In recent years, it has become increasingly important to consider the ecological impact of business. The EPA estimates that the United States adds 139 million tons of garbage to landfills every day. That’s 2.34 lbs per person and doesn’t even include the items that are recycled, composted, or burned for energy.
I don’t know about you, but I find that to be a pretty sobering figure. As a result, when designing Berceuse’s packaging, we put a lot of effort into making it as ecologically responsible as possible. Ideally, that would have involved biodegradable materials, but it’s virtually impossible for a small company like Berceuse to create custom biodegradable packaging. Because of this, we opted to design everything to be recyclable or reusable instead. Here’s a guide to help you make the most of your perfume’s packaging once it has arrived.
The Grace Note Packaging
In case you haven’t seen one yet, our samples, known as “Grace Notes,” arrive in their own special little boxes. These are made of cardboard, which is biodegradable, as is the paperboard for the Grace Note itself. The tissue paper is extra special: not only is it made of sustainably sourced, acid-free paper, but the ink is made from soy products rather than petroleum. The result is that the tissue paper is 100% biodegradable. So is the cotton paper used for your receipt, but we’re still working on getting fully biodegradable inks for our printer.
The only things in a Grace Note package that won’t completely break down are the sticker used to seal the tissue paper and the bee stickers that we include in every box. Everyone loves stickers, so just pop them on something cool and, voilà, you’ve kept them out of the trash.
The Bottle Packaging
Remember when you were a kid and your teacher taught you the three Rs: reduce, reuse, and recycle? Most of the packaging for a bottle of Berceuse perfume is not biodegradable or made from post-consumer materials. But it is either directly reusable or recyclable, and that’s pretty cool.
The first thing that you'll see when you receive a box from us is the outer shipping wrapper. It’s standard corrugated cardboard, which, as I said, is biodegradable. Exposed to “typical garden conditions,” it should break down in about three months, and makes for excellent compost if shredded. Just make sure to discard the tear-away release strip; the plastic in it is necessary to make sure that it tears properly, and we were unable to find a way to make it break down. But it’s a very small piece.
The next thing is an envelope with a receipt. We like to slip a few more stickers into these, so be sure not to throw them out! But the envelope and the cotton paper receipt are both biodegradable, so you should have no trouble composting the former and simply discarding the latter. Once we’re able to source biodegradable inks, you’ll be able to compost the receipt, too.
Now comes the shipping box, which is made from polystyrene foam and rigid paperboard. It would be difficult to recycle this, and, really, why waste such a pretty box? Instead, the insert that holds the bottle in place can be removed after the fact. The box is quite durable and can be used to hold jewelry, postcards/greeting cards, or any other small objects. I use one to organize my perfume samples.
The insert is made of polystyrene, which is a “thermoplastic,” meaning that it can be melted down and made into more polystyrene. Unfortunately, most countries do not offer curbside collection of polystyrene due to lack of investment in such programs. We're actively searching for a replacement material and, for now, you can keep it to display your perfume box. If you'd rather not do so, you can throw it away, but we ask that you attempt to recycle it, if possible.
There’s also a little thank-you note on the underside of the lid; that’s made of heavy-weight, acid-free cotton paper, and you can compost it or just discard it.
Last, but certainly not least, is the perfume box. All full-sized bottles of Berceuse perfume come with a plastic sheath around the box to protect them in transit and on shelves. These sheaths are made of polyethylene, the same plastic used to make water and soda bottles, and should be easy to recycle just like you would either of those.
The box itself is made of coated paper, paperboard, and glue, and, while theoretically recyclable, is something that you may want to consider keeping. A sturdy box will protect your perfume from physical damage and light, and our boxes are held shut with double magnets (as opposed to the usual single) to make sure that they’re nice and secure. You can even keep the plastic sheath for added protection.
You may ask, “Well this is all well and good, but what about Berceuse itself? Do you make an effort to be environmentally responsible in-house?” Great question, and the answer is absolutely yes. Our lights are low-energy LEDs, our insulation is high-efficiency spray-foam, and we reuse or recycle every scrap of cardboard possible. If we receive packing peanuts or paper, we reuse them, and, if we have to buy them, we stick with the biodegradable varieties. We’re also a member of the Eco-Packaging Alliance; the more tissue paper we use, the more trees that are planted in high-flood-risk or heavily deforested areas.
So that’s it, from top to bottom. We’ve worked hard to make our packaging as reusable as we can, and I hope you’ll make use of it for years to come. And, if you have any suggestions for other uses for those shipping boxes, please drop us a line. There are lots of prototype boxes here and I’m running out of uses for them. Seriously. Please.
is the founder of Berceuse Parfum and a lifelong lover of all things scented.