Walk down nearly any street in the city and at some point, you’ll have to step gingerly across a bit of garbage strewn across the footpath. Much of this garbage is likely to consist of packaging and various forms of plastic that gets blown around by the breeze. Packaging is our founder Huda’s pet peeve and she took extra care when it came to conceptualising it for The Huda Bar. She did NOT want to see our wrapping in these piles of garbage. Most of our packaging is either reusable or 100% recyclable so it doesn’t need to go to a landfill at all.
As customers, if you’re not able to utilise our packaging further or recycle it, we’re also happy to take it all back. Read on to see what we do with it.
Branded THB packaging (including the print on them) are made with non-toxic materials. That’s why you’ll see that our packaging doesn’t ‘pop’ as much as brightly coloured chips packets or other granola bars.
NO Metallised Polyester
If you see a nice shiny metallic silver-coloured plastic layer inside a packet of chips or biscuits, this is metallised polyester. Metallised polyester is a single-use material. The only thing one can do with it is burn it or send it to a landfill. This makes it one of the worst materials for the environment. Metallised polyester is popularly used because it allows for a longer shelf-life and is very inexpensive. And since we do not use it, it limits the way we sell and where we sell THB products. More on this later!
Let’s take a closer look at each of our packaging to see exactly how sustainable they are and why.
The Huda Bars
Aluminium foil: Our granola bars are first neatly wrapped up in food-grade aluminium foil. This is 18 microns thick so it can be recycled. Depening on how well it is segregated and disposed, aluminium can be recycled almost endlessly. Just hand it over to the local radhiwala or the daily garbage collection auto.
Carboard boxes: This carefully wrapped bar slides into a box that’s made with cardboard (unbleached kraft paper) so it can be recycled. If the box is clean and in good condition, we can reuse it. If not, we either recycle it or cut it up and reuse it as stuffing/packing material.
The printing on packaging is often the toxic chemical part - in particular a white hue that makes the design ‘pop.’ Have you noticed that the colours on our boxes are quite muted? We print our boxes without this component so even if the box ends up decomposing somewhere, it won’t leach harmful chemicals into the soil.
Aluminium foil & butter paper: Each Nutjob is individually wrapped in butter paper and then aluminum foil. This prevents the ingredients from seeping through, helps preserve the product’s freshness and prevents us from having to use plastic! It’s painstaking work to wrap each individually but well worth the effort.
Virgin craft paper: The stickers for the Nutjobs are made with virgin craft paper so it can be recycled and it hasn’t been treated with any chemicals. The stickers don’t have a plastic layer either. However, the ink used can be improved in terms of its environmental-friendliness. We are researching better ways to do this.
Honeys, Teas, Hot Chocolate Mix and Fresh Produce
Glass jars with tin lids: Glass can be sterilised and reused endlessly. The caps of these jars are made with tin which can also be sterilised and reused.
Granolas & Muesli
Recyclable plastic: At the moment, our granola is packaged in plastic packets for outstation deliveries. These are thick enough to be reused and recycled a number of times. However, we are experimenting with using glass jars for granola being sent locally. We’re working on doing much better here.
Wooden boxes: We use handmade wooden boxes for our large hampers. These are from the Eden Studio, a local artisan studio working in small batches.
Cardboard gift boxes: The smaller hamper boxes are sourced from the ‘The Second Life’ and their team of women who make these completely by hand. They try to keep machine usage in their processes to a minimum. Their boxes and wrapping paper are made from upcycled materials only. Even the ribbons that they provide us with are upcycled from scraps sourced from garment factories.
Potlis: To prevent anything being wrapped in plastic, these potlis come to the rescue. They are locally sourced and made from scrap cloth or by local artisans.
All our hampers have almost no THB branding so that the boxes and potlis can be repurposed and reused as you like.
The paper bags that many of you receive your orders locally in are sourced from Sandhya Kirana. This is an organisation in Bangalore that offers economically disadvantaged senior citizens with a way to support themselves and live with dignity.
More than just pretty wrapping.
Is The Huda Bar the perfect model for sustainable packaging? Definitely not. The truth is that there’s a lot more to these bits of wrapping than meets the eye. Most of us barely pay attention to this layer, it’s on our minds just long enough to figure out how to rip it off. And then toss it into the bin as we bite into the delicious treat it held.
The impact of packaging, any packaging, begins from the moment of its creation. It’s not just what happens to the wrapper after use.
We need to ask ourselves - how is each constituent material sourced? What are the processes involved in using these to create packaging? How much energy is used in these processes? How are they then sold, transported and used? And, then, what happens after? Just considering the amount of work that goes into making each little wrapper, and then the impact it has on the earth is humbling.
As a business, we know what goes into the decision making process of opting for one over the other. For instance, since we do not use metallised polyester, it limits the way we sell and where we sell THB products. We are careful to give our customers only freshly made and well-preserved products. And to ensure this level of quality control without conventional packaging means that we can only sell via specialty stores and outlets, or send out products straight from our kitchen. Which is what we do.
Sustainable packaging calls for sustained research.
There is no single formula for sustainable packaging, it looks different for each product and takes into account multiple factors. The best we can do is be mindful of our impact, continue to research ways to improve our packaging and experiment with the innovations that are constantly being developed. At The Huda Bar, we find it most constructive to stay open to new learning and ideas.
We're inspired by the ever-growing awareness and customer enthusiasm towards choosing sustainable products and local businesses (yours!). Even if its not always the 'easy' choice to make. Onward ho.