What is a Sustainable Candle?

Many candles are marketed as EcoFriendly, or Green, or even Sustainable, but what do these terms mean? Some candle shops with environmental messaging speak only to the type of wax used in their products, while other makers use these terms to indicate they use only organic materials in the making of their candles. Sometimes these terms are meant to address parts of, or the entire process of making, packaging, and shipping the candles to customers. Some candle shops use these terms interchangeably, adding to the confusion. 

EcoFriendly and Green are similar terms and often used interchangeably.  These terms are used to describe a product that has less impact on the environment than what is normally used. They imply care for the environment, such as not emitting harmful contaminants into the air or water.  But they don’t require a complete look at the entire process around the making/packaging/shipping of the product.  For example, a product that is marketed as EcoFriendly or Green could be made from renewable resources, but the process to produce the item could be energy intensive, or there might not be a good way to dispose of it when it's no longer of use. 

The term Sustainability is used to discuss the impacts of a product (or service) over its lifetime, not just on the environment, but also on people, the environment, the economy, and society.  A product can be sustainable, and made from ecofriendly or green materials, but not all ecofriendly or green products are sustainable.  

Sustainability is a term that we are seeing a lot these days, but what does it really mean?  Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines sustainability as: 

“1. Capable of being sustained.  

2a. Of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged, e.g., sustainable techniques; sustainable agriculture. 

2b. Of or relating to a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods, e.g., sustainable society. “

This definition is a good starting point, but sustainability is so much more than environmental commitments. It also includes human, societal and economic components. The concept of sustainability is discussed at a high level in this article; it's an enormous topic worthy of additional attention.  

To return to the topic originally addressed by this post, what is a sustainable candle?

A sustainable candle is made with the following characteristics:

  • Raw materials are ethically produced, workers treated fairly
  • Environmentally sound agricultural and/or production practices are used 
  • Purchases of goods and supplies support local economies 
  • Raw material suppliers and vendors have stated commitments to diversity & inclusion and carbon neutrality
  • Use of sound environmental practices for minimizing waste, reuse of materials, and recycling 

Shopping the candle marketplace can be an exhausting experience, especially for those of us who look for products that align with our personal philosophies. It is often time consuming to identify these makers and their products.  Searching the internet for the term, “sustainable candles” yields mostly listicle style articles and few maker websites.  Listicles can be a good place to start in your search to identify makers who produce sustainable candles. Just be aware that the quality of listicle content varies a lot, and the makers have paid to have their candles promoted. You will still need to read the fine print to find the best sustainable candle maker for your needs. 

The best thing to do is find companies that speak to you and look for their sustainability statements. This can be found as a stand-alone page or in simple statements made throughout the website. Sometimes it is placed in a FAQ or the About Us section.

At Sunset View and Rose, our vision of sustainability is to create handmade products that do not burden our environment or society.  We consider our entire process in this vision.  We believe purchases should be made with intentionality.  We believe it's important to follow the Reduce-Reuse-Recycle framework. Check out our Sustainability Statement and our About Us pages for details beyond this article. 

We preferentially choose to purchase materials (like candle wax and fragrance oils) and supplies (like jars) from vendors who post clearly stated commitments to sustainability, and diversity & inclusion.  We also preferentially select supplies that can be reused, are made with recycled content, or can be readily recycled (like retail and shipping boxes, labels, and stickers).  

Our soy wax is sourced exclusively from domestically produced soybeans, supporting American farmers and their environmental commitments to soil conservation, as well as our economy.  Our soy wax supplier has clearly stated commitments to Sustainability, and Diversity & Inclusion, as well as the ethical treatment of workers. Additionally, our coconut apricot wax is ethically and domestically sourced. Rattan reeds and sola wood flowers used in our reed diffusers are ethically and sustainably sourced. 

Our signature Spanish glass candle jars are made from 100% recycled glass. Less energy is needed to produce recycled glass versus new glass, and as a result, fewer natural resources are needed and fewer emissions are released into the air. 

Once the candle is spent, these jars can be cleaned and reused in many ways, for example drinking glasses, parfait glasses, plant pots, small containers, and whatever else you can imagine. They can be reused for new candles, either holding a pillar or a new hand poured candle.  Check out our vessel return program, we love to have your used Spanish glass candle jars. If they are no longer needed, they can donated to a secondhand shop or sold to hobbyist candle makers through social sites. They can also be recycled. 

We use premium fragrance oils that are specifically made for use in candles; these oils are vegan and free from phthalates, carcinogens, mutagens, and endocrine disrupters. They make fantastic scented candles, reed diffusers and room & linen sprays.

Our main suppliers of fragrance oils, candle wax and wicks, and candle jars have stated commitments to Diversity & Inclusion and Sustainability. Some of our suppliers also have committed to Carbon Neutrality. For example, every time you use Shop Pay (Shopify hosted websites) and Etsy, you are getting a product with carbon neutral shipping. 

While it does take effort to be an intentional consumer, it can also be very rewarding when you find the products you love that are also good for this earth. Always be inquisitive - reach out to your favorite makers to inquire about their environmental commitments if it’s not clearly posted on their website.

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