Each year, more than 60 million plastic bottles end up in landfills globally. While recycling and creative reuse have helped stem the tide, generating little-to-no-waste is an even better solution. Enter SOAPBOTTLE, a new line of personal care products made entirely of usable soap.
Created and developed by German designer Jonna Breitenhuber, the concept behind SOAPBOTTLE emerged as she pursued her studies in product design at the University of Arts in Berlin, while also working as a packaging designer for cosmetic products. Frustrated with the waste and pollution that was all-but-baked into the design and development process, she began to research packaging-free, solid personal care products, but noticed there were few alternatives for liquid products.
Seeking to replace the kind of disposable, single-use plastics that make up the bulk of this type of consumer waste, she began experimenting in her studio with several prototypes before arriving at a line of brightly colored bottles, each containing 100 ml of a soft and soothing body wash made from natural ingredients, now funding on Kickstarter until April 22.
"By turning the product into packaging, we have designed a new solution for liquid-care products," says Breitenhuber, who notes that traditional liquid-care packaging can take up to 400 years to degrade. And with its minimalist, almost Bauhaus-like packaging, SOAPBOTTLE proves that the circular economy can be chic as well as responsible.
Breitenhuber has always taken an interest in the natural world, in recent years educating herself on the climate movement and the need for sustainability. "Each individual bears responsibility and contributes with his or her own decisions to improve something," she says, noting that it is the designer's responsibility to create products that are not only long-lasting and timeless, but also environmentally friendly. After testing out prototypes in wax, metal, glass, and ceramics, she wanted to be more daring, inspired by the food industry where products themselves often become packaging—imagine an ice cream cone or an edible bread bowl. Similarly, with SOAPBOTTLE, once the liquid contents are finished, the empty container can be used as regular hand soap that safely goes down the drain, often decomposing in the sewage plant within days.
Even the soap for SOAPBOTTLE's packaging is made from organic ingredients, including natural oils and caustic soda. "When the container is used, the material washes away together with the used water," says Brietenhuber, explaining that not only is the container reusable, but its stainless steel metal closure can be stamped and bent into shape and reused over and over again. "Simply clip the remaining metal piece on the next SOAPBOTTLE!" she explains. SOAPBOTTLE's labels are made from recycled paper and printed with nature-inspired colors like Mint green and Raspberry red.
So far, SOAPBOTTLE has been a success at European design fairs and events, including Salone Satellite and FachPack, and has received Awards for design and sustainability, including the Federal Eco-Design Award, the highest award for ecological design in Germany. Through the German Design Graduates Initiative, Breitenhuber also won an exhibition space for SOAPBOTTLE at Ambiente in Frankfurt, a leading consumer goods fair. And SOAPBOTTLE has found exciting partners, including the clean-water champion Marie-Stella-Maris, which has financed drinking water and hygiene initiatives globally with their foundation. But while these accolades celebrate SOAPBOTTLE's potential to make an impact, Breitenhuber is excited to get the product into people's hands, through her current Kickstarter campaign and beyond.
Once her Kickstarter campaign ends, Breitenhuber and her team plan to concentrate fully on SOAPBOTTLE, growing the brand stateside and beyond. She's also determined to create more SOAPBOTTLE products in various shapes and colors, potentially in collaboration with future partners, hoping that, together, "they can inspire and encourage a change towards more sustainability in the industry."