Company Sets a Higher Standard for the Health & Beauty Industry
By Joshua Scott Onysko, Founder and CEO of Pangea Organics
Last year, my organic body- and skincare company Pangea Organics went plastic free! While many health and beauty businesses are still wrapping their products in plastics, at Pangea we have transitioned to recyclable aluminum and glass, and compostable wood pulp. We mark our products with a small sea turtle icon, indicating they are completely plastic free, and thus compatible with #LifeAfterPlastic.
Inspired by Sea Turtles
My connection to sea turtles is personal: When I was 19 years old, I moved to Costa Rica and Nicaragua to work with a conservation team on the Caribbean coast, and we’d stay up all night to guard egg-laying sea turtles, protecting them from poachers. I’ve also been a longtime scuba diver and seeing plastic pollution in our oceans entangling the inhabitants was (and still is) devastating to me.
Sea turtles are harmed by plastic items people use everyday, including plastic packaging and other single-use plastic products like straws, face masks, and bags. Plastic is a physical danger to sea turtles, causing entanglement and entrapment, and choking and bodily blockages. But plastic is also a chemical danger to sea turtles, exposing them to a constant stream of toxic chemicals, with which plastic is made and which leach out into nature and living bodies.
Our Transition to Plastic-Free Packaging
At Pangea, we hold ourselves to a standard of continuously raising the bar to push for real change in the beauty industry. Over the past year, we transitioned Pangea (as well as our sister brand, Alpine Provisions) to completely plastic-free packaging to hold our organic, fairly sourced, and cruelty free body- and skincare products.
The transition to plastic-free packaging was a significant investment for us to make, and we have paid attention to every detail—down to the custom aluminum cap on our tubes. The caps are a first-to-market innovation, two-and-a-half years in the making. All of our secondary packaging is also fully recyclable and/or compostable; the molded fiber clamshells used on all our glass bottles are made of wood pulp and completely compostable.
The Problem with Plastics
In my opinion, every company should be working to eliminate plastics from their businesses. More than 400 million metric tons of new plastic are produced globally each year. Instead of being truly recycled, about 79% of plastic has been historically dumped in landfills and the natural environment, about 12% has been burned (incinerated), and much plastic is shipped “away” to become someone else’s problem. Most often, plastic waste is sent to BIPOC, rural, or low-income communities. Plastic is not truly recycled like other materials: We need to refill, reuse, repair, share, and enact and enforce legislation that holds the plastics and petrochemical industries accountable for the pollution they have created.
Building an Eco-Conscious Company
It’s been my lifelong dream to build a health and beauty brand with the highest quality clean ingredients, and support small organic farmers around the world. When I was young, my mom kept a coffee-table book about organic ingredients. One day, it inspired us to make a small batch of organic soaps by hand together, out of our garage. We started selling the soaps in our local farmers markets, and to our delight, they continually sold out.
This organic soap making experience led me to start researching the health and beauty industry, and I decided to travel the world. On these travels, I began to build relationships and a vast network of organic farmers in over 50 regions. After two years of traveling, I knew the business I wanted to build needed to support small, organic, regenerative farms with fair labor practices.
Meaningful change can start with making one informed, conscious decision. I want to inspire all industries to put the Earth and our health ahead of profit and start to rethink and redesign how we package our products. And I want consumers to know that they can be empowered by their choices, including the purchase of high quality health and beauty products that do not contain toxins or plastics.
How You Can Help
People can be a part of solutions by investing in reusable, refillable, and truly recyclable plastic-free products. Give Pangea a try! We hope consumers and brands alike will join us in our #LifeAfterPlastic mission. We are strongly aligned with the work of Plastic Pollution Coalition, and are proud Plastic Pollution Coalition Business Members. We know change starts with information and education, and people who are passionate about a cause.
This World Turtle Day, we’re bringing attention to the sea turtle icon we place on our plastic-free packaging as a way for us to educate and encourage conversations about the impacts of plastic pollution, which are vast. Not only do plastics harm turtles, but all life on Earth. It’s more important now than ever before to make safe, healthy, and affordable plastic-free products widely available. Pangea, our name, is symbolic of our vision: Bringing the world back together again.