This company makes sustainable cleaning products

The world has created more than 8 billion tons of plastic, and 91% of it is probably not recycled. We could even ingest the equivalent of a plastic credit card every week, and our marine life consumes it too. This is symptomatic of our current era, which some have dubbed the “Plasticene” era.

Sarah Paji Yoo [Photo: Matt Kelly/courtesy Blueland]

A significant issue is single-use plastics, those items we buy once and throw away. Most are synthetic plastics, made from fossil fuels, which then remain in the environment. Even many bioplastics, those made from organic sources, are not biodegradable. It’s possible to design bioplastics that break down, but companies must also rethink production to put sustainability front and center from the start.

In the cleaning products industry, single-use products are often a given. But in today’s episode of Ideas that change the world podcast, after a brief explanation of how plastic is made, we turn to a company that eliminated plastics from its products from the start. Blueland Founder Sarah Paiji Yoo shares her story, from the industry’s initial backlash, which ‘adamantly thought we were crazy’, to today, where she believes Blueland has helped wipe out a billion of plastic cleaning bottles from landfills and oceans. .

It all started with the realization that more than 90% of a cleaning product is water. “It doesn’t make sense that we not only buy a new plastic bottle every time we run out of cleaning solution, but also pay for all that water,” says Paiji Yoo. Her vision was to create a cleaning product in the form of dry tablets, to which consumers would add water themselves. “It seemed like a good idea to only sell what the consumer needs,” she says.

[Photo: courtesy Blueland]

After the refusal of the traditionalists of the industry, who told him:[We’re] I don’t know how you plan to magically convert these liquid ingredients into dry products,” she recruited chemical engineer Syed Naqvi, who became chief innovation officer. They’ve developed a line of products, including hand soaps, cleaning sprays, and dish soaps, that deliver the same “rich lather” experience and comparable price points, but with environmental benefits.

[Photo: courtesy Blueland]

The paper wrapper that protected the tablets was another hurdle, adding another year to their development. “You can’t just use plain old paper,” says Paiji Yoo, because the packaging must preserve the contents from fluctuating conditions such as high heat and humidity. “We actually thought it was going to derail the whole concept.” Blueland, certified B Corp and Climate Neutral, is now one of many cleaning product companies with this common mission, including Grove Collaborative, CleanPath and CleanCult.

[Photo: courtesy Blueland]

Tune in to hear Blueland’s story and their experience in securing a deal on shark tank. “It’s definitely one of the most stressful experiences I’ve ever had,” says Paiji Yoo. “You feel like the end goal of the people on the other side of the table is to tear you apart and make good TV.”

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