AUSTIN, Texas — An Austin family is taking what would have been waste to a whole new level, and it’s about as Texas as you can get.
For most parents, kids are their inspiration. Sarah Mitchell and Ernesto Humpierres said their two boys gave them the idea to start their own company.
“When one [glass cup] broke I couldn’t replace it,” Mitchell said.
So that broken glass became a business opportunity, and that’s how Neutrall was born.
“We use them everyday,” she said. “And the kids love them.”
I’s a solution to a global issue. Only 25% of glass is recycled in the U.S. according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
“Materials that would otherwise end in the landfills and now they’ve been rescued and put to good use,” Humpierres said.
Aside from upcycling discarded glass Neutrall’s entire supply chain is carbon neutral, hence the name. Humpierres said each purchase of Neutrall glassware includes additional offsets of carbon dioxide, which is the main driver of the climate crisis.
“And it’s actually very practical and elegant,” he said.
The couple gathers discarded glass from nearby bars, like Topo Chico bottles.
“We’re excited about that opportunity of sort of, not only shifting that perspective, but give an avenue to upcycling this would-have-been waste when it’s totally, perfectly usable,” Mitchell said.
A small, family-owned business in Montgomery, Texas, makes the glassware, and the packaging design is done by an Austin Artist.
“It’s a whole unboxing experience,” Humpierres said.
The entire box is zero waste, including the insulation which is made out of corn starch. Neutrall doesn’t have any physical stores either, which is easy on the Earth and on the wallet. Humpierres says sustainability is just smart business.
“Because you’re saving on all that footprint,” he said.
For Mitchell, it’s also a passion project and her profession. She works in land conservation and ecological restoration.
“So eventually we hope that the profits will fund land restoration, which is where I’m the most excited,” she said.
The hope is once the business scales up, instead of buying into an offset fund, they will invest in carbon projects in Austin. Currently the couple is experimenting with making another line of glassware with upcycled wine bottles, which they expect will be the next product on the market.