that it wouldn’t have the same safety issues considering how you usually use bath milk. You would just pour into the bath water as you are making your bath and not something oily/slippy that you would fiddle with during a bath or shower.
We know that some companies do use glass jars for body scrubs and we did a lot of brainstorming on this but for now it has been decided to stick with PET until we get more feedback on the topic. It’s really not easy to decide on these things as the solution is not as simple as it seems. We see a lot of glass jars with plastic lids on the market and one thing we knew we wanted to have was aluminium lids. These are fairly accessible and although we loved the look of white lids the benefits for the environment on using aluminium lids is so much more. Aluminium is easily recyclable and one of the few materials which doesn’t take up too much energy when being recycled. It also doesn’t degrade in quality as fast as other materials do when they are recycled. So aluminium it was then. And I’ve come to love the look of them too.
Although our body oils have plastic white pumps on them as that is the most convenient way to use body oils, we are thinking of making this optional rather than something that comes with every product. At the moment the body oils are packaged with aluminium lids with the white pumps placed in the boxes for the customers to assemble themselves. If you do feel like the white pump is something you would be happy to forego then again we would love to hear from you.
Another aspect about our packaging is the materials we use to pack our orders. All our orders are packed in recyclable tissue paper and cardboard boxes and we steer clear of purchasing anything else. However, we do have a lot of packaging peanuts in our store room accumulated through receiving stock and packaging from suppliers we purchase from (a lot of them are trying there best to change from using packaging peanuts if they can and we see less and less of them in our orders thankfully). If you do find packaging peanuts in your order box it is never something we have purchased ourselves but something we are reusing as it is simply the best way to deal with them. Packaging peanuts aren’t recyclable (or very hard to recycle – most local recycling centres don’t accept Styrofoam peanuts) and will contribute to environmental pollution (therefore please do reuse them yourselves). We have tried making a bean bag out of them but that didn’t work out unfortunately 😦
So I hope you found that informative! We really welcome feedback about any of the issues brought up here so please get in touch via our website or Facebook if you do have any questions, suggestions or even insights 🙂