What would a birthday be without making a wish and blowing out a candle? What about Kwanzaa or Advent? What do these celebrations look like without the intentional lighting of candles? Whether light in the darkness, fragrance for the spaces you love, or an essential link to celebration, candles have undoubtedly sustained themselves throughout history. I guess I am wondering, are candles sustainable?
That’s a more difficult question.
At EMINENCE CANDLE COLLECTIVE, sustainability is described as products that meet our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. The demand for sustainable practices from consumers has ignited more environmentally conscience production and consumption, however, the candle industry has remained primarily unchanged. The billion-dollar candle industry leaves behind an unnecessarily large environmental footprint. Whether it be wax or waste, this industry has not yet earned a seat at the table in regard to sustainability.
Much of this industry's footprint is tied to single use candle vessels. An estimated 2 billion candles are sold in any given year, with an equal or greater number ending up in landfills. As a consumer, you can extend this lifespan by repurposing your candle vessel. For instance, turning it into a pot for a plant, a cocktail glass, or even a toothbrush holder. I realize though, personal accountability is not the same as sustainability. To be sustainable, a candle must actively be anti-waste. Eminence Candle Collective is working to combat waste by implementing multi-use vessel program. Instead of disposing of the candle vessel after each use, the consumer can purchase a refill to drop right into their same, clean glass vessel.
The majority of the remaining footprint is tied to the use of petroleum-based waxes. The most commonly used candle waxes contain Paraffin. Paraffin is derived from petroleum and harvested through the energy intensive process of de-waxing. Not only is petroleum a non-renewable resource, but the petroleum content in the wax also means it can produce air pollutants when burned. The cleanest candles remain free of Phthalates, Parabens, and Dyes and contain eco-friendly wax alternatives. At Eminence Candle Collective, we adhere to these guidelines by crafting our candle wax from 100% natural materials and a blend of two natural waxes: Coconut and Apricot wax. Natural blends like this mean that the wax can be grown and harvested, making it a non-exhaustive and farm friendly resource.
The remaining footprint created by the candle industry relates to safe transport. Glass containers are bulky, heavy, and breakable. Their transportation is typically over long distances and comes with a significant carbon emission impact. Therefore, protective packaging is required to safely transport containers to retailers and/or end consumers. Using minimal packaging or packaging that has been recycled helps mitigate these packaging impacts. However, while it’s good to utilize recyclable packaging materials, it’s far more sustainable to eliminate and/or minimize the need for it altogether. Eminence Candle Collective achieves this through biodegradable packing peanuts, 100% recycled kraft packing paper, corrugated bubble wrap which is made with 100% recycled cardboard. We ship in recycled corrugated box packaging as well. To further reduce packaging, we ship our initial candle vessel in a single recyclable paperboard tube.
A candle with bright scent and minimal footprint is not the at all the industry standard. However, Eminence Candle Collective offers a Candle Refill Program that makes it easy to reuse vessels over and again for a more responsible way to candle. That is Sustainability.