"Come dream with me. I want a place where containers can be brought in and refilled. I want a place with bulk containers where laundry detergent and bath salts can be scooped into a muslin sack that can be washed and reused, brought back, and filled again. Just like our homestead dreams, I know this one isn't far from reality."
The last several months of me have been filled with the type of dreaming I was doing when I started reading stories of the city-to-farm movement 10 years ago. I remember those days, picturing myself living in a big, round yurt, surrounded by land and books, ingesting the DIY projects in the pages from baking bread to raising bees. And here we are. No yurt, but a beautiful 120-year-old farmhouse. I love that our house has stood that long. The history greets me everyday, in so many ways. Sometimes when I'm cold in the winter I think about how much of a struggle it was to heat this home in 1900. I think about the times without electricity and how the general tasks of everyday living we try to squeeze in around working were the only thing the first family in this dwelling had any time for. They weren't consumed with social media, annoying politics, or mass-produced over-consumption. They simply lived, made what they needed, scavenged the earth for materials, bartered and borrowed within their surrounding community, and made things last as long as possible. Life was fresh, local, and not taken for granted.
That life, this house and it's history speaks to me so deeply, yet it seems where the difficulty at that time was getting through each day with all that had to be done for simply surviving on a farm, my greatest difficulty is the tugging at my heart about the waste that happens all around us, and within our home, and business, and it becomes so incredibly overwhelming I wonder if it's even worth it. Should I just stop caring? Not possible. Can I make an impact? I have to try.
It is a fine line we walk in the natural care industry to create a safe, sanitary, effective product. On one side, disposable packaging ensures the integrity of the final product and is significantly less expensive than eco-friendly counterparts, making natural care products more accessible to more people, not just those who can afford "the luxury". I do not think natural products should be considered luxury products, they should be able to be used by everyone, everyday. These natural ingredients and products, when sustainably sourced and purchased from small companies, are already more expensive, why add to that with additional packaging costs? On the other side of that line lies the insane amount of waste that occurs when a consumable product is used up and all that's left is the bottle, and the pump, or the jar and the cap. These are, as stated before, things we use every single day, they go away, they are consumed, they are washed away, they are gone.
Zero waste packaging is becoming a growing trend in this industry, but not all products can exist without a container. But does that container have to be used just once? Come dream with me. I want a place where containers can be brought in and refilled. I want a place with bulk containers where laundry detergent and bath salts can be scooped into a muslin sack that can be washed and reused, brought back, and filled again. I want glass containers that are purchased once, returned to my place, cleaned and sanitized, and used again for the exact same purpose it was always intended. Need a wrapping? How about cellophane? It's compost able and made from plant materials. Don't want to put a glass container in the shower or bath in case it breaks? How about hemp bio-plastic bottles? I have read they decompose in just 53 days in a compost heap. What about those customers that can't come to my place? How about biodegradable refill pouches sold in bulk so they have more product, saving the customer money, using less packaging material, and allowing each purchase to last longer? You have no idea the amount of hours I have put into researching these options, contacting companies, weighing out costs, and looking at huge boxes of plastic bottles in my storage room, just waiting to get through them so I can move into an emotional place where I can feel good about not only the beautiful natural ingredients that go into our products, our commitment to purchasing from family-owned, small companies who are ethical in sourcing from the earth, and our desire to source as much of what we use within 3 states of where we live, but also about this next phase of figuring out how to eliminate the line, and create safe, effective products with a commitment to reducing waste. Just like our homestead dreams, I know this one isn't far from reality.
Need a great reuse idea? Check out my post on making your own Springtime Inhaler with an empty essential oil bottle!