Our world is full of plastic - National Geographic estimates there are more than 5 trillion - TRILLION - pieces of plastic floating in our ocean, many of which are bottles, bags and styrofoam containers. And if you've ever cleaned out your makeup drawer or medicine cabinet you know that you've thrown away a massive amount of lip glosses, mascaras, and old eye creams which were made of plastic. We are not a plastic-free line (yet!) but with every product launch in the last few years we've intentionally gone with plastic-free options and glass is one of the winners. Here's why:
Most glass is 100% recyclable and can be recycled over and over while plastic can only be recycled 2-3 times. Colored glass can be recycled basically if you can see through it - so clear, blue, green and amber bottles are good to go. Miron and/or violet glass is also recyclable. If glass has paint or flourine compounds dispersed IN the glass, like an opal glass, then it is not recyclable.
When I started Erin's Faces I really liked the look of Boston Round bottles - they've been used in apothecaries for forever and I liked that simple, old-world feel. I also like that what you see is what you get - it's not a huge bottle that only actually houses a tiny bit of product (we've all bought those). I chose blue or amber bottles for items that needed UV protection and clear for those that didn't. All are easily recyclable (see our video below for an in-depth how-to) and you can also repurpose them as bud vases which they're excellent for!
Initially I had wanted to use aluminum tubes for our Radiant Firming Concealer but the MOQ (minimum order quantities) were 25,000 pieces and y'all, we're just not that big. I felt like we would have to do a plastic tube and hadn't even thought about an alternative until a visiting packaging rep was putting away his kit of samples and I saw a glass perfume vial with a roller ball on the top. "Would this work with a doe foot?" I asked him (doe foots are the spongy wand things inside of gloss/concealer tubes). "We haven't done that before but we could try!" he said. I was in! The glass was beautiful - made in Italy - and had a "heavy bottom" so if it got dropped gravity would pull that bottom down so it was what would hit the floor and breakage would be minimal. We used them and they've been a hit!
Next came our mascara - I knew I wanted to use the glass tube again but black gucky stuff is not cute and so I knew we needed to color the tube somehow. But if we incorporated pigments into the glass itself it wouldn't be recyclable. I also loved the "soft touch" feel that some products have but that's a plastic coating which was a no. What to do?! Then I discovered powder coating - which hit both challenges - it gave opacity to the tube and felt fancy texture-wise. Our manufacturer explained to me that powder coat disintegrates at 700 degrees Fahrenheit and glass is recycled at 1200+ degrees Fahrenheit - so it would work! As far as I know we're the only folks who have come out with mascara (and concealer!) in glass tubes so we're happy to be making it available to our clients 😊.
So how do you recycle them? The short answer is you clean them out and recycle (or repurpose!) the bottles. Generally tops/pumps/wands are not recyclable and need to be repurposed or disposed of. You can send your cleaned mascara wands to Wands for Wildlife who accepts them at specified times throughout the year or turn them into a hairbrush for your niece's Barbie doll (totally serious).
We are working to add more glass items to the line and flip things one-by-one as we can from plastic to sustainable packaging. I would love to be able to do it all at once but as a small independently-owned brand we need to do one product at a time. Thanks for sticking with us on our journey!