The Whale appeared one morning on South Beach, near where Organic Essence is located. We saw it while driving by and had to stop. She was a thirty foot long adolescent sperm whale who should have been getting started in life. But there she was stone cold, unmoving. The sadness we felt is hard to describe. A wildlife veterinarian pronounced the cause of death was starvation due to a stomach filled with plastic. Plastic does this? We were proud to found one of the first USDA Organic body care companies but our product packages were a threat to life. Organic is about sustainability and helping people avoid synthetic chemicals. Yet everything we made was packaged in plastic. Suddenly, we realized that we were part of a serious environmental problem because plastic is not sustainable.

Down the Rabbit Hole After the whale woke us up we learned that plastic is a mildly toxic synthetic chemical. It’s easy to assume that plastic is inert like glass but now we know that plastic leaches pthalates and other chemicals into water and oils that make up most products. Plastic has a half life measured in hundreds or even thousands of years. When plastic eventually breaks down into sand-like particles, it still leaches its chemical load.

What was most troubling to us was that Organic Essence was founded to make genuinely chemical-free products, yet our packaging was contaminating our product with synthetic hormone and cancer causing chemicals. Chemical contamination is precisely the opposite of what organic stands for. We had to find a non-toxic, sustainable packaging alternative to plastic. The packaging industry is dominated by plastic. Manufacturers know that their customers want price and sustainability but sustainability costs more. Marketing costs less than genuine sustainable packaging. Therefore, the modern marketing playbook accents the positive as much as possible. Directing attention to small improvements and promoting them as major breakthroughs is common. Deception ranges from minor to outright lying. Wonderful slogans prevail. The problem is that few, genuine solutions exist.

Organic Essence is focused on tangible products that deliver, not illusion. We needed physically sustainable packaging, so we had to make it ourselves. Our first development was the paper jar in 2008 and then the paper tube packages in 2009. Since then, we have developed several more sustainable packaging options and are making them available to other companies. Supporting all life supports human life. This is the meaning of sustainability. Substances that come from life and feed life are sustainable. Given enough time, chemicals that harm life are not sustainable. Paper jumped to the top of our package ingredient list because it comes from life. When you discard paper it returns to life itself, feeding small and invisible life. Paper is inherently carbon neutral because it gets its carbon by absorbing it from the air. Paper has the highest post consumer recycling rates of all. And not least, our paper packaging doesn’t contaminate our certified organic body care products.]Best of all, paper doesn’t kill whales.