Plastic-Free Organic Essence Lip Balm & Body Cream
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.
I just placed my order of Organic Essence products, thank you Beth for your article!
I made a lip balm once but as you said, I can’t control the origin of the ingredients, and there are people like OE whose job is to make products, I don’t think it’s very efficient for me to start making my own (i’m not good at cooking anyway :-) )
I can’t wait to try them: lip balm and deodorant are particularly hard to find without plastic, and refill is not even an option …
They don’t make soaps anymore; they say they couldn’t find an eco-friendly packaging. Did they make liquid soaps ? i’ll ask them and post the answer.
Thanks again for the investigation Beth!
You can also get lip balms made by For Strange Women in those cardboard squeezeable tubes. I’ve been buying them for years.
where can i get this packaging?
The company that makes it is Eco Vision Packaging: http://ecovisionpackaging.com/
What a brilliant packaging. If only i found this product in my country, Im gonna use it
I will only use lip balms that are made out of all natural ingredients and don’t contain parabens or any petroleum products. I consider myself to be a lip balm connoisseur because I have literally tried over 30 kinds of lip balm. I prefer either minty or fruity lip balms, so when I heard that the Made from Earth Spearmint and Blueberry Balm was really minty, I had to try it!
If this lip balm was so thick and waxy, it would be one of the best. I love it because it is made with natural ingredients, and because it is nice and minty which makes your lips tingle. Unfortunately, it is very thick and waxy and it doesn’t glide on my lips like other lip balms do. That is my only complaint.
I would recommend it to others to try because I am a little picky when it comes to lip products, so it might just be me.
I just moved to Alaska where winters can get below 40C. I use Curel and Neutrogena lip balm. I would like to try organic products like the lip balm and I like the idea of using packaging that would be environmentally friendly – like recycled paper.
I’d love to enter (if its open to Canadians). I would love to try the lipbalm as I have dry lips especially in the winter. I’m all for the plastic free packaging!
I am a construction worker and am outside year round. I have found the organic moisturizers to really hydrate my skin. Love your packaging. Biodegadeable is awesome. If they could only find more in the construction world that would be awesome. Love your site.
I am interested to see this. We gave up making lip balms (despite pleading from our customers) because of the packaging issue. People did not like tins or glass jars as much as tube dispensers, and they are so “disposable/eco-unfriendly.
I would love to try/see these tubes. Even so, I come back to the problem that – as a tiny family business, we probably cannot get them for our own use.
I cannot wait until such packaging becomes so mainstream that it is not extremely difficult for smaller companies to easily access it.
We continue making soaps. Packaging those, thankfully, is not an issue.
I pretty much eschew cosmetics- you get what you see with me. I buy hand lotion from a local herbalist. She does use plastic containers but I don’t use it that often. My one daily need is my lip balm. I use Nanak’s Lip Smoothie and just cringe every time I buy another one in a plastic tube. Unfortunately, I’m not a fan of the tin tubs and my fingers as applicator. So, I would be very excited to try the Organic Essence product in the “eco tube”. Thanks for the info and the give-away.
My wife is telling me to enter this contest :)
We’ve been simplifying and green-ifying our home for several months now. Each new development leads us to a new product. We’ve gone from purchasing foods and products that contain more natural ingredients, and have recently begun ridding ourselves of plastic after stumbling across this site. We had gone from Carmex to Ecolips, but were never really satisfied because of the plastic. This new lip balm with compostable materials is just outstanding! I’m so glad to see companies developing more earth-friendly products!
Can I still enter?
I am still using up cosmetic/skin items encased in plastic but I’m keeping my eyes open for items not packaged like that. I’ve started buying bulk store soaps that come with no packaging – its a start :-)
PS, I have always composted, so I am thrilled to have packaging that I can recycle into vegies!
I would love to try the cream! I bought cocoa butter, but it’s tooo hard to use in the shower, where I apply moisture to my dry legs. Right now I am using a mass market lotion in a glass container. I dropped it in the shower once and I don’t k now how it didn’t break!. A cream in a guilt free non breakable package would be great.
I also would love the lip balm, I am bad about using it and my lips are always chapped. Maybe if it was more wholesome I would be better about using it.
Thanks for reading!
Please put my name in the entry. I love your blog and thanks for friend-ing me on FB. I try to use all natural, animal-friendly products. I have a friend who makes vegan soap and lotion and I try to get lip balms that are in tins. We limit our plastic and do even more thanks to your site. We have two little guys, ages 1 and 3 and I want them to enjoy the ocean as well as future generations. Thanks again.
I would love to be entered. Currently I use Garden of Eve face care, which is all natural, and Eve is very knowledgeable on her herbs. But I’m intrigue with the green packaging. Once upon a time, I was an engineer for consumer product, and I was always trying to convince the company to go into green packaging, but it’s too expensive to get the material compare to virgin material. I am no longer working there, but still am very interested to see green packaging.
the product I use now is emollient, plant based and paraban free etc, it’s very emolliant however sometimes you get one that crumbles, you never can get to the bottom of the product which means you are wasting some and lastly it comes in plastic. I am very curious to see this packaging. please enter me
Hi, I’d love to enter this giveaway because the product packaging is such a wonderful idea!
We use natural products and already abandon any products with petro checmicals. In our harsh Alaskan climate we use Jojoba oil for practically everything skin, hair & even lips but that does come in plastic bottles.
I also have about 5 tubes of Burts Bee’s lip balm and I love the mint and pomegranate. I never really thought about the plastic tubes they come in so I am happy that there is this company developing biodegradable packaging.
We sell PVC Lead & plastic free erasers/toys made in Japan that are completely recyclable. Maybe they could look into those materials for packaging more of their body care products? Just a thought. Thanks! Melanie
I would like to be entered to win this. i have given up nearly all cosmetics with the exception of perhaps twice a year for performances, due to he questionable chemicals and intrinsic waste involved in them.
It’s to the point that I’m washing my hair with baking soda and lemon juice.
I’d love to see all natural ingredients in something baby friendly for washing my infant, with a container that isnt bpa laden plastic.
I’d like to enter, please, if Canadians may.
I use mostly homemade personal care products, so I can package them in whatever I like. The issue for me is mostly how the ingredients are packaged. I’d love to find some coconut oil in glass jars in a local store. I also use some products (deodorant and toothpaste) made by a friend of my mom’s with all-natural ingredients and glass and metal packaging, but she’s facing the same issue I am with the ingredients.
I’d also like to see plastic-free sunscreen.
I really want to try these products! I only use Baby Bear Shop lip balm s- all organic and come in little tins – no plastic packaging. I just make sure my fingers are clean before I put it only lips – and no double-dipping! I also use Josie Maran cosmetics. The compact is compostable (once you remove the mirror). I haven’t found a solution for an organic tinted moisturizer or mascara that’s non-toxic/organic and not contained in plastic.
Thank you for posting this! Hooray finally someone has made plastic free lip balm, I sadly decided just the other day to not buy more until a plastic free alternative was out there, very happy now.
What a fun giveaway! I would like to enter.
My wife already uses the shea butter and I would love the lip balm sans plastic. I look forward to the toothpaste tube and a pump without metal parts. Those things kill me.
I would love to enter! I have never worn much makeup except for eyeliner. I’ve recently been thinking that it would be wonderful to find eyeliner in a metal tube – not plastic. I’ve switched over to regular bar soaps for hands, face, and hair, pretty much plastic-free. I tend to avoid most other body care products, but I would definitely love to try the lip balms. My lips get so chapped in the winter and I usually use the tub of vaseline I’ve had for ages for them – would love to have an alternative!
This company is amazing. Thanks for making me aware of them.
What a fun/awesome giveaway! I would like to enter (and thanks for the chance…)
My personal care-products are pretty minimal…but I do use them. I use Burts Bees shampoo bar and a Burts Bees conditioner (sadly, I have yet to find a plastic free conditioner option), Burts Bees Tomato bar soap, the Naked Bee facial moisturizer/sunscreen (not plastic free…is it possible to get plastic free sunscreen?!?) a local beeswax lip balm (in a metal tin) and lotion. I rarely use the same brand of lotion, but focus on getting products that are locally made from sustainable/healthy ingredients and/or those that score well on the EWG database. Lately I’ve had A LOT of luck finding plastic free options too!
I recently found a lotion bar packaged in a compostable cardboard package, and thought that was awesome! I’d really love to see more and more packaging go that way. Also, it would be helpful where I lived (Alaska) if any stores offered personal care products in bulk so we could refill our own containers. It’s just not an option here at all.
I’d love to be entered.
I don’t use a whole lot of cosmetics, thankfully, but I do have a small stash of lipstick and eyeshadow for performances, and we’re hitting winter now, when I rely on having some sort of lip/skin balm around to keep my lips and cuticles from cracking. My boyfriend also gets into the seasonal use of skin creams, as some of his scar and graft tissues can be very prone to drying out, which could lead to flaking and cracking if we’re not careful.
I’m so glad to hear about this company. Non-plastic packaging for healthy skin creams (I’m also allergic to synthetic fragrance) that’s actually durable? This is wonderful, and I’ll certainly be squirreling away to get some when we can afford it.
I would like to enter the contest!!! I use mineral make up which is unfortunately packaged in plastic but it lasts a lot longer and has superior ingredients compared to what I used to wear. I would like to find a place where you can refill your containers when you run out. In the meantime I am researching cosmetics with more sustainable packaging. I was amazed by the packaging offered by this company! I only wish that there was not beeswax in the products. I am not completely vegan but I try to be as much as I can. Thanks!
I would like to enter! I currently use body butter from the Body Shop, which is great stuff, but does come in a plastic tub. So I would love to have an alternative that doesn’t include yet another plastic container!
I just found this website, and I love it, by the way! I’ll be taking the Show Us Your Plastic Challenge next week. :)
I would love to be entered in the giveaway!
I really just use whatever personal care products come my way… I very rarely purchase them. I’m lucky that as a henna artist, I provide a service that many people who make and sell natural personal care products want, and I get a decent amount through barter :)
As for the comments about henna above… if you want henna, the absolute best way to get it is to buy fresh body art quality henna…which I happen to sell at my online henna supply store.
I’ve tried the henna bars from Lush (…reiterate statement about how awesome it is to get products in barter for henna services here:)… and I can’t say I love them. They’re great because they make henna easily accessible in malls across the country and whatnot… but there seems to be a *lot* in there other than just henna. If you’re looking for the dying properties *or* the conditioning properties of henna, natural unadalterated henna powder is the way to go! And if you buy body art quality henna… it’s MUCH cheaper than those Lush bars for the amount of henna you get…so much cheaper… and if you can find an artistic friend or are feeling adventurous, you can do a bit of body art for yourself when you mix up a batch to do your hair!
I’d love to enter this contest!
This year, I have made a couple big switches in my personal care products, with the main being Tom’s of Maine toothpaste (recyclable tube), a Lush bar of shampoo (no packaging!), and coconut oil as a body lotion substitute (I can’t do away with moisturizers altogether– winter’s in WI are just too harsh on my skin).
My ideal personal care products would only contain ingredients that I can easily pronounce, and would utilize the “refill” idea, rather than new packaging. Imagine “bulk” stations where you can bring your own glass jar/container for refills, rather than having to take home new packaging!
I would like to enter this contest. I have been looking for new lip balm. I’ve been using Burts Bees in the metal tins, but I’m not happy in the change in ownership and want to change. Also, the super dry air we have been having in the Pacific Northwest has dried out my hands to the point where it stings to put lotion on. I’m using Nature’s Gate right now, but as soon as that’s gone I’m going to change.
I would like to see more packaging that could be composted at home or that could be thrown in yard waste bins.
wow! great giveaway!!!
my daughter and I use skin free lotion, and another more .. it seem not help our skin get better from bad dry. I love shea butter. long time ago I made shea butter recipe for foot lotion and I gave to my sister and she said that she love it . it help her foot less dry. I m still looking for less soap for hair, body, and hand. I still look for recipe to find best for me and my family.
thanks for the chance!
This would be great! We go through a lot of lip balm here, and I don’t like to see that plastic go to waste at all. What a great idea.
I also would love to see more organic cosmetic companies using creative, environmentally responsibile packaging. I use some Kiss My Face lotions, soap, and other organic cosmetics for work.
Thanks for the giveaway!
I too am trying to minimize the number of products I use, mainly because of the packaging. I’ve been successful with some recipes for products, and not successful with others.
All of the ideas your company is working on are very need in this industry. Why so much waste for these?!
I would buy a product or not, based on it’s packaging.
As for products, I’m down to shampoo, oil for lotion and bar soap for washing. Sometimes lip balm.
Thanks for the contest. I d love to be entered.
These really sound great and I would like to win them!
I’m very sensitive to most beauty products and my husband hates it when I wear lipstick so I basically wear to lip gloss with a little bit of color in it and dab liptick on when I get to work (but never really re-apply it). Seriously, in the winter I worry that putting on something as simple as eye shadow will cause an outbreak of psoriasis on my eyelid (a reason to wear no eye make up is actually kind of nice ’cause I’m lazy too).
Since I use so much lipgloss/chapstick, I’m actually really happy to see a plastic free container that’s not metal.
Something that I would like to see sustainably produced is a very very mild face cleaner that has no scent added to it, no jojoba, and no other floral or botanical product added to it (ok maybe that’s impossible but I look for a very very very very mild soap).
I know that the additions of botanical like rose, sunflower, jojoba, peppermint, etc, are key selling points for a lot of organic products, but as someone with very sensitive skin and a lot of allergies, it drives me nuts to see that very few affordable skin care products (sustainable and not) don’t have jojoba or something else in them.
I guess I would just like some hypoallergenic/scent free stuff that’s plastic free or sustainably produced available for those of us who are allergic to stuff as I’m basically stuck using cetaphil products for cleaning my face.
Thankfully, I’ve weaned the spouse off of the harsh chemical soups (like the irish spring he was using when he married me) into really mild, package free (except for shipping) bars of soap from sappo hill for cleaning the rest of my body.
I’m really impressed with this packaging — in fact, I was babbling to the carpool last night about it and now everyone wants to see the products, so I hope I win :-)
I’ve been trying to go Kaizen with plastic reduction and try to make small, continuous changes in my product choices over time. During my plastic tracking week, I found that personal care packaging made up a large chunk of my plastic waste, so as I’m using up my existing stash of plastic-encased products I try to make better choices for my new purchases.
Switched from stick deodorant to baking soda/cornstarch (which is awesome, BTW). Next up is toothpaste – currently finishing up the last of my Colgate, and planning to try making my own.
Still working through plastic-container shampoos, conditioners, liquid soaps; face power and eye shadow. I use bar soaps for general hand/face washing. I also use Burt’s Bees lip/cuticle balms in metal tins, and hand lotion in their glass jar package. My liquid make-up comes in glass jars (but plastic cap).
I really like liquid body soap in the shower, so I’m hoping to find a non-plastic solution for this. I’m also a big fan of refillable containers, and wish more companies would offer re-fill packaging. I’ve found foil-pack shampoos/rinses/body wash at my local Japanese market (a step in the right direction, though there’s plastic in these packages as well) but I’d prefer using products that are more plastic-free and didn’t have to cross an ocean to get to me!
I’d love to enter!
I usually make my own balm, but I have typically put it in plastic or glass containers as that is all I could find to use.
I have also made my own cream in the past but haven’t taken the time recently.
Very cool Beth! Compostable containers? I’m impressed!! I’ve been making my own products too but never have time to make enough. I’m a firm believer that a person can never have too many lip balms!
Help! My lips chap terribly and the only thing I’ve found that works is Carmex. While they make a metal container, I admit to using the plastic tube more often, just because it means I can apply it right away without having to worry how germy my fingers might be, like I do when I apply out of the metal container.
Beth you blow my mind with your plastic awareness. I’ve cut back on a lot of makeup but my acne products and mascara all have plastic something-or-other. Even my Tom’s toothpaste in it’s metally squeeze tube still has a plastic cap. I know you use baking soda. You are like a plastic-free god.
I’ve eliminated a lot of guilt by eliminating plastics, but there’s a long way to go. This stuff sounds great and guilt free, the best kind of treat!
Ok, I am intrigued! I fight battles every winter with dry skin and struggle to find anything that works! (And the vanilla orange sounds heavenly!) I’m very impressed with the fact there’s not a packaging issue with these products.
I have never heard of lip balm that was not in glass or plastic, what a cool idea.
I would love to have a chance to win this if people in canada can be included:) I currently use ecolips vegan lip balm. I have very dry and very sensitive skin and am allergic to tree oil and to alo vera too. I use aveeno, and a canadian hand cream that is supposed to be eco friendly and while in plastic at least the bottle is recyclable. I also use straight calendula oil that I got from a local guy at the farmer’s market, it is in blue glass, I don’t know if I can recycle coloured glass here.
Very cool. I like the lip balm!
I’m so excited about the sustainable packaging! So excited that I went to Whole Foods on the way home last night and picked up some of their shea cream as a gift (which doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love to win some, too).
I use an embarrassing number of care products, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, cosmetics, sun screen. Okay, I don’t find the sunscreen embarrassing, it’s just smart, and I did manage to find one that comes in a metal tube rather than plastic.
My ‘excuse’ for this plastic packaged horror in my house is that (in addition to being a pale gal who looks anemic without makeup, and who doesn’t have the self confidence to be okay with that) we’ve already made a lot of changes in our lives, and are very evangelical about them. We’re trying to show people we share our lives with that they can make important changes without becoming the hippy vegans they fear (side note: I in fact did go on a vegan diet for six months. Turns out it’s not something I could keep up do to an inability to eat soy) The number of people who feel that I’m “hard core” for washing my cloths in cold water makes me sad.
Is this a lame excuse to keep doing what makes me happy? Maybe. But we have gotten a number of people to start using to-go-wear rather than restaurant take out boxes, and to use metal water bottles rather than single use plastic bottles (including a local non-profit that was buying cases of plastic water bottles a month), and three people who admired my new drying rack now own one themselves. Just a few examples.
But I am constantly searching for more sustainable personal care products, and when I find them I become as enthusiastic about talking about them as I am my solar and my reusable produce bags.
Could I be doing better? Of course. But do I get points for being honest?
Sure, enter me in the drawing! Just fyi, re henna, I’ve had more than one pro hair person tell me not to use it, because it’s terrible for hair — it dries it out like nobody’s business.
I’m in transition on personal-care products as I try to cut plastic from my life. I have a bunch of Dr. Bronner’s lip balm (in plastic tubes) that I got for free and am using up and giving away. For lotion, I’ve been using California Baby, because it gets a good rating on EWG and it’s one of few lotions that doesn’t give my hands red bumps. But it’s in plastic and I’d love to find an alternative (in fact, just this morning I ran out and was wondering what to do). I ‘ve used plain olive oil on my hands in the past, and that works great, except for the wait time for it to be absorbed so I don’t leave oily pawprints everywhere. For shampoo, I’ve been using a Weleda product (in plastic), but recently I’ve been trying out the baking soda “no poo” option; we’ll see how that goes. For conditioner I use Aubrey Organics (in plastic) and would love an alternative. Oh, and I do color my hair with conventional products every couple months or so. I feel terribly guilty about it.
I’d love products that were in reusable containers. I have several Burt’s Bees samples and will reuse the containers as I empty them. I doubt I’d ever make my own lip balm, though, so those tube-containers are wasted once I’m done. Plus, some of their creams/lotions come in plastic squeeze containers that aren’t reusable, so products in paper-based squeezies would be great. I pretty much use hand and body lotions/oils/whatever, since my legs are always dry and I’m starting to get middle-aged-woman hands.
Apologies if this becomes a double post; my computer seems to have eaten the first one.
Please enter me in the giveaway. Thanks!
I use Burt’s Bees lipbalm and cuticle cream, Trader Joe’s lotion and shampoo, (I tried two shampoo bars but they don’t work for my oily hair), Tom’s of Maine toothpaste, and an Eco-dent toothbrush where you replace the bristles and keep using the same handle. Your blog and Life Life Plastic have inspired me to use baking soda and cornstarch for deodorant and to switch to bar soap as soon as a I use up my Method shower gel.
As for packaging, I like the idea of compostable containers. The main thing I’d like to see less of is double packaging: products already in tubes and jars that are sold in cardboard boxes or in a plastic bubble mounted to a cardboard backing. Why do companies (even some of the eco-friendly ones) do this? If they’re worried about someone going all Tylenol poisoner, surely they could just add a safety seal on the mouth of the jar.
SO GLAD to see a company finally figured out how to package things right! Hooray!
As far as lotions and things go, I use Alaffia Handcrafted Shea Butter–it comes in a small glass jar (but the metal lid has a styrafoam “seal” on the underside).
I also use Desert Essence JoJoba Oil, which comes in a plastic bottle.
I want to enter the drawing.
I have been clearing out the products that contains chemicals in my bathroom. I look for organic products. I am really curious and interested about the products in safe, biodegradable containers. Do the container begin to break down while the products are still in them though? If it works I think its a Great Idea. I haven’t found an effective natural product for dry skin I experience in winter. I use Badger Balm products and Hydramae lotion. It would be wonderful to get completely away from plastic as containers for products.
I’d love to enter! I’m so thrilled to know about this company. I will keep them in mind for when my Burt’s Bees lip balm (a staple of winter) runs out.