After learning that far, far more of the plastic we buy ends up in landfills, the ocean, and the air we breathe than we like to believe, I did the seemingly impossible and detoxed my home from plastic. In the process, I realized that plastic packaging is absolutely everywhere—in my medicine cabinet, vanity, cupboard, refrigerator, etc., etc., etc. And as difficult as that first purge was, but it’s been even more challenging to sustain abstinence given that just about everything I “need” is sold in the ubiquitous material. A new company called Blueland, however, hopes to ease this burden by reimagining common household products sans their single-use plastic packaging.
For founder Sarah Paiji Yoo, this mission is personal. “I was horrified when I learned that the water I was using to make baby formula contained hundreds of pieces of microplastics,” she tells me. “It turns out, all this plastic we are discarding is ending up in our waterways and oceans, and now showing back up in our drinking water and food.” (She’s right—a 2017 study found that 83 percent of tap water samples studied were contaminated with plastic. The results for bottled water are even more alarming—each liter of H20 averages 325 plastic particles.)
“All this plastic we are discarding is ending up in our waterways and oceans, and now showing back up in our drinking water and food.” —Sarah Paiji, Blueland founder
Ever the innovator, Paiji wondered—just as I did some years later—if there wasn’t a way to eliminate some of the single-use plastic products populating her home. When initial investigations revealed to her that cleaning sprays are often 90 percent water, she set out to determine whether or not their active ingredients could be distilled down to tablets in order to enable refillable bottling. After years of research and development led by Syed Naqvi, formerly Director of R&D for the household products brand Method, she succeeded in doing just that. Today, Earth Day, the brand launches three household cleaners—multi-purpose, glass and mirror, and bathroom—sold in tablet form with a reusable, BPA-free bottle. To use, you simply add water to the bottle, drop in the tablet, and voila, you’re ready to clean. When the bottle empties, instead of tossing it and buying an entirely new bottle, you can instead order new tablets—which come without plastic packaging—for $2 a pop.
Blueland’s products aren’t *just* plastic-free and budget-friendly, however. Paiji tells me that she and her in-house R&D team jumped through many a hoop to create the least toxic cleaning solutions possible. Blueland products, she says, don’t contain any of the chemicals restricted by the Environmental Working Group, is compliant with California’s Proposition 65 (which dictates that brands disclose their use of chemicals “known to the State of California to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity”), and are certified “cruelty-free” by Leaping Bunny. “We spent a year developing with Cradle to Cradle, the most comprehensive safety certification you can go through,” Paiji adds.
And because none of this means anything if the products don’t work—who hasn’t, after all, given up on a non-toxic cleaning product in favor of something less friendly that will just get the job done— Paiji also emphasizes their effectiveness. To back up her claims to this end, the company’s founder tells me that laboratory testing scores revealed that Blueland’s glass cleaner beat out Windex and Method glass cleaners in all categories—cleaning, streaking, and smearing. “This [test] is the industry standard for glass cleaner effectiveness screening, and also the same test required to receive EPA Safer Choice approval, furthering our thesis that you can be both effective and non-toxic,” Paiji says.
Given Paiji’s passion—and the sheer scope of her new company, which counts Honest Company founder Brian Lee among its investors—I assume the entrepreneur plans to take Blueland far beyond these initial three offerings. “We have a dozen products already fully formulated,” she confirms, though I’m asked to remain mum about just which products she’ll be de-plasticizing next. What I can say is that Blueland will launch into other categories of cleaning and personal care products quarterly (yes, she’s coming for your shower kit, too).
Overwhelmed by plastic? Here’s the most impactful (and easy!) step you can take to reduce your use, stat. Plus, these plastic food containers aren’t safe for your health—grab reusable to-go containers instead.
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