I have another treat for you that I discovered at the San Francisco Green Festival last month: Organic Essence plastic-free cream and lip balm. As far as I know, Organic Essence is the first company to develop completely home compostable containers made from cardboard for such products.
Materials include Forest Stewardship Council (FSC #SW-COC-001530), Post Consumer Waste (PCW), 100% recycled paper and organic adhesive and glaze.
The lip balm tube is ingenious. It’s made with a squeeze bottom which pushes up the lip balm instead of a twist bottom. What’s more, the products contain USDA certified organic ingredients with no petro-chemicals, preservatives, parabens, or artificial fragrances.
I asked Organic Essence to send me some samples to review, and I can tell you that they work very well. The lip balm, surprisingly, does not get crushed in my purse. The cream is very thick and concentrated: a little goes a long way, and in very small amounts it can be used as a makeup remover. In larger amounts, it can be used as a massage oil. I got the vanilla orange flavor, which smells great and doesn’t give me a headache like synthetic fragrances do.
Nearly two years ago, I wrote about making my own hand cream in the blender using beeswax, almond oil, water, and essential oils. But honestly, OE’s cream made with organic shea butter works better than mine and is probably more eco-friendly, since I have no idea where my beeswax originated. Plus, with all that I do, I honestly don’t have time to make my own hand cream. Why do it when there are experts like Organic Essence with their commitment to sustainable packaging to do it for me?
However, Organic Essence does sell other products in plastic containers, so I asked if the company had plans to develop compostable packaging for any of its other offerings. Here is what the company president, Ellery West, told me:
As far as hinting about what is coming up, I can describe other patent pending packages that we have in the pipeline. All except the pump are fibrous based, biodegradable and home compostable. A toothpaste type tube with a special type of cap since the threads like those on plastic and metal caps won’t work reliably. A bottle that can hold liquids such as soaps and lotions, as well as water. A completely biodegradable pump made of latex rubber for soaps and lotions that has no metal parts; it will be reusable so the consumer will only have to purchase refills. Two kinds of novel closures for bottles and jars, which is important because standard type threads won’t hold up when made of paper or fibers. And a replacement for plastic produce ‘clamshell’ packaging such as the kind used for strawberries that shows the fruit on the bottom while being moisture resistant and biodegradable.
He also explained why the company does not use or promote corn-based PLA (of which I’m no big fan either.)
The problem with it, aka. ‘PLA” is that it uses a food crop, to produce which is GMO and is very ecologically damaging due to modern industrialized crop production. As increasing volumes of plastic is replaced by PLA, it will put pressure on food prices and will also cause even marginal and fragile lands that are currently protected to be put into heavy chemicalized corn production. Think about the ethanol boondoggle, but done in plastic on a huge scale.
Recycled paper is the real green. We are also working with using invasive plant species such as Kudzu found in the southeastern US and European Beach Grass on the coasts, among other invasive grasses, to make our packaging, so we can go beyond just being ecologically neutral and actually become environmentally positive. Imagine that, a product package that honestly helps the environment!
I am really looking forward to seeing these products become a reality in the future.
THE GIVE-AWAY: Organic Essence has generously agreed to supply products to 6 winners! Each winner will receive one cream and two lip balms!
12/22/09: Congratulations to the winners: The Raven, Slee, Karen Sharkey, Alyssa, Maggie, and Tanya! The contest is closed.
To enter the contest, please leave a comment below stating that you would like to enter and telling me what types of personal care products or cosmetics you use and what you would like to see in the future as far as sustainable packaging or ingredients.