Commitment to Sustainability
At Earthwise Beauty we make every effort to find the absolute best quality ingredients that nature has to offer. In return for these healing gifts, we are doing our best to protect and preserve the Earth.
Our passion for sustainability informs everything we do, from our ingredient selection and product development to our packaging and shipping materials. We strive to have a positive impact on the environment with each decision we make, including seeking out local, eco-friendly suppliers, minimizing waste, giving back to environmental advocacy organizations, and educating others through outreach and by example. While many companies these days are committed to producing eco-conscious products, those products are often packaged and shipped in ways that are wasteful and unsustainable. Though it can be surprisingly difficult to find environmentally-friendly options for paper products and shipping materials, we are dedicated to finding the most earth-friendly products available for all our packaging and shipping needs, and are constantly on the hunt for better and more sustainable options.
Our commitment to the earth starts, of course, with the products themselves. We cultivate many ingredients right here on our own organic mini-farm, and we gather wildcrafted materials from local fields, forests, and meadows, always being careful to harvest sustainably and leave enough flowers and herbs remaining to reseed the area. We also source herbs from a few select US-based organic herb farms, choosing those that are local to the Pacific Northwest whenever possible. For ingredients that do not come from our part of the world, such as many of our premium oils, absolutes, butters, and teas, we only work with carefully-vetted vendors who use sustainable growing and harvesting techniques. For ingredients like babassu nut oil, buriti palm seeds, and acai palm seeds, for example, we work with local growers in the Amazon region who use traditional, non-invasive harvesting methods. In this way, we are able to support the livelihoods of these local populations and help prevent the clear-cutting of the wild trees that produce those seeds and nut kernels.
Our product formulas depend on ingredients that are minimally processed, which not only results in more vibrant and effective skincare, but also minimizes the impact that our product formulation has on the earth. We use mostly raw herbs that we lightly dry and cut up or grind ourselves, or herbs that have been prepared sustainably by the herb farm and sent directly to us. By contrast, many skincare brands use ingredients that travel a long road from farm to finished product. A typical herb might be shipped from an Eastern European farmer to an international herb dealer, then to a regional herb distributor, then to a cosmetic ingredients manufacturer in the US or Europe, where the extraction process can include bleaching, deodorizing, adding preservatives, and packaging, before the extracts are sent to yet another distributor and then finally on to the skincare company. Needless to say, this process requires a huge expenditure of energy and carbon emissions, and has an enormous impact on the environment—an impact that we avoid completely when we remove the middlemen and instead grow an herb ourselves, dry it in the sun, and hand-cut it for packaging right here in our own studio. The resulting serums, balms, cleansers, and other products are as fresh as skincare can get, and are completely natural, nontoxic, and biodegradable.
All our skincare products are packaged in lightproof glass jars and bottles with recyclable lids, and/or in recyclable paper boxes. This includes our sample and travel sizes; we do not use any single-use sample packaging. Our gift packaging is 100% natural and biodegradable.
We only shrink-band products when absolutely necessary for retail partners that require shrink bands for tamper-free evidence, and we are currently actively searching for a natural biodegradable option for the minimal number of shrink bands we do use.
Our teas are packaged in eco-friendly clear bags made from cellulose, which is a naturally abundant organic material, then in cardboard boxes for shipping. The cellulose used in the bags is derived from renewable wood pulp that is sustainably harvested from FSC-managed plantations. The bags are certified 100% compostable, meaning they can be composted both by individuals at home and in industrial composting facilities, and are marine degradable, which means that, unlike many other "biodegradable" products, these bags can break down not only in landfills, but also in marine environments.
And perhaps even more important than the materials we have chosen are the materials that we have opted not to use. Our teas are never packaged in individual tea bags or pouches, which produce an enormous quantity of waste that typically ends up in landfill sites. Most tea bags are made from wood pulp or vegetable fiber that is bleached using potentially toxic chemicals, and contain noncompostable metal staples, and many are lined with heat-resistant polypropylene plastic in order to prevent them from bursting open when in transit or in the cup. This means that even tea bags labeled “biodegradable” or “compostable” will, for the most part, not completely break down in a compost heap. We also don't use aluminum tea pouches, which are not compostable, or metal tea tins, which in many cases are not accepted for recycling.
Packaging and Shipping Supplies
To ship our products to customers we use custom-made boxes from 100% recycled material. The boxes are tailor-made to just the right size to fit our products, so there’s no added waste and only a minimal amount of fill is needed to protect the contents. All our shipping boxes are curbside recyclable and biodegradable, and are made in the USA.
Of course, our products must be carefully wrapped before being tucked away into one of our earth-friendly boxes. In place of bubblewrap, we use a corrugated wrap that is 100% recycled and 100% recyclable. We also use recycled brown paper and biodegradable starch peanuts as box fill in place of synthetic, nonbiodegradable fill materials. Unlike the traditional styrofoam packing peanuts, our starch peanuts are made from natural materials like wheat and corn starch, and we source them from a local company to minimize our carbon footprint. The starch peanuts dissolve in water, leaving behind no toxic waste, and are compostable.
In place of standard plastic packing tape, we use an eco-friendly carton sealing alternative. Kraft paper tape is comprised of a FSC-certified paper backing interwoven with fiberglass threads, layered with exclusive biodegradable laminate and finished with a water-activated, high-performing potato starch adhesive.
As of December 2020, we are phasing out a few remaining plastic single-use shipping supplies, such as shrink bags. We are also converting to a recycled-material version of the see-through pouches required by shipping carriers and customs officials outside each mailing carton.
Being an online shop, rather than brick and mortar, we have been able to embrace an electronic filing and communication system. Virtually everything is done electronically, with minimal use of paper for jotting down notes here and there.
The paper products we do use are carefully chosen to reduce the impact they have on the environment. We always use recycled paper for our minimal in-studio printing needs. We order our business cards and some postcards from a company that sources its paper sustainably, uses plastic-free shipping packaging, and recently announced that they are partnering with an external sustainability organization to investigate how to better prioritize sustainability through short-, mid-, and long-term initiatives. The remainder of our postcards and note cards come from an American paper company that has long been a pioneer in eco-friendly recycled paper manufacturing: They have been powered by fully renewable on-site hydroelectric generators since the 1920s, saving over one million barrels of fossil fuels to date, and even produce surplus energy for the local utility company. As part of our ongoing commitment to finding the most sustainable options available, we are also currently investigating a new brand of paper that uses 100% post-consumer fibers.
In the Production Studio
All of our production processes and materials are chosen with an eye to minimizing our impact on the environment. We are obsessive about correctly sorting all waste to compost everything that is compostable and recycle everything that is recyclable in Washington State, and each of our employees is carefully trained on which items go where, which is essential as city recycling rules may vary widely.
Our studio containers are all glass—including our beakers, jars, rods, and sterilizable glass syringes—or stainless steel; we never use aluminum, Teflon, or enamel-coated mixing vessels, and we do not purchase any plastic bottles, jugs, or other containers for ingredient storage needs. We sterilize our containers by hand, so no electricity is employed. We primarily use a fully biodegradable paper tape for in-studio needs, minimizing the use of plastic tape as much as possible, and we do not use disposable twist ties. We only use natural, biodegradable cleaning supplies, rechargeable batteries, and eco-friendly pencils, and strive to minimize the use of plastic pens and markers by using pencils wherever possible. We use only eco-friendly Post-it Notes, and we cut them into smaller sizes with scissors as needed in order to use as few as possible. And of course, we are always seeking out greener alternatives as they become available and are constantly reevaluating to further diminish our environmental footprint.
Because we care deeply about sharing our passion for the environment, it is important to us to seek out vendors who share our commitment to sustainability, and to work toward educating others whenever we can. If we find that a vendor is routinely sending us printed invoices or other documentation, we immediately request that they switch to email communication only. If we notice a supplier using vinyl or plastic packaging to ship supplies to us, we work with them to have our shipments packaged in more eco-friendly shipping materials, or will change vendors if they are not able to accommodate our requests.
Just as we grow or harvest as many ingredients as we can locally, we also order our shipping, packaging, and office supplies locally whenever possible, and always order nonperishable supplies in bulk to reduce our carbon footprint by receiving fewer shipments. Recent research1 has shown that ordering items in bulk for delivery from local suppliers is the best way to reduce emissions, versus shopping at an online-only retailer or in person. For example, we work with a local shipping company here in Spokane, WA, that drops off our bulk orders of packing peanuts and shipping boxes all in one trip. And of course, we reuse shipping and packaging supplies whenever possible to minimize the number of new materials we need to order.
Finally, in an effort to raise awareness about environmental issues and to support those who are working to effect positive and lasting change, we’ve set up an ongoing donation program that supports a few of our favorite, carefully vetted nonprofit environmental organizations. To read more about our philanthropic contributions and find out how you can help, visit Our Part for the World’s Forests and Oceans.
- Temming, M. “Ordering from a local store can curb online shopping’s CO2 emissions.” ScienceNews, February 26, 2020.