Small Steps, Big Change

I talk regularly with my clients about taking small steps that lead to big change. This concept holds true in business, and it holds true in our daily lives. Being at home more has made us all more aware of our habits as consumers, which leads to some great opportunities to rethink the products we buy and how we buy them. Over the past few years, I’ve seen this impact in our home as we’ve tried to be a bit more aware of how our consumer choices affect our lives and the planet. This post is not meant to start a debate on climate change— whatever you believe is up to you— but I think everyone can agree that it is all our responsibility to do what we can to take care of our planet and leave it in the best shape possible for future generations. With that in mind, here are a few amazing consumer-based startup businesses that are doing their part to help you do yours.

Organix Solutions is a Minnesota-based company aimed at reducing consumer waste by making composting more widespread and available. They partner with trash collection companies in Minnesota to offer a composting solution to communities through their Blue Bag and Green Bag programs. We signed up for the program two years ago after my own efforts to compost in our backyard resulted in no compost. . . . and a family of raccoons moving in. The beauty of this program is how easy it is. We receive a year’s supply of Blue Bags, into which all our organic waste (leftover food, coffee grounds, paper plates, napkins, paper towels) goes. The bags go into the garbage can, the bags are separated by the collection company and sent to a composting facility, and that compost is sold to garden centers. It has made us more aware of what we throw away, and has significantly reduced what we send to landfills; we are down to one bag of “trash” per week.

Blueland offers kitchen and bath cleaning products and foaming hand soap in reusable containers. Their spray bottles and soap dispensers are durable, reusable, and refillable. Yes, any soap dispenser or spray bottle can be refilled, but the real magic of Blueland is that their refills come in the form of solid, nickel-sized tablets that are mixed with water inside the bottles. This eliminates the need for single-use plastic bottles, as well as the shipping, storage, and stocking of products that are 90%+ water (plus, less shipping/storage cost equals better pricing). On their website, Blueland states “we shouldn’t have to sacrifice a clean home for a clean planet. Our mission is simple— make being eco easy with innovative products in reusable packaging that are convenient, effective, and affordable.” The products are "clean," the packaging is compostable and recyclable, and they are reducing the need for single-use plastics. We’ve been using the products for six months; the products are great, the tiny tablets are easy to store so you can stock up, and after the initial order, which includes purchasing the bottles, the pricing is comparable to store brands (just under $2 per refill)— win, win, win!

Dropps is relatively new to our household. They sell clean (plant-based, no dyes or fillers) dishwasher and laundry detergent in pod form, also eliminating the need for plastic bottles and containers. The products ship carbon-neutral in zero-waste packaging (cardboard that can be recycled or composted). Dropps states “We believe that individuals and families can take simple steps to replace everyday products that are both eco-responsible and economical - which, if multiplied across a multitude of individuals and families, can have a measurable impact on the planet.” We've been using dishwasher detergent for a few months, and it is excellent and convenient. We just switched over to the laundry detergent as well. Pricing is more expensive than the big brands but very comparable with any “clean” brands.

Imperfect Foods is the latest on our personal list, and it may be my favorite. According to their website, Imperfect Foods “. . . .was founded in 2015 with a mission to eliminate food waste and build a better food system for everyone. We offer imperfect (yet delicious) produce, affordable pantry items, and quality eggs and dairy. We deliver them conveniently to our customers’ doorsteps and pride ourselves on offering up to a 30% discount compared to grocery store prices.” Food producers regularly have to discard overstocked, unwanted, or misshapen food and produce that grocers and restaurants cannot or will not accept. Imperfect Foods buys that excess food (at a reduced price and sells it to their customers. Their veggies are small, or weirdly-shaped. . . . and delicious. It eliminates food waste and cuts down on trips to the grocery store. As with all the others, the items are packaged in recyclable or reusable containers (they’ll take the boxes, insulation, and freezer packs back to use again). According to our account, we’ve saved 68 pounds of food, 2,720 gallons of water, and 232 pounds of CO2 emissions since February.

The final company on the list is Who Gives a Crap. They are a non-profit (the only one of the five) that sells— you guessed it— toilet paper, tissues, and paper towels. Their products are made from either recycled materials or sustainable bamboo and are packaged plastic-free. Most impressively, they donate 50% of their profits to build toilets in countries that need them. As a bonus, there is plenty of bathroom humor on the site; they take their mission seriously, but not themselves. I’ve heard great things about the product from friends and family that use them, but I cannot give feedback because they are, not surprisingly, sold out!

Giant, sweeping changes are hard for everyone and difficult to sustain. But we don’t need to take drastic measures to make a difference. There are small steps that we can all take that, collectively, will make a big difference in our individual lives, and our world.

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