When I started Babe & Bauble, I began to fully understand for the first time why it is so easy for the retail industry to contribute to the problem of waste, from all the packaging of raw materials to final products, to the environmental impact of shipping, and all the minutiae of manufacturing processes and business practices that contribute in one form or another.

As I saw waste in the form of poly bags, discarded tools, and other materials begin to pile up in my workspace, I resolved to do whatever I could to reduce Babe & Bauble's environmental impact in as many business areas as possible. Thus began many months of research, testing, and innovation to find the best suppliers and perfect new techniques that support our sustainability goals. As a core value of Babe & Bauble, sustainability is something that will always be at the forefront of our business operations and future product innovation.

I am proud to share the following steps we've taken, drawing from this extensive research and testing. I hope this provides some transparency and inspiration as you look behind the scenes!

Packaging: remove, reduce, reuse & recycle

When it comes to packaging, the remove, reduce, reuse & recycle principle (in that order) is our north star.

First, we ask whether we can completely remove any component of the packaging. For example, we don't use any unnecessary void fill such as crinkle paper. Although crinkle paper is most often made of paper, the small size can sometimes jam processing machines at recycling centers and affect the recyclability of the crinkle paper and other materials that are being processed. Furthermore, by investing in alternate, more sustainable ways to properly pad our products in shipping, we don't need the void fill at all. Therefore, the most eco-conscious thing to do is to remove it completely.

Reducing is centered around right-sizing product inner packaging and outer mailers to the products being packed and not having unnecessary extra space (which is bigger, heavier, and therefore costlier to ship in terms of actual cost and environmental impact). We tested close to a dozen inner packaging options ranging in material and size to find the perfect solution that would fit our products just right without unnecessary extra space.

We also wanted our packaging to be reusable. We opted for a clear pouch that is heavy duty enough to be used over and over again to hold snacks or other small items. Similarly, our gift wrap consists of a muslin bag that can also be reused. We encourage all of our customers to reuse as many components of our packaging as possible, as reusing items and extending their useful life is one of the single most impactful ways to reduce waste.

Lastly, considerations around recyclability are the final element to ensure a solid end-of-life plan for each component of our packaging. We know families with young children are busy, and so we wanted to make recycling our packaging as easy and convenient as possible. That means focusing on curbside recyclable materials such as paper instead of plastic-based bubble wrap or poly mailers, which are either not recyclable or require dropping off at specific locations. The only exception to our no-plastic rule is our clear pouches, and the most important reason we went with those (aside from the reusability factor mentioned above) is because they are a food-safe material--which is critically important for holding items that can potentially end up in baby's mouth. In addition to encouraging you to recycle our packaging, we are also proud to use recycled materials wherever possible. Our padded paper mailers, packing slips, and product info cards are all made from recycled papers.

Manufacturing: innovative tools and techniques to reduce waste

One of the tools we use to create every single one of our products is a lighter (used to fuse cording). When we were just starting out, we used common household lighters that are ubiquitous and typically used for lighting candles and grills. We soon realized just how quickly we were going through these non-refillable, butane gas dependent lighters, and we wanted to find a more sustainable alternative that didn't generate as much waste. We switched to rechargeable USB lighters like this one that you can charge over and over again with zero waste. If you're like us and have only ever used "normal" lighters before, consider joining us and going electric!

Suppliers: sharing our sustainability goals

One small but very impactful change we implemented was to ask our raw materials suppliers to pack in bulk rather than by individual piece. By making this change, we reduced the number of poly bags used to ship raw materials to us by about 95% for an average supply order.