recycled whole bottles and jars

I’m currently working on the conceptual side of the package design for our products, meaning I’m researching into what all of our options are. I’ve always thought that the hardest part about design is deciding what not to do; there are always, always so many options, even when you get down to the tiniest (but not unimportant) details.

Initially Heather and I talked about the idea of choosing by hand whole recycled glass bottles and jars, and using those to house our skincare products. It would mean that every bottle or jar is unique (but with the same label, of differing size). I really love the idea of using recycled containers before we use the energy and cost of re-processing them into something new again. The term for this concept is called upcycling, a term coined by William McDonaugh and Michael Braugart in their book on ecologically intelligent design, Cradle to Cradle. Brilliant book, by the way. I would highly recommend it.

But there is a mountain of obstacles to this upcycling plan. Like the fact that we legally can’t, nor would we have the desire to, dig through people’s glass recycle bins on curbsides and in parking lots. And frankly, trying to even locate a glass recycling plant to contact about this idea is proving more than a challenge than I ever thought! I haven’t had the chance to contact anyone from a plant who would be able to tell me if they would even allow us to rifle through their glass containers and hand-pick our favorites (before they’re crushed and melted). And I’m not too keen on the idea of just purchasing a bulk amount of recycled glass containers, even if they are all the same color of our choice (which was an option I found on one plant’s website). I think due to the nature of our product, and the level of aesthetics we’re shooting for, we would end up paying for a bulk amount and be able to use only a small percentage of it. That’s not a good option.

So at this point it looks like the traditional method of using recycled glass after it’s been crushed and melted down is the best option. There are some definite benefits to this method, of course. It would mean we could design the shape of the bottles and jars themselves (which equally excites and terrifies me!), and then everything would match perfectly and be exactly what we want them to look like. This would cost more, of course, and we’re striving to keep the costs down as much as possible, and in turn keep the retail prices down, so that’s why I’m going to continue exploring all of our options until we know for sure which way to go.

I still love the idea of having mismatched bottles with the same labels, and I’m hopelessly attached to the idea of re-using something before it gets sucked into the cycle of reprocessing (and even then, much of recycled glass is only ever crushed and then dumped into landfills anyway!)

So we’ll see. We’ve still a long road before us, but we’ll keep you updated on the process. I suppose it’s never easy to do something brand new, but that’s all part of the fun, right?

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