Aspire to Zero Waste
We Aspire to Zero Waste
Our home shop has been zero waste for many years, long before we started Aspire. We ascribe to the same principles of zero waste with Aspire. It’s not exactly zero, because there are a few things that land in our house that can’t be disposed of sustainably, but it’s never more than about 2% of our total waste. We avoid waste mainly by buying in bulk, and we only buy packaged groceries in glass, metal, aluminum or cardboard. We still have a few things that we get in plastic, and we make sure they are recyclable.
All our major supplies come in 50 LB paper bags, or in 5-gallon metal or plastic pails. The bags are recycled and the pails are re-used or recycled.
When we supply bulk stores, we either refill their storage containers, or we trade their empties for filled containers. Either way, the containers, such as glass or plastic gallon jugs, or metal pails, are constantly in recirculation or re-use, for 100% two-way zero waste.
All Aspire Products Are in Reusable and Recyclable Containers
We encourage our customers to keep their container and let us refill it when it’s empty. We also offer several options for larger containers that can be used to refill the smaller, working container. For example, our deodorant is in a 4-oz spray bottle, which is the working container that you spray with, but we offer a 16 oz bottle that can be used to refill the spray bottle. Then, when the 16 oz bottle is empty, you can have that refilled with more Aspire deodorant. The larger container saves trips to our shop, or trips to the post office. We want to remind consumers that when you buy groceries in containers, you pay at least as much or more for the container as you do for the actual product. What a waste of money!
With Aspire, All Our Personal and Home Care Products Are Zero Waste
At home, we’ve been refilling our own containers for many years, so we have no waste, not even recyclables.
We use Aspire Colorado Gold All-purpose soap for all our cleaning, including laundry, so we have no bottles from dish soap, laundry soap, hand soap, floor cleaner, etc. It's so much simpler with just one all-purpose soap!
With Aspire toothpowder, we have no toothpaste tubes waste.
With Aspire deodorant, we have no deodorant container waste.
With Aspire lotion bars, we have no lotion container waste.
With Aspire lip moisturizer, we have cardboard and tins, great alternatives to plastic tube waste.
With Aspire primal soap, there is no plastic wrap waste.
With Aspire bug spray, there is no plastic bottle waste.
When you buy glass refill containers from Aspire, it’s likely they have already been used at least once. Glass is extremely easy to clean, sanitize and re-use indefinitely. In many other countries, such as in Mexico and European countries, it is common practice to collect and re-use glass bottles. Think Coca Cola and beer. Here in the U.S., we used to do that, but somehow got away from it. At Aspire, we think everyone should be doing this, so in our business we always clean and re-use glass containers. We hope other businesses will do the same. It would save a lot of resources and a lot of energy!
We buy our juice from Colorado Cherry, a local juice company, in half-gallon or gallon glass jugs. These are exactly the same jugs that we buy new on-line, so we always clean and re-use the juice jugs for Aspire.
We buy our mayonnaise and yogurt in glass mason jars. These jars have universal threaded tops that fit canning lids, so we always clean and re-use them for canning and storing food. We also re-use them to supply toothpowder refills, so if you order an 8-oz, 16-oz or 32-oz toothpowder refill jar, it has probably already been used at least once or twice.
We get our essential oils in 16 oz glass bottles. We re-use these to supply liquid 16-oz refills for deodorant and bug spray. We also re-use suitable glass jars from groceries, such as sauces and ketchup, if they have a good panel for our labels. So, if you receive an Aspire product in a glass bottle that doesn’t match the picture on the website, that’s why!
Reduce Plastic Waste
Why is Plastic a Problem?
For one thing, not all plastic is bad. It's all in how we use it. Plastic is very useful in many applications because it's light weight and easy to mold into precise shapes for parts, etc.
The problem with plastic is with "single use" plastic. Single use plastic refers to disposable plastic containers, bags and other products that are meant to be used just once, then disposed of when the product is used up.
Plastic is long-lasting, which is why it's good for things that are meant to be used over and over for many years. After all, if it doesn't fail, then there's no need to keep buying replacements, which is a good thing. This durability of plastic is the very reason that it's not suitable for single use. If the plastic bottle, for example, doesn't break down in the landfill, it just sits there for decades, building up and taking up space forever. Does this feel like a sustainable balance with our planet? We don't think so.
Humans on this planet have used so much plastic in just the past two generations that plastic is now ubiquitous in the environment. It's everywhere. There is no corner in the world today that is free of plastic debris. The problem with plastic is that, even though it doesn't break down completely, it gets brittle over time and fragments into tiny particulates, known as microplastics. These microplastics are everywhere. The plastics are polluting our waters and killing marine fisheries, when newly hatched fish fry mistake the tiny particles for food, and end up clogging their tiny digestive systems and dying. Scientists have determined that there are now more microplastics in the oceans than there are fish. That's when you know it's bad.
In the U.S., we consume about 38 million tons/year of plastic annually, and only about 25% of plastic is currently recycled. We must stop this over consumption that is killing our planet and our wildlife. We can stop this insanity. If everybody in the U.S. stopped using single-use plastic, we would prevent around 10 - 20 billion containers from entering our landfills annually, including toothpaste tubes, deodorant containers, lotion bottles, dish and household soap bottles. And that's just the personal care products we use. Think about all the food we buy. If we bought all that in bulk, we could save even more. We would also eliminate a lot of petrochemicals and pollution associated with manufacturing these containers, which is a huge part of the carbon footprint of plastic. The reduction in our carbon footprint would be enormous. And, the good news is, it's easy to do, if we try.
Always Buy Bulk
If you buy in bulk, you keep refilling the same container, instead of throwing it away. Not only does buying in bulk save plastic, it also saves money. Every time we buy a product in a single-use plastic container, it adds about $1 to the cost of the product, just for the container. Wow. That means that if you go to the store and buy, say 20 items in bottles, you probably just spent at least $20 just on the packaging. That can add up to hundreds of dollars a month! So, why would we spend a bunch of extra money for something that we will use just once and then dispose of? Does that make sense? What a waste! And, it's not just the waste of money, it takes materials, energy and resources to make these containers that we don't even need. Single-use plastic is a horrifying 1.75% of our carbon footprint in the U.S., just in the manufacturing. Big factories are churning out millions of containers every second, polluting and consuming and increasing the human impact on our environment. All so we can use a bottle once and throw it away. Really?
If You Have Plastic to Dispose of, at Least Recycle It
All plastic is infinitely recyclable, as long as it is cleaned properly and placed in a recycling bin. We all need to be responsible for the products we buy, and what happens to the containers after we buy the products.
Sadly, most personal care products are in packages that are intended for single use. If you go to a grocery store and look around, you will see nothing but single-use packaging, with few exceptions. It seems that society has forced us to use single-use packaging with everything we buy, and we have to really seek out the ways to avoid single-use packaging.
How Aspire Can Help
Aspire products are all available in bulk. You can fill your own container with bulk personal care products, or purchase a packaged product from Aspire the first time, and then refill it with more bulk product when you run out.
You can buy Aspire products directly from our on-line store, or check out our store directory to find a store near you that carries Aspire products. Our products can be found in several stores in the front range. In addition to Aspire products, you will also find all kinds of other products available in bulk in these same stores, that will help you stop using single-use plastics.
Aspire is hosting recycling boxes for plastic products that are difficult to recycle. At our Golden location, we have boxes for the following:
Recycling for Oral Hygiene, including toothpaste tubes and toothbrushes. Get rid of your toothpaste tube for the last time, and start using refillable Aspire Tooth Powder!
Recycling for Disposable Razors, Blades and Plastic Packaging.
Recycling for Pens and Markers.
None of these products can be recycled in a curb-side single-stream recycling bin. If you throw these kinds of items into the bin, it's just wishful thinking. They will be culled out at the recycling facility and end up the the landfill. So, it's easier to just throw it in the trash in the first place, unless you bring it to our boxes that are specifically for these items. Be responsible about plastic use, and make sure the plastic you use is recycled properly. At least by keeping it in the "circular economy" it will be re-used and won't pollute the environment.
What is a "Circular Economy"?
A Circular Economy is an economy where everything we consume is recycled, so that, instead of constantly extracting more materials from the earth, petroleum, minerals, etc., we keep the materials within our economy and keep reusing them. The circular economy is crucial in getting our consumption in balance with what our planet can provide. Recycling really does save energy and resources, so as a last resort it helps a lot. That said, the best thing we can all do is stop using single use plastic entirely.
We Aspire to Sustainable Shipping
To us, that means using only recyclable, biodegradable materials when we ship our products. We also re-use boxes and other materials whenever possible, and we hope that you do the same, and either re-use or recycle the packaging that you receive Aspire products in.
Boxes – When we order supplies, they typically come in a box, and we always keep the boxes for future use in shipping our products back out to our customers. The only time we use new boxes is if we don’t have a right-sized box to ship an order. In theory, a good box can last a long time, so we may as well re-use it to extinction, then recycle it.
Packing – We use only newspaper and brown paper for packing.
Plastic – There are only two times you will see plastic in our shipments.
If you order Aspire deodorant or Aspire bug spray, it will be sealed in a plastic bag. This is because these products are based in ethanol, which is an alcohol that is flammable, just like Meyer's Rum. The United States Department of Transportation requires that bottles of flammable materials like this be contained within a sealed plastic bag for shipping, with enough absorbent within the bag to absorb the alcohol, should the bottle leak. This is a precaution to prevent the material from evaporating into the air in an enclosed vehicle, possibly leading to a fire if there were to be a spark or flame. That makes sense to us! For absorbent, we use paper. We use either zip lock bags or plain plastic bags that can be re-used or recycled. Most of the plastic bags we use are bags that we have received goods in, such as containers, lids, essential oils, and even coffee and other goods that that we order on-line.
We ship bulk toothpowder in sealed plastic bags if the product is ordered without a container. This way, you can choose to put it in your own container. Toothpowder is the only product we ship without a container, since it’s a powder so it’s easy to do. The bag can be recycled with plastic film at a participating grocery store, such as King Soopers or Whole Foods.
Bubble Wrap – We can’t stand to receive products swathed in bubble wrap. While it can be recycled in a clear plastic stream, every single bubble has to be popped first, and we are pretty sure most folks don’t bother with this. We view bubble wrap as one of the most unnecessary forms of single-use plastic that there is. Crushed paper works just as well. We do not re-use bubble wrap for packaging, because we know most people won’t take the time to recycle or re-use it, so we do two things when we receive shipments with bubble wrap. The first thing we do is recycle it, after popping every single bubble. What a pain! The second thing we do is contact the shipper and ask them to please not send us shipments with bubble wrap. After all, when we buy supplies for Aspire, we become their customers, and we make sure our voice is heard.
Peanut Packing – These days, most peanuts seem to be corn starch and not Styrofoam. This is a good thing, because Styrofoam is horrible for the planet, and hard to recycle. We used to take it to UPS or FEDEX to get rid of it and they would re-use it, but now they won’t take it. We rarely receive shipments packed in peanuts, but if we do, we let the supplier know that we don’t want them to do that. Crushed paper works just fine, so why waste money and resources on something as useless as peanuts? We make sure the peanuts are corn starch by simply dropping one in a glass of water. A corn starch peanut will break down and get gummy pretty quickly, while Styrofoam will just float forever. We have a garden and we compost all food waste at home, so we simply add the peanuts to the compost pile. To keep them from blowing around, we first put them in a bucket and mix them with water. This makes them water-logged and gooey so they don’t blow around.
Packing Tape – We started out with clear plastic tape because it’s all we could find at the typical local outlets. We have almost used all of that up, so you could still get an Aspire shipment with plastic tape, but not for much longer. We found some paper tape on-line, and will use exclusively paper once the plastic is gone. We are in the process of researching sources of biodegradable tape, to make sure that the paper tape doesn’t contain PFAS. PFAS are a class of chemicals, termed “forever chemicals”, that don’t break down and are toxic. In the past few years, these materials have been found to be ubiquitous in the environment and in our homes, polluting everything from carpet and bedding to land and water, and it turns out there are thousands of products that contain it. Since this is a relatively new environmental discovery, finding information about exactly which materials contain it is a challenge, but we’re working on it. For example, pizza boxes have been commonly coated with PFAS to keep grease from soaking into the box, and now they are working on making pizza boxes available without the PFAS. Same for packing tape.