This week, The Environmental Center team met with Angelina Swanson, Founder & Creative Director at Angelina Organic Skincare (AOS). Angelina’s business is located in a clean and bright shop in downtown Bend, where a small team of experts create small-batch natural face, bath, body and aromatherapy products. When you walk into the store, two walls of lovely glass bottles and a long table of essential oil blends greet you. There’s a sink at one end of the store where you can try out various soaps and cleansers, and open bottles throughout the store for everyone to sample. The whole experience is cheerful, and exploring the shop is fun and easy to navigate.
Aside from being a favorite stop for locals and tourists alike, Angelina is dedicated to sustainable business practices in many ways. She’s been in business for 17 years, and has always handled the manufacturing, retail and wholesale sides of the business herself. Her yoga background has guided her business philosophy of creating something without doing any harm. “Everything has a ripple effect,” she said. “With everything we do and every decision we make, we ask ourselves: Are we creating, or destroying?”
As I tour ‘behind the door,’ Angelina walks me through their small shipping department first. Everything is super well organized, and it’s clear they recycle everything possible. Paper is printed on both sides, and they even replaced traditional sticky notes with reusable jar lids. (So creative – we love this idea! Just use a dry erase marker.) It was neat to see that they reuse packaging materials from all packages they receive (mainly their ingredients) – from the cardboard boxes to various cushioning materials. My favorite part was the rubber stamp that says “Blatantly Recycled Packaging.” This is a fun way to let customers know they are recycling!
AOS has also implemented a customer bottle recycling program, where customers can return their empty glass bottle to the store. Angelina then brings the bottles home, where they are cleaned and sterilized (twice!) in her own dishwasher before being reused for new products. In 2016, over 2,500 bottles were put back in use thanks to this recycling program.
One of the first things you’ll notice about AOS products is their simple packaging. Each glass bottle or container is clear, which allows you to see the product inside (and many have beautiful, vivid colors). Packaging is important to AOS, as it needs to reflect the natural products and ingredients you’ll find in each formula. Recently, AOS recognized that the vinyl labels they’ve been using aren’t the best option anymore. Therefore, they are in the process of switching to recycled paper or BioStone labels. BioStone, a newer product, is made from stone. It’s fully compostable, including its adhesive, and is oil-resistant. So it’s a great fit for their packaging!
Angelina is committed to knowing her supply chain, from the ingredients to the bottles. She’s made conscious decisions throughout the years that allow her to source everything in a reliable, ethical way. She also tries to streamline her supply chain, acknowledging that the more steps and transfers that take place, the larger environmental footprint you leave behind. Sourcing is a big deal to AOS, and they try to work with local farmers as much as possible. For everything else, they search the world to find fair-trade farms and cooperatives that grow high-quality herbs, nuts and vegetables.
Like many business owners in Bend, Angelina does not own her building and is therefore limited in what she can do to reduce her carbon footprint. In order to do their part, AOS participates in Pacific Power’s Blue Sky Renewable Energy Program, which helps bring new renewable energy facilities on-line.
And a final fun fact about Angelina Organic Skincare? They still use a 100-year old cash register that doesn’t use electricity to operate. Not to mention it’s pretty unique and a great conversation starter!
Thanks for being a green business in Bend, Angelina Organic Skincare! Stay tuned for more stories of sustainable businesses in Central Oregon, and visit our Green Spot Directory for a list of other green spots in our community.
The following photos were provided by Angelina Organic Skincare.