The Hyggelight Growing Candle is a sustainable way to buy candles without having to worry about the problems that come at the end of life for a typical candle. The candle itself is in a flower pot and has a piece of seed paper placed on top. Once the Hyggelight candle is completely burned, the pot and seed paper can be used to grow wildflowers rather than throwing away the candle container and becomes a decorative addition to the office or home.
Connery Van Dyke
The University of Toledo
The Hyggelight Growing Candle was created by Cris and Cyndi Hileman. They started the business because of Cyndi’s love for candles. She found herself constantly buying them but their containers would always lay around the house unused. So she wanted to find a way to make it more sustainable. They wanted to create a product that had almost zero waste and used no plastic as well as outsourcing all of their materials locally. Thus the idea of the Growing Candle was born.
The sustainability friendly soy wax for the Hyggelight candles is poured into flower pots and a piece of seed paper is placed on top of each candle. This way when the candle is all used up consumers can then grow wildflowers from the pots creating zero waste. They also print the instructions for the candle on the back of a painting so that way you can hang it up as a piece of art in your house and it does not become waste.
The Hyggelight candle falls under sustainability goal eight which is decent work and economic growth and twelve which is responsible consumption and production. Their solution to creating sustainable candles is another way people can eliminate waste. Every part of the candle can be reused. Sourcing locally also allows them to help improve their local economy by supporting businesses in their community. Overall the Hyggelight candle wants to create a product that not only satisfies the consumer but makes the world a better place. They are constantly looking at ways to improve so they can continue to do business the most sustainably.
Cyndi and Chris found the inspiration they needed in their daily life; “The thing that got us thinking about candles in the first place was Cyndi's own personal candle use/addiction”. They would go to the farmers market and buy handcrafted 100% soy, clean-burning candles, but then came to realize that candle containers had no second life and ended up sitting on a shelf somewhere collecting dust. It felt very wasteful to the two of them, so it became one of their core values to create something that is less cradle to grave: “we were putting a lot of thought into how we as individuals can lower our environmental impact, how we can be more efficient, how we can have less waste, how we could bring fewer things into our lives that have single-use packaging or single-use plastic”.
The next challenge that they faced with the creation of their product was coming up with a way to use the empty pots after the candle was done being burned. The inspiration to use seed paper to package their candles came while they were talking about the end-use of their product and the mail was delivered. It turns out that it was a thank you card from a friend written on seed paper. It was the first time either of them had heard of seed paper and the idea to combine the two was instantaneous. Once the candle was gone, customers would use the seed paper and plant it in the pot, effectively keeping it out of a landfill.
Chris and Cyndi created a product that is cradle to cradle instead of cradle to grave like most other candles. As opposed to a single-use or plastic product that must be thrown away, there is less waste with this product and it promotes a healthier lifestyle. They also make a point to have as little waste as possible when it comes to the manufacturing and packaging of the product. They believe that it is the responsibility of the company to make a product easy to be sustainable and not put pressure on the consumer. Having consumers use the candle containers as plant potters prevents them from throwing the containers away where they would end up in a landfill. Hyggelight aspires to reduce their waste as much as possible and they source everything they can locally, recycle everything they can, and package their product with recyclable non-plastics. Chris stated: “We are also obsessed with sustainability, the environmental impact, and the sustainability aspect, those are boxes we would check regardless of our branding as it is consistent with our personal values,” and this is evident in their newest goal of offering carbon-neutral shipping as an option on their website by purchasing carbon offsets.
Owning a small sustainable business has impacted their lives as well, and Chris feels that the biggest impact is personal. That they can enjoy the things that make life important and promote that with their product. A lot of people gift Hyggelight to their loved ones and it is more than just a thoughtful gift, it brings people together and it spreads the word about sustainability.
This innovation of the Growing Candle concept led to the creation of Chris and Cyndi’s small business, Hyggelight. Chris and Cyndi’s goal was to bring innovation into a space that had not undergone very much change. Once they had thought up the Growing Candle concept, their small business was able to take off. This innovation has brought their now small business Hyggelight lots of success. One of these areas of success has been through organizations desiring to feature Hyggelight. The company has been featured on two podcasts: NPR's How I Built This podcast and the Side Hustle School podcast. Both podcasts featured the story of how Hyggelight and the Growing Candle innovation were started as well as how the candles make a profit for the business.
Chris and Cyndi have also advertised their innovation as a great gift for people who want to bring comfort to their homes in an eco-friendly product. Through this space of gift-giving, the company was asked by Good Morning America to be a part of the show’s segment Deals and Steals, which offers discounts on small business’ items on a site only accessed with a code from the TV program. Hyggelight has been featured on the program near Mother’s Day and Christmas, and the TV program brought many sales into the company. For example, the first time Hyggelight was a part of GMA’s Deals and Steals, they produced 10,000 units of candles for the segment. These 10,000 units sold out within one hour of the segment’s premiere. Due to the innovation of a reusable candle pot and the seed paper labels, Hyggelight was born and has created a growing small business over its four years in the industry.
The invention of the Hyggelight candle benefits both the environment and society through its introduction into the market. Focusing on its environmental benefit, the Hyggelight candle’s main advantage is that it prevents waste in both its production and application. Chris and Cyndi Hileman have been working towards a zero-waste product for the end consumer for their candles. They approached this issue by reinventing the container for the candle to be aesthetically pleasing so that owners will want to keep the pot around rather than throw them away. Furthermore, each Hyggelight candle is packaged with a piece of seed paper so that consumers can continue to use the candle pot after the candle has completely melted.
Another way that the Hileman’s have brought the candle closer to zero-waste is in the production processes. Almost all of the materials, except the ceramic pots, used to create the candles are bought locally, reducing the carbon emissions for these transportations. Currently, Chris and Cyndi are looking to buy completely local and are searching for a business to purchase ceramic pots from. Lastly, the boxes and materials used to ship Hyggelight candles are almost always on their second life cycle and have been made from previously recycled materials.
While the candle has had a plethora of positive environmental impacts, it also has many positive social impacts. The major social impact is that it is very decorative and pleasantly fragrant. These features are desirable to many and cause people to want to purchase these candles because of their sustainability and the product itself. The more that people like the product for its main purpose, the more that they will be inclined to purchase it for the additional sustainability benefits. This, in turn, supports the local businesses that sell to Hyggelight which supports reduced carbon emissions. The Hyggelight candle is both socially and environmentally beneficial and strives to be better every day with continued innovations.
Chris Hileman, Co-founder
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Toledo, Ohio, US
Business Website: https://www.thegrowingcandle.com/pages/our-story
Year Founded: 2017
Number of Employees: 2 to 10
The company for this project is Hyggelight, and their main product is the Growing Candle. Cris and Cyndi Hileman founded Hyggelight in 2017 and started by pouring candles in the basement of their home because they wanted to create a sustainable product while filling a niche in the market. Chris told us: “We want to make it easy to be eco-friendly with the products that we offer”. Chris and Cyndi jump-started their business by traveling to farmer’s markets to sell their products as well as through e-commerce on their website. Each Hyggelight candle is contained within a flower pot and packaged with seed paper so that wildflowers can be grown in the candle container at the end of the candle’s life. Since the product’s beginning, Hyggelight continues to grow and has kept its focus on a sustainable product throughout its whole life cycle.