At Pacific Northwest Essences, we create healing essences from the natural energy of flowers, mosses, lichens, and stones, which we infuse outdoors in our beautiful ponderosa pine forest. In return for these healing gifts, we are always working to protect and preserve the Earth in any way we can.
Our passion for sustainability informs everything we do, from our ingredient selection and essence-making process to our packaging and shipping materials. We strive to have a positive impact on the environment with each decision we make, including seeking out local, eco-friendly suppliers, minimizing waste, giving back to environmental advocacy organizations, and educating others through outreach and by example. While many companies these days are committed to producing eco-conscious products, those products are often packaged and shipped in ways that are wasteful and unsustainable. Though it can be surprisingly difficult to find environmentally-friendly options for paper products and shipping materials, we are dedicated to finding the most earth-friendly products available for all our packaging and shipping needs, and are constantly on the hunt for better and more sustainable options.
Our commitment to the earth starts, of course, with the products themselves. Almost all the flowers we use for our essences are wildflowers gathered right here in our local fields, forests, and meadows, and a few are organically grown on our own mini-farm, or by neighboring organic gardeners we’ve befriended. For plants that are plentiful, we will carefully harvest a small number of blooms, always leaving plenty behind so that the plants can continue to thrive. With rare plants, we will avoid picking the flowers altogether; instead, we place a bowl of water directly beneath the blooms and allow it to infuse for a longer period of time.
Our gem essences are made from raw gemstones that are usually not even tumbled, and never from man-made or chemically treated stones. We take the time to seek out high-grade gems from responsible sources, and because we select stones with a strong energy, only a small specimen is usually needed to create a powerful essence.
One of the wonderful things about essence therapy is that, unlike many other medicines, essences offer us all the benefits of nature’s healing energy with barely any impact on nature itself. Just one small handful of flowers is all that’s needed to make a “mother essence,” which can then be used to make hundreds of bottles of essences. For gem essences, the same stone may be used over and over to make new batches of mother essence. Apart from the plants and gems, our essences are made from nothing more than water and brandy (which anchors the essence’s energy and serves as a preservative), and because we infuse them right here under the sun in a quartz crystal vessel, the environmental footprint of producing these herbal medicines is extraordinarily small.
Some other energy medicines create a great deal of waste, such as pellets packaged in disposable plastic vials, or call for energy-guzzling gadgets like those often used for massage and other therapies. And all too often, the ingredients in herbal products are shipped from an overseas farmer to an international herb dealer, then to a regional herb distributor, then to an ingredient manufacturer in the US or Europe for processing and packaging, before being sent through yet another distributor to their final destination. Needless to say, this process requires a huge expenditure of energy and carbon emissions, and has an enormous impact on the environment—an impact that we avoid completely when we harvest the ingredients, create the essences, and package the finished product all right here in our own studio. The resulting essences are low-impact and, because they are made from freshly harvested plants in full bloom, they truly capture the most vibrant energy that nature has to offer.
All our essences and aura mists are packaged in lightproof glass bottles with environmentally friendly paper labels. The bottles are packaged in fluted cardboard sleeves for shipping rather than individual product boxes to further reduce waste, and our gift packaging is 100% natural and biodegradable, too.
We only shrink-band products when absolutely necessary for retail partners that require shrink bands for tamper-free evidence, and we are currently actively searching for a natural biodegradable option for the minimal number of shrink bands we do use.
Packaging and Shipping Supplies
To ship our products to customers we use custom-made boxes from 100% recycled material. The boxes are tailor-made to just the right size to fit our products, so there’s no added waste and only a minimal amount of fill is needed to protect the contents. All our shipping boxes are curbside recyclable and biodegradable, and are made in the USA.
Of course, our products must be carefully wrapped before being tucked away into one of our earth-friendly boxes. Our bottles are wrapped in tissue paper made from 100% recycled material. In place of bubble wrap, we use a corrugated wrap that is 100% recycled and 100% recyclable. We also use recycled brown paper and biodegradable starch peanuts as box fill in place of synthetic, nonbiodegradable fill materials. Unlike the traditional styrofoam packing peanuts, our starch peanuts are made from natural materials like wheat and corn starch, and we source them from a local company to minimize our carbon footprint. The starch peanuts dissolve in water, leaving behind no toxic waste, and are compostable.
In place of standard plastic packing tape, we use an eco-friendly carton sealing alternative. Kraft paper tape is comprised of a FSC-certified paper backing interwoven with fiberglass threads, layered with exclusive biodegradable laminate and finished with a water-activated, high-performing potato starch adhesive.
As of December 2020, we are phasing out a few remaining plastic single-use shipping supplies, such as shrink bags. We are also converting to a recycled-material version of the see-through pouches required by shipping carriers and customs officials outside each mailing carton.
Being an online shop, rather than brick and mortar, we have been able to embrace an electronic filing and communication system. Virtually everything is done electronically, with minimal use of paper for jotting down notes here and there.
The paper products we do use are carefully chosen to reduce the impact they have on the environment. We always use recycled paper for our minimal in-studio printing needs. We order our business cards and some postcards from a company that sources its paper sustainably, uses plastic-free shipping packaging, and recently announced that they are partnering with an external sustainability organization to investigate how to better prioritize sustainability through short-, mid-, and long-term initiatives. The remainder of our postcards and note cards come from an American paper company that has long been a pioneer in eco-friendly recycled paper manufacturing: They have been powered by fully renewable on-site hydroelectric generators since the 1920s, saving over one million barrels of fossil fuels to date, and even produce surplus energy for the local utility company. As part of our ongoing commitment to finding the most sustainable options available, we are also currently investigating a new brand of paper that uses 100% post-consumer fibers.
In the Production Studio
All of our production processes and materials are chosen with an eye to minimizing our impact on the environment. We are obsessive about correctly sorting all waste to compost everything that is compostable and recycle everything that is recyclable in Washington State, and each of our employees is carefully trained on which items go where, which is essential as city recycling rules may vary widely.
Our studio containers are all glass or stainless steel, and our essences are all infused in a quartz crystal shaped like a bowl or in a wide glass bowl or jar. We do not purchase any plastic bottles, jugs, or other containers for ingredient storage needs, and we sterilize our containers by hand, so no electricity is employed. We primarily use a fully biodegradable paper tape for in-studio needs, minimizing the use of plastic tape as much as possible, and we do not use disposable twist ties. We only use natural, biodegradable cleaning supplies, rechargeable batteries, and eco-friendly pencils, and strive to minimize the use of plastic pens and markers by using pencils wherever possible. We use only eco-friendly Post-it Notes, and we cut them into smaller sizes with scissors as needed in order to use as few as possible. And of course, we are always seeking out greener alternatives as they become available and are constantly reevaluating to further diminish our environmental footprint.
Because we care deeply about sharing our passion for the environment, it is important to us to seek out vendors who share our commitment to sustainability, and to work toward educating others whenever we can. If we find that a vendor is routinely sending us printed invoices or other documentation, we immediately request that they switch to email communication only. If we notice a supplier using vinyl or plastic packaging to ship supplies to us, we work with them to have our shipments packaged in more eco-friendly shipping materials, or will change vendors if they are not able to accommodate our requests.
Just as we grow or harvest most of our ingredients locally, we also order our shipping, packaging, and office supplies locally whenever possible, and always order nonperishable supplies in bulk to reduce our carbon footprint by receiving fewer shipments. Recent research1 has shown that ordering items in bulk for delivery from local suppliers is the best way to reduce emissions, versus shopping at an online-only retailer or in person. For example, we work with a local shipping company here in Spokane, WA, that drops off our bulk orders of packing peanuts and shipping boxes all in one trip. And of course, we reuse shipping and packaging supplies whenever possible to minimize the number of new materials we need to order.
Finally, in an effort to raise awareness about environmental issues and to support those who are working to effect positive and lasting change, we’ve set up an ongoing donation program that supports a few of our favorite, carefully vetted nonprofit environmental organizations, with a focus on causes based here in the Pacific Northwest. To read more about our philanthropic contributions and find out how you can help, visit Our Part for the Pacific Northwest.
- Temming, M. “Ordering from a local store can curb online shopping’s CO2 emissions.” ScienceNews, February 26, 2020.