From the very beginning of Semaine in early 2020, our goal was to create as sustainable a product as we could. We launched with our PMS & Period Support in a glass jar because we wanted to make sure we used as little new plastic as possible.
Then, things got complicated. As we moved from just selling online to being on shelf at Target and then Walgreens, we were told that glass would result in a lot of costly issues. As a small start-up business, we had to bite the bullet and temporarily move to plastic so that we could continue to grow.
Since then, we've been constantly on the look out for a more sustainable option. Compostable refill bags weren't viable on shelf and we were learning that many of our customers could no longer recycle glass from home. We looked into recycled plastic but didn't like that plastic could only be recycled the one time. And then... we found our (next) solution: aluminum!
The First Aluminum Supplement Bottle
With the launch of our Urinary Tract Cleanse & Protect you might have noticed our bottles look a little different. That’s because we’ve been on the hunt for more sustainable supplement packaging for the past two years and finally found a better solution to plastic and even glass!
Aluminum vs Plastic
Aluminum is infinitely recyclable and reused indefinitely whereas plastic can only be reused a few times before it ends up in the landfill.
Also, a lot of plastic isn’t being recycled any more (read here for more info)https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/may/04/us-recycling-plastic-waste
No toxic off-gassing. Even with BPA-free plastic, plastic still off-gasses. So once it’s in a landfill, and it very slowly breaks down, it’s much worse for the environment than a material like aluminum which doesn’t off-gas.
Aluminum vs Glass
We love glass bottles but there are still down sides to this sustainable material as a supplement bottles:
It is heavy, so literally it’s carbon footprint is higher to ship from the manufacturer to our warehouse and then out to you (or Walgreens or Thrive Market, etc), so our lightweight aluminum bottles are better for that and
Many of our customers were telling us they didn’t have access to glass recycling. That’s something we learned our first year starting Semaine because our OG customers will remember we started with glass bottles.
We know any new packaging still has a long way to go, but our goal is to eliminate all new plastic from our packaging and continue to find and use the most sustainable packaging options we can find. For instance, with our new Urinary Tract bottles, we’re using a 100% recycled plastic cap, but for our next order of bottles, we’ll be using aluminum caps instead.
Where we still need to use a little bit of plastic
Unlike beverage bottles or even soap or shampoo/conditioner bottles, supplement bottles have to seal securely. The FDA requires that the sealed bottles are stress tested to make sure consumables like supplements stay safe for as long (and longer) than the expiration date states. So sealing the bottles in the manufacturing process is something we can’t budge on. In order to do that with aluminum, the seals (inside and out) have to be made with plastic. We’ll continue to work with our manufacturers to source sustainable sealing options.
Getting Rid of Extra Material
You might notice our Urinary Tract Cleanse and Protect bottle doesn’t come in a box like our Daily Hormone Balance and PMS & Period Support. We’re also moving away from additional packaging so we can conserve materials and reduce waste. Our boxes are recyclable (even with the gold foil on them) but we know the best option is not to create additional material in the first place.
Zero Waste Future
We’re always looking for ways to reduce our footprint more and more. As a small business we have to make these steps slowly so we can make sure we can afford them. But rest assured that we are looking into composable refill packets and any other options that can move us closer and closer to a plastic-free and then zero waste future. We welcome all constructive feedback and any options that you are interested in seeing so please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org — we’d love to chat all things sustainable!