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Our values - packaging

Written by Chelsea on December 10th, 2018.      5 comments

chelsea in front of house with box

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.


When 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" 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.


If something is recyclable, it means it can be broken down into its raw materials and repurposed so it can be used again. 

What's best?

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
Our amber 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:

Auckland Council's guide to recycling. Your region may have different rules.

Aluminium bottles

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

IMG 9277
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!

Tree-free labels

labels made of rock go native
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 bubblewrap

When 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.

Zip-lock bags

zip lock bag

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.

Topics: packaging, recycling


Letitia says ...
I think it's great that you're making such an effort towards using no or low waste packaging! If only more companies were so conscious of their "eco footprint". I do have one question about the new labels though - how are they recycled?? Do they need to be peeled off and sent somewhere? Or are they part of the glass recycling process and get incorporated into recycled glassware?
Josephine Kemp says ...
Great products Ill be back
Carolanne says ...
I was very impressed with the packaging and especially the reused shredded box wrap that my oils were wrapped in. It is great to see your great values and high standards throughout all your products. Thanks for a great trust worthy service.
Violet says ...
How hard is it to accept and reuse used jars? I used to be able to do this with a local skincare maker but the y don't seem to do it any more. It would be great to be able to refill.
Karen says ...
The recycled cardboard muncher is the best thing I have seen in a long time. I really love receiving my products wrapped in that. I am recommending it to our own packaging departing. Thank you for introducing it