“Sustainability” is one of those words, used in so many different ways that its definition may seem obscure. It is, in fact, multi-faceted: touching upon our environment, people whom my practice directly or indirectly impacts, and longevity of my business. This is known as a Triple Bottom Line (People, Planet, Profit) and influences every decision I make from the source of ingredients in my products and their packaging, to when and where I perform my business. These values are interwoven within every fiber of my practice, because I am thirsty for meaningful work and believe that being mindful in my practice can help draw me to like-minded people.
Here are some ways that I work towards my goals:
- Local: I harvest or purchase many of the herbs I use in my products locally, growing my own whenever possible. This keeps the product line seasonal, supporting a role in permaculture and small business development for the community.
- Ecosystem: I use biodegradable ink and labels, and the paper for the soap label wrapper is embedded with wildflower seeds. The handmade lotka paper is made in the highlands of Nepal by rural craftspeople in an environmentally friendly process and I purchase it from Flower Seed Paper. The whole process is not only earth friendly but also reaches to the broader community with a touch of permaculture.
- Biodegradable/Recycleable/Reusable: The deodorant and salves come in biodegradable paperboard tubes with push-up bottoms so you can apply the product directly and compost the empty container with your kitchen scraps or toss in the recycle bin. A few of the balms will also be in the paperboard containers, but many are also in the reusable tins, handy for storing buttons, seeds and other things once you’ve finished the product. Plastics are minimal in my product line.
- Transparency: I believe what you put onto your body is as important as what you put into it. I research the source of my ingredients to also ensure that they do not contribute to a cycle detrimental to the environment. I seek out distributors who share my values and I maintain detailed batch records with Material Safety Data Sheets, include full ingredient listing on the product labels with their Latin/International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) names so that the consumer can make the most informed purchasing decision. I even share some of my recipes and materials processing in my blog posts, because I believe much of the product’s benefit comes from their ingredients. With a bit of formal training and insurance, I follow FDA guidelines and good manufacturing practices with the support of the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild. I use natural plant or mineral-based ingredients that have no detergents, animal products or fragrance oils and I do not test on animals. Each formulation has the percentage of Organic Ingredients listed.
- Public Sales: It is important for me to share my product because it fills a need in the community and to support my own business model so that I can continue to press forward. I sell wholesale to local businesses, direct to consumers at local farmers’ markets, craft shows and outdoor recreation events, in addition to my online Etsy shop. I enjoy meeting new people and making collaborations. In addition to cultivating wholesale opportunities between my own outdoor excursions, I’d like to grow the business into a shared retail location, stabilizing sales and providing meaningful work to one or two staff in the near future.
- Donations: To support environmental awareness, I seek out and regularly contribute to various volunteer or non-profit organizations that support animal rights and outdoor advocacy with meaningful donations. I often promote their cause on my facebook page and am extremely grateful to be able to do this!
Eryn Hughes, Owner of Apothecary Muse