A guide to the packaging we use.
Ahh. Packaging. It's a necessary evil, but one we're constantly trying to mitigate. We hate waste, and we know you do too, so we thought we'd share some of the things we're doing to reduce our impact on the planet.
The Go Native model has always been about ordering what you need. We offer a wide range of volumes so that you can do just that, enabling you to buy in bulk to dispense into smaller, reusable containers if practical. We love seeing the creative ways some of you reuse our packaging: our amber glass bottles make lovely candle holders or vases, for example.
But what have we been doing to eliminate waste at our end of the process? Well, dear reader, we're so glad you asked! But before we get into that, we'll explain the terminology we'll be using, as we appreciate it can get confusing out there.
CompostableWhen things are compostable, it means that in the right conditions, they're able to decompose back into natural elements. The time it takes for something to decompose depends largely on the composting conditions, and the product itself.
Biodegradable"Biodegradable" and "compostable" are often used interchangeably, but there is a distinction to be made. If something is biodegradable, it is capable of decomposing back into natural elements, but it can take a very long time - far longer than a year - and is totally dependent on the temperature and the amount of moisture present. This means in reality, biodegradable items can't be composted at home (unless stated), as they usually require industrial processors to reach the necessary high temperatures.
RecyclableIf something is recyclable, it means it can be broken down into its raw materials and repurposed so it can be used again.
No matter what you do with a product at the end of its life, it doesn't negate the energy needed to manufacture it in the first place. It takes less energy to compost plastics at home than it does to recycle them, but then composting doesn't replace the need for virgin plastic, it simply gets rid of plastic after one use.
One of the drawbacks to recycling is that eventually the plastic material will break down from being reused and recycled so many times, that it will eventually require another disposal method. This is where composting is the the best option: where the same plastic is recycled lots of times, and then eventually composted.
Composting and recycling both have their benefits (and their drawbacks) when compared to each other, so there's a lot to contemplate. We don't consider ourselves experts, but what we do recommend is reuse. Reuse until you no longer can, at which point your options are to recycle or compost.
Amber glass bottles
Where possible, we try to package ingredients in recyclable amber glass bottles, and that's because as a process, making glass is less harmful to the environment than making plastic. Glass also almost always contains some recycled materials, and can be recycled near indefinitely, a real win.
PET bottles and jerry cans
Where it's not practical to use glass, for instance for carrier oils in volumes larger than 250ml, where using fragile glass makes breakages more likely (and in turn necessitates more protective packaging), we sometimes use BPA-free, PET plastic bottles and jerry cans. PET is a type of plastic that has excellent recycling collection rates across New Zealand, and is considered high value, so we very much hope you're able to recycle yours locally. Keep the lids on when you recycle them to prevent them jamming up the sorting systems in recycling plants, as this video from Auckland Council explains:
Essential oils over 500ml are packaged in recyclable 1L aluminium bottles. These also have a high recycling value once thoroughly cleaned. We've heard some local collection centres even pay individuals for them, so there could even be a cash incentive in it for you! In the new year, we will be looking to package 500ml essential oils in aluminium instead of glass.
Pop Starch packaging
Above: Pop Starch packaging and our biodegradable brown ziplock bags.
One of the slight downsides of wanting to use glass packaging whenever possible is the need for protective packaging. Thankfully, we discovered an ingenious NZ product called Pop Starch. Made from expanded starch, similar to the popcorn-making process, Pop Starch is 100% home-compostable and biodegradable. You can simply scatter it on the lawn and pour water over it to see it magically dissolve: we love it! It's also lighter than other packaging options, making parcels lighter and in turn meaning less fuel is used to transport your order.
Cardboard munching machine
One of our other favourite packaging items is our amazing cardboard muncher. It means we're able to recycle the boxes our suppliers send ingredients in, transforming them into cleverly cut protective layers that are malleable and durable. See the video below!
All of our labels are printed to order so we only consume what's necessary, and now the stock they're printed on is better for the environment, too! They're made from waste rock materials generated by the construction industry, and as such are naturally white, requiring no acid or bleach to produce. They're more environmentally friendly than traditional wood fibre paper as less energy is needed to make them, and there's no effluent produced by their production either.
They can be recycled, and they also photo-degrade (if you left them in the sun for months they'd eventually fall apart into eggshell-like pieces). Because they're made of rock, they can't be composted as they don't attract insects to consume them.
Eco bubblewrapWhen we have no choice but to use bubble wrap in an order, we use Eco Green Bubblewrap, which comprises up to 40% recycled materials, 20% of which are from post-consumer sources.
We use a number of zip lock bags for our orders.
Our black zip lock bags are home compostable: remove the label before popping them in your compost bin.
Our brown and clear zip lock bags (with green leaf design) are biodegradable, but not home compostable. That means over time, they will biodegrade, but they require the heat of industrial composting to break down fully. We're working on getting a home compostable alternative.
In some unavoidable cases and to our shame, we use non-recyclable large clear plastic bags with a blue zip lock. We strongly urge you to reuse these if you receive one - they're especially handy for flying - while we continue look for an eco-friendly alternative that meets our needs.