Check this. It's 7am, I didn't sleep well, kids got up at 5am and both Mandy (my wife) and I are super cranky. We all have to get out the door by 7:45 and so when Mandy volunteers to be on dish duty, I watch in anticipation.
She did it again. She reached for the plastic bottle of 'eco friendly' dish soap.
I bite my tongue, but I'm kind of pissed. If we can't start using our own Dish Soap, how is anyone else going to? Plus, we had been working on it - or to be more accurate, the biodegradable pod that holds it - for months now. This 'project' was turning into a marathon when we expected it to be a sprint. I was at one of many breaking points...
Check yourself Reble.
Truth is, 7am on a weekday is the BEST time to product test, 'cause if it isn't easy to use, it won't be used. Period.
So... back to the lab we went.
Changing habits are tough, kinda like developing new products, but the end result is totally worth it.
Ever since launching our Beeswax foodwraps & bags, our customers asked us what Dish Soap they should use to wash them. And we always ended up recommending soaps that were packaged in plastic bottles. Makes no sense if we're trying to help people get rid of plastic, right? So we started down the long and winding road to developing our own PLASTIC-FREE liquid Dish Soap.
We started with some pretty cool concepts like this (stay tuned, we haven't given up on this concept, it's just going to take more time)...
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Testing time! We're developing a plastic free - liquid dish soap. The idea is that the packaging would be some form of biodegrdable capsule (like the prototype featured) that we would ship in kraft paper boxes. Then you could take these concentrated capsules and either put them in a glass dispenser that would simply require some water to turn it into a form of liquid dish soap that you would use just like your existing dish soap or you could drop right into your sink. Plastic bottles make no sense - they're made of petroleum and the recycling process is complex, wasteful and extremely inefficient (only 8% of plastic is actually recycled). What do you think? Help us shape the plastic free future! Share with a friend and add your comments below... • • #plasticfree #breakfreefromplastic #plasticfreeliving #plasticfreeforthesea #plasticfreeoceans #plasticfreelife #saynotoplastic #ditchtheplastic #noplastic #singleuseplastic #singleusesucks
And we tried again.
After several more iterations, we landed on a pod made of all natural materials. But... just because we figured out the pod, didn't mean it would never leak - back to the drawing board....
After several more attempts and some great feedback from our Plastic Free Club members, we figured out a completely plastic free solution.
This was HUGE for us because if it took off, this packaging could be used for everything from Shampoo and Body Wash, to Soap and All Purpose cleaners.
It also meant that not only were we able to eliminate plastic packaging, but we were cutting back on Carbon Fuel emissions, both by eliminating plastic and reducing the shipping weight. (Most Dish Soaps are 90% water, but we removed the water and just packed it with cleaning agents, so the end result was a concentrate that was ultra light in comparison to regular detergents).
And it really does work!
Each concentrated pod is made with 100% plant-based ingredients.
Great, right? It's plastic free, it's plant based and it's delivers a powerful clean. BUT... there was one more challenge. BUBBLES.
Bubbles - How Important are they?
Our soap does not retain bubbles like Dawn. Why? We removed all the cosmetic binders and foaming agents, because you don't need artificial suds to get a powerful clean. In fact, those 'suds' are really just cosmetic...
That said, we're still on the fence about the bubbles. You see, most of us are used to suds, and so when they are gone, it feels weird, like 'where's the clean'? And if you're already making a switch to plastic free, are you also going to want to go sud free? Here's the thing though... we purposely removed the artificial foaming agent SLS (found in almost all Dish Soaps from Dawn to Seventh Generation) because:
"Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), is a skin, eye and respiratory tract irritant and toxic to aquatic organisms." (David Suzuki Foundation)
So, we sent some samples to Tree Hugger - a news outlet known for sustainability and green living to get their feedback. Here's what they said:
"[etee] has an impressive list of new products about to launch. These include plastic-free dish soap (it comes as a paste in an awesome pouch that you mix with water in a glass jar to use – I've tried it and it's amazing)..." (Tree Hugger Magazine, Katherine Martinko, June 28th, 2019)
Amazing right? Buuut, while we LOVE the support of the Tree Huggers of the world, we're not going to make a massive change if it's only the 'tree huggers' who use our stuff. Hence why we're on the fence about the bubbles, which has left us asking "should we just solve one problem at a time ie. plastic-free, or should we also get rid of SLS if it means losing some customers?: (if you have any thoughts on the matter, please comment below). Tough one right?
That said, like a lot of new ideas, those who like it reaaaally like it.
But, for all those sud heads, there's a bit of an uphill challenge.
And that - my friend - is the glory of product development.
So there you have it. Innovation is possible. Change takes time, but if you keep going, it will happen. And today, we can proudly say that - despite the setbacks - we have made the world's first plastic-liquid dish soap. Not bad for a little Canadian start-up, eh?
Want to check it out?
Just ask Mandy, etee's Plastic-Free Dish Soap is now the ONLY Dish Soap in our house. And one day, I hope it's the only Dish Soap in your house too!
Special shout out to Jackie, Van, Shandra and the whole Oshawa team; Michelle & Diane in product Dev; Melanie, Stephen, Jamil and Jay in the marketing team and Monique, Ashley and Amber on Customer Service, Pj (my founding partner) and of course Mandy, Jo-Jo, Hucky and the 'B'. Together, we are making things better. You can too!
Over and ooot.