What are the dangers and impacts of conventional cleaning supplies, laundry detergents and chemical products on your health and the environment? Find out in today's episode featuring the founder and environmental engineer behind Meliora Cleaning products, a Chicago-based manufacturer of people- and planet-friendly household cleaners.
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During this episode, you'll learn:
More about Meliora Cleaning Products:
MELIORA MEANS BETTER: Pronounced meh-lee-OR-ah, Meliora Cleaning Products is a Certified B Corp committed to people, planet, and profit.
About Kate Jakubas:
Kate Jakubas is the Founder of Meliora Cleaning Products and an Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Stuart School of Business. Kate earned her BS in Materials Science and Engineering (MatSE) in 2006 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her Masters in Environmental Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 2013. She holds a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt certification from ASQ.
For more on Lauren Kelly & The Clean Body Podcast:
We're used to reading ingredients on food forever. More recently in the last decade or two people are much more focused on looking at what's in cosmetics, just at the very beginning of being able to read ingredient labels on cleaning products. I think this is going to be an area that changes really quickly. I would love to be at a place as a society where you pick up a bottle of cleaner, you glance through ingredients and you know what all those ingredients mean. We're, we're not there yet. Welcome to the clean body podcast. I'm Lauren Kelly, a certified nutrition therapist, and soon to be specialized holistic cancer coach with a certification in cancer biology from UC Berkeley. I am so grateful that you're here. This podcast introduces you to the souls and brains behind some of the cleanest food beverage and lifestyle products on the market, because what you put on in and around your body matters from cookies, bread, and mushroom superfoods to adaptogenic hinges, clean medicines, organic mattresses, and fluoride-free toothpaste. We'll explore how the brands came to be how scientific studies drove decisions about ingredients and materials. And most importantly, how the products support all the physical and mental microscopic miracles that occur in your body every minute of every day. Thank you for being here. Let's get this started. Hello everyone. Welcome back to the clean body podcast. I'm your host, Lauren Kelly. Thanks so much for being here today. We are taking a little break from talking about food and we are talking about some products that you can probably find under your sink or in your laundry room right now at this very moment. And we've talked about some of these topics before in episode six, with Jupiter episode nine, with him virus scent. But today we're digging deeper into cleaning products and laundry detergents and the synthetic fragrances and chemical toxins that can be found in them that are causing cancer, birth defects, central nervous system disorders and allergic reactions. During the episode, we're going to explain this so much more, but just the term fragrances on a product can include thousands of ingredients that don't have to be disclosed to consumers, that's you and me. And we inhale them, or we absorb them through our skin and they get into our bloodstream. And those fragrances can contain carcinogens, which or spirits wary irritants, neurotoxins, which impact our brain health and our cognitive function, environmental toxins, and so much more on top of that. The biggest problem is that they can be also endocrine disruptors, meaning that they impact and throw off our natural hormonal health and they can increase risk of weight gain and other diseases down the line. These toxic ingredients can still be found in tons of products that we use. And we breathe in almost every single day. And some of the worst are found in laundry detergents and cleaning supplies. That's why in today's episode, I'm speaking with Kate Jacobus of meliore cleaning products, a Chicago based manufacturer of people and planet friendly household cleaners. Kate is an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at the Stewart school of business and earned her BS in material science and engineering from the university of Illinois, as well as her master's in environmental engineering from the Illinois Institute of technology. She shares so much information in addition to discussing harmful ingredients that are found in popular cleaning products. Today, we also discuss misconceptions about non-toxic cleaning products and how your health may be compromised due to daily exposure to toxins and fragrances plus so much more. If you like this episode, please be sure to rate, review, subscribe, share it with a friend I've been using Meli or cleaning products for a while. I have the all purpose cleaning spray as well as the laundry detergent. And I really love it so far. So if you listen to this and you do give it a try, let me know what your review is. Send me a DM or just learn more. I following the at holistic Lauren Kelly on Instagram, quick little mention, Kate is doing the interview from the, or a factory. So you can hear some of the work happening in the background, especially near the end, but it shouldn't impact your listening experience too much. Okay. Let's hop into this episode, Kate, welcome to the clean body podcast. This has been a long time coming interview. How are you? I'm so excited to be here. I am excited to have you. We have not talked to any cleaning products. Um, just yet we talked to an air freshener company, um, but not about clean cleaning products, which is a massive topic. So, and vitally important to our health and achieving optimal health. So I'm really excited to dig into Meli Yara, and just hear all your wisdom because you have such an interesting background, but before we get into all of that, I would just love to hear about your journey and your story with health and wellness and getting you to where you are today. Terrific. Yeah. Um, I mean my health and wellness journey is always evolving, I think like everybody. Um, and I think, you know, I've been very lucky. I've been very fortunate in my life to have had a lot of good health and, you know, like kind of starting off on the wrong, uh, on the right foot, you know, like I haven't had any major health issues. Um, a lot of my journey into health actually comes from the environmental side because, uh, as I was growing up, I always considered myself to be very environmentally conscious, um, and only, uh, to realize how closely that was tied to human health. Um, later after I'd gone through some of my studies and, um, was really looking at impact on the environment and how closely, you know, I feel like I was like almost worried about more about fish health than I was about human health for a long time, but how closely connected we really all are and in how it's really hard to separate, you know, taking care of the planet and the earth and the aquatic environment and taking care of ourselves and our own bodies. So that's, that's really how I came into. It was from the environmental angle. Well, you are an environmental engineer or at least that's what your background is in. What exactly is that? What, what does that mean? Tell us all about it. Yeah. So as I mentioned, I kind of, I I've always been what I consider myself to have always been an environmentalist. I always cared about the planet and all of the life and different, uh, aspects of, of our environment and what I realized, you know, growing up all that, that really meant to me, I guess, if you would've really asked me or pressed me for details, I would say like, oh, well I recycle and I, you know, try and be careful. And I didn't really think super deeply about it. Uh, you know, I pick up litter and I, you know, put things in the recycling bin, but after I started working after I studied material science, so in engineering, I always always been on the technical side. So, um, when I was working in my first job, one of my technical projects was to work on the reduction of lead in plumbing faucets. So this is a very technical angle in my mind, like, you know, engineering was a very separate activity from the environment, but digging into this detail about, Hey, you know, faucets are something that drinking water comes out of it, Hey, if there's lead in those faucets, we can put light in our drinking water and that can have a pretty detrimental effect. And so I threw out that project, you know, I w I was the technical person I had to try and figure out, you know, what can we use instead of led, or instead of let it brass, like what other materials can can be used. And that was really fun for me because I, I love talking about materials and metals, and I really started realizing, oh my gosh, like me just putting something in the recycling bin. That's not really all there is to it when we were talking about the environment. And so I was really inspired to dig a lot deeper. And so I went back to school for environmental engineering and that, um, say that again. I cannot really, I went back to school for environmental engineering. I ended up getting my master's in environmental engineering, and it was really to study all those details. Like, what does it mean to have led in a faucet? And what happens if that lead goes into water? What happens if there's other pollutants that are either accidentally or on purpose in, you know, in our air, in our water, what happens to them? So that's really what I wanted to do and wanted to learn about was what does it mean from a technical perspective to be aware of the environment and what can we do as consumers, as people, the way that the jobs with an impact it's businesses in order to have the most positive influence on the environment. Uh, and so that's why I went back to get my environmental engineering degree, what it means practically that I actually worked with a lot of civil engineers. So my concentration or my focus was on wastewater management. So what I learned during school was basically how to set up, uh, a treatment plant where you, you know, raw sewage comes in and clean water comes out, um, or conversely, uh, water from a lake or something, uh, and how to turn that into drinking water. So that that's really what I learned and what I would have been qualified to do, um, in practice. But instead I launched a business. Well, a business that we are very grateful for, or at least I am. I've been using the products for the last six weeks. And they are definitely one of the best cleaning and laundry detergent products that I've used in more of a natural, um, variety, um, because they, they are out there, but they are not all created equal, but I would love for you to share some of the most surprising things you've learned in your journey, being an environmental engineer, and as well as starting your own company in terms of the impacts that certain chemicals have, not only on our planet, but also on. A, our human health. Yeah. I think one of the most surprising things was just how simple products can be and still be effective and safe. Um, I think there's, we have this mindset that if something isn't Laden with a lot of chemicals, it must not clean well. And certainly there, you know, there, there are brands of all kinds that don't clean well. Um, but just the fact that something has a negative environmental impact, it doesn't really indicate whether or not a clean, well, a lot of times it might indicate how, how inexpensive it is to produce and how profitable it might be for the companies that produce it. Um, but yeah, just, just having a negative environmental impact doesn't mean it won't be, so that's a big misconception. And I think it takes a lot of people some time to find the products that do work for them. Um, because we totally think like, oh, this is gentle on the environment. So there's no way it's going to get my stains out. Um, and by really looking at the science and the chemistry of the materials we use, I think we really have been able to crack that, that, you know, we don't launch a product unless we know it will clean. Do you won't, you won't see every type of product, you know, on our site because, you know, we haven't cracked the code on automatic dish detergent yet. So I don't want to make a product that somebody puts it in their dishwasher. And then they say, well, that was a waste of time because all my dishes are still dirty. Um, and so unfortunately with so many products out there that sometimes do do that, I think that is one reason that natural products tend to get a little bit of a reputation for not working. Um, but there are definitely products that we have that we hear constantly, you know, this works better than conventional, uh, you know, our all purpose cleaner people tell us all the time, like, I, I resisted this because it seems too good to be true that it could be natural and Greenwell, but it cleans so well. You hear that a lot. My husband and I are polar opposites, and we have been in an all out war for years about cleaning products, because he's always like, no, it cover the smell or it doesn't make my clothes smell good, or it doesn't actually make the dishes clean or what have you. And I'm like, yes, but now we're eating, you know, off of plates that have chemicals on them or putting clothes on our back that have chemicals on them or inhaling this synthetic fragrances that are creating a toxic environment in our body. I always say, um, synthetic fragrances are like the new secondhand smoke. Like they're terrible for you. And they completely impact hormonal balances and all kinds of health functions that go on in our body that we don't often think about. We don't. And one of the most toxic areas in people's homes is the laundry room. If you think about conventional fabric softeners, the strong synthetic fragrance that's needed. I think, I mean, just think about the amount the concentration of chemicals required to put either a liquid or a sheet or something in your dryer to deposit the synthetic fragrances under your clothes in such an amount that you walk around for weeks, and you can smell them, like, just think about the burden of that and how, how much needs to be there. Um, and the fact that, you know, that scent is there and, but the way that sense worker, their, their volatile or organic chemicals, they're being a That's where that comes from. Um, and so, yeah, that, you know, indoor air quality is often worse than outdoor air, and that's because of some of the ingredients and some can use throughout the day and certainly some better fragrances and laundry, uh, particularly, yeah, either, either detergent or fabric softener is a huge problem. Can we get a bit more specific about that? Because I think a lot of people don't realize that what they use to clean their clothes impacts them when it's on their back until they might have an allergic reaction, like their children starts having a skin rash or, you know, something to that level. They don't fully think about like, oh, the district budget I'm using to clean that shirt is going to also be on my back and is going to impact my skin and potentially be absorbed into my body. So could you dig into that a little bit more from your background? Yeah. I mean, so, yeah, certainly anything that you're intentionally adding to your clothes, the ultimate thing that you want to have happen is when you pull those clothes out of the dryer, or you take them off the drawing line, you don't want anything on those clothes. You don't want, you know, a film on it. Um, because not only can that film transfer to your skin, but you know, if you've got performance, athletic gear, like you're not going to cover up like all that, you know, all those properties of that material with some film of, of, of fragrance and, and kind of sticky, uh, chemicals. And yeah, I think the thing to keep in mind is we're so used to thinking, like it has to smell like something, but if we kind of start to remind ourselves, like when it means there's something on there. Um, like it doesn't just smell for no reason. There are, you know, there are substances in that fabric that are designed to stick to fabric. Um, and those substances are very persistent. Um, and they can hang around for a long time. I think, you know, if I'm going to talk about just a recommendation or I think succinctly kind of wraps it up, a friend of mine had a baby a few years ago and, uh, she came to me and she said, you know, we have, we have this detergent that, you know, they, they recommended we use with babies and she's like, wait, you know, your detergent is also recommended for babies. Yeah. And just to check in with me, I'm like, and of course I told her, yes, we've had several third parties look at our ingredients and recommend us for you. So babies, she said, well, thank goodness, because she didn't want this. Like, I dunno, whatever the baby detergent was, it had a smell. She didn't like, which again is its own thing. We should worry about the smell. And our baby detergent shouldn't use scented, baby detergent. Um, but her, her midwife had actually recommended you should wash the whole family's clothes in baby safe detergent because your clothes, not only do they touch you, but you're touching the baby, like, like, like that recommendation, like, think about what's on your clothes, because it does transfer. If you're holding a very small human, that can be very sensitive and really soak in a lot of what's around them. I just thought that that recommendation really kind of put everything in a nutshell, like, you know, when you have a baby wash, everything, wash the whole family's clothes in safe detergent, um, to really, you know, lessen that burden for the smallest members of your house. Yeah, absolutely. It's something I hadn't even thought about, but that makes complete sense. And I was even, I don't have kids, but I have dogs and one of my dogs has insane allergies and I'm like, huh, that's such an interesting like bedsheets or, you know, whatever. Like what are you cleaning their dog beds in? Yeah. Yeah. That's one of the first things they'll ask you. If you go to a dermatologist, Hey, I've got this rash or whatever. Like maybe the first, if not the first three questions, have you changed your detergent? What are you using to wash your clothes? Because that's next to your skin all day. Um, and obviously, you know, any skin issues are going to be one of the first indications that there's something on your post that you want to get out of there. Um, but you know, once you've got a skin issue, again, that's an indication it's next to your skin all day. Um, what are you really putting on your clothes? What do you want to be next to you close to your body all day long? Yeah. I want to dig more into the science, but before we get there, I'm just really curious because your bio on the website says you have a six Sigma black belt certification, and I want to know what that is. Yeah. So six Sigma black belt. Um, so the black belt implies like expert status and it's not, it's not in martial arts. Um, so I I'm, I'm not, I can't take you down, you know, if we met in a boxing ring or anything. So yes, it's, um, it's a lean six. Sigma is, is the, the general, um, discipline, but that I have a black belt in, and basically it's a set of tools and it's a way to approach problem solving. Uh, and it's about, um, optimizing reducing waste and, um, really kind of increasing the quality of any process or material. So it's, um, it's kind of a set of different tools or best practices that you can use developed at really big companies, places like Toyota, Motorola, um, that developed all of these ways and originally was How do we, you know, make more product with less costs typically, uh, we use it to make more product with less impact on the environment and less waste overall. Um, but we can use it also just to optimize all of our business processes and deliver better products more quickly. So some of the tools we use are, um, optimizing recipe development, we're able to make product and develop product faster using some of these tools. Um, and again, they were all adapted from, you know, a lot of really experienced industry. Uh, and we were able to take that into our really small company and make it super efficient and, and be able to launch really high quality products using these tools. That's really interesting. That's very cool. And I know when you are creating your new products, you are taking, obviously with your background, a lot of science into the decision-making, um, and you even have a lot of information on your website around scientific studies that have been done in this area. So for example, you recently called out like women's voices for Earth's harmful ingredients in cleaning products. Um, and so is there anything from like those recent studies that have been done that you feel are worth calling out? I know we already talked about fragrances and why they're problematic, but there was even stuff in there around like cleaning products, impacting reproductive health, um, especially in women. So is there anything you feel like consumers need to know from that area of science? Yeah. And one thing that I really love about, you know, coming from a scientific background, it's very interesting to be an overlap between science and the natural product space, because a lot of people think that they're in conflict and that's just not true. Um, so, you know, I bring a very scientific approach. Um, I have, you know, a couple of engineering degrees, our is all very science focused. Um, and we love talking about specifics. So a lot of times, you know, if you go onto a blog or you just hear people talking, they'll talk about like toxins and they just use sort of this very catch all term and you immediately kind of want to say like, well, is, are you just referring very broadly? Or like, what actually do you mean as a toxin? And what specific ingredients do you think I should avoid and why? So, yeah, you already, you already mentioned you're being very specific, right? Like what are the endocrine disruptors I need to be worried about? Um, are there carcinogens and, you know, those are, you know, we can get more and more specific. So the women's voices for the earth is a nonprofit that we work with. Um, and they used, um, the ability to look further into cleaning product ingredients, which is a new thing. Um, if we back up just second, um, as of a few years ago, there was no requirement to even disclose the ingredients in cleaning products. So if we're worried about the ingredients in cleaning products, but you pick up a jug of laundry detergent and there's no ingredient list there, how do you even begin to understand what, what ingredients and what products are safe and what ingredients and what products are not safe. Um, and so, uh, as of, uh, recently January, um, the laws have some new laws have come into effect that do require disclosure of more ingredients. Um, so it's been fascinating to see some companies that have been saying for years, you know, don't worry, we use all safe ingredients, don't worry. We have a screening process to avoid, you know, um, harmful chemicals. Don't worry. Uh, we, we keep our ingredient list to secret because it's, you know, it's for our intellectual property. We don't, you know, we don't want to tell you, right. Yes, very proprietary. And when I hear that argument, I hear like, if, if I told you what was in this laundry detergent, you wouldn't buy it. That's the only logic I can draw from that because you, it's not proprietary. I can, I can pay for a chemical analysis on, on, you know, some products to find out what's in there. Um, so that argument is bending debunked. Um, so when we finally start to see companies voluntary, voluntarily disclosing the ingredients they're using, there are two things that happen. One is that like magically, they decide to change some of the ingredients they're using. So all you have to do is force people to disclose sometimes. Um, and that's why actually some of these laws will just be called name and shame laws because there's no requirement that you change anything. But if I require that you tell people what you're doing, it makes you think twice about some of the things that you're doing. So a lot of companies have actually changed their to name their ingredients. Um, and the second thing is that we have much more information to workforce. So then we can have trusted NGOs, trusted companies and groups like women's voices for the earth published reports, like there a recent one that talked about some specific ingredients. And, uh, some of the things that, that were, again, very specific, it was looking at things like the lacks, a line, um, really high concern, chemical, um, that in fact, SC Johnson, as a company years ago, had already committed to phasing out it. They acknowledged that it was a concern. They said they were going to phase it out. And then even as of this year, it's still in some of the products that they make. Um, so that's certainly gives you some opportunity to say, you know, why are you still using this chemical as a company? You acknowledge that, you know, it's, it's a problem. You don't put it in the formulas that you sell in Europe. Why are you still using it in the formulas that you sell in the U S um, so, you know, we're still at the beginning of this conversation, but having more information available really gives us a lot more room to, to point to specifics instead of saying, oh, we're worried about chemicals. Everything's a chemical, there's safer chemicals. There's, there's more harmful chemicals, uh, in, in talking about, you know, exactly which ones we mean can be really useful in this conversation. And I think, uh, that evolving conversation, being able to point to specific chemicals used in specific products is really important. Right. And I definitely want to dig into that in terms of, in terms of like, what toxins do we need to be looking out for? And I don't know if you even have information on this, but I recently had someone tell me, um, which I'm not surprised, but I had never really thought about it. That not all heavy metals are bad. Like we even organic food, like soil has heavy metals in it. And so we need some heavy metals in, you know, our dietary consumption or not all are dangerous. So like, I don't know, where do you draw that line? It's really confusing for a consumer because I, for one would say that I am pretty darn close to being an expert in reading labels and understanding labels, except cleaning supplies is the next level. Like, it's even hard for me to like, make this more accessible, to understand what toxins are good and bad, what we talk about them, as you said, but like, maybe I guess if you can help us, the listeners understand that, you know, a 60 minute interview, that would be. Terrific. Yeah. And I, I think you're, you're a hundred percent. Right. And, you know, you mentioned, you know, a lot of people are used to the fact that when you think about the food that we eat, we think about, Hey, what am I putting in my body? I should read the ingredient list on this package, on this package. I want to, I want to eat whole foods. Right. You grab a vegetable instead of some, some processed food because you know, you know exactly what's in there. Um, and I think we are starting to expand that conversation to more and more products. Um, and there's a phrase like kind of that we use it's in, on and around. So like, people tend to worry about first about what's going in their bodies, what am I eating? What am I drinking? Um, and then you kind of think like, well, what's going on in my body. What's this lotion that I'm slathering myself in every day. Like, what's, it meant, do I need to be worried about that? Am I wasting safe makeup? Um, and then it's around and that tends to be cleaning products, right? What am I spraying in my home and stuff ending up in my lungs? What am I using to clean my floor? Because you know what, like my dog's like in the floor. Um, so that around conversation is very interesting. And in a lot of ways, it's, um, a few years behind, like maybe 10, 15 years behind industries, like the natural cosmetics industry, you know, we've been worried and worried. We're used to reading ingredients on true forever. You know, um, more recently in the last decade or two people are much more focused on looking at what's in cosmetics, uh, where you're used to reading ingredient labels on cosmetics. And we are just, just at the very beginning of being able to read ingredient labels on cleaning products. Um, so I think this is going to be an area that changes really quickly. I think, you know, if you're listening to this podcast and you're like, I'm hoping that there'll be even more movement and more information out there. And, you know, I would love to be at a, at, at a place as a society where you pick up a bottle of cleaner and you, you glance through ingredients and you know, what all those ingredients meet we're, we're not there yet. Um, but having those ingredient labels in places is the first step. And I'm really excited about that stuff. Um, it does mean that, you know, we can work with trusted third parties, whether that's women's voices, a lot of people like women, uh, the environmental working group as a, as a trusted source for what is this ingredient? What does it mean? Do I consider it safe or not? Um, and I think we all have to find a balance between how cautious do we want to be. Um, and, you know, choosing ingredients, according to the precautionary principle, which is a little bit more, the way I lean, which is like, if I don't know what this is, like, how, how do I know it's safe? So I would rather not use it. Um, and, um, being, um, overly kind of loose like, oh, I guess I'll just use anything because if it's on the market, it must be safe. Which I think, you know, that's another thing we're kind of starting to see like, well, just because somebody is making it, there's really, you know, especially in cleaning products, there's really not a lot of oversight and regulation about what can go in things. So, so just because it's on a store shelf doesn't mean that it's safe, especially for you. Maybe you have allergies, um, maybe you have maybe one to avoid animal ingredients. So, you know, whatever your preferences are, whether they're health based, whether they are religion based, whether they're morality based having that information is just the first step. So we're starting to see in the cleaning industry, that information trickle in and we'll see what we do with it. Yeah. Well, okay. So I'm going to make you call it a couple of chemicals that you would say are no-nos if you saw them on products. Um, I honestly, number one is fragrance for me and, and there's a couple of reasons for that. One is, it's just, it's like an indicator to me, it's a red flag. If a company is willing to put a undisclosed fragrance in their product, it probably indicates that they aren't, they don't have a robust screening process and they don't have a robust ingredient declaration process. So, um, just the word fragrance, it can can mean thousands of different chemicals. So when I see that it's an easy word to remember. You don't have to, you know, like one, four dioxane or is it D dioxin? Is it decent? You know, so, so a lot of these are chemical terms we're not used to seeing, but the word fragrance that's, that's an immediate red flag for me in cleaning products. So that, that's definitely one that I would avoid, um, on top of, you know, the, the fragrance ingredients also being harmful and having already talked about, especially with things like dryer sheets. Yeah. I would, I would avoid that. That is a big one. We have a whole episode around fragrances and the fact that they can to like thousands of chemicals and you just don't know what it is. But yeah. It really is. I want to talk about some of the ingredients that I know you have in your products and what they are. So, like we said, not all toxins words that you don't know at this point in your education journey are good or bad. So two, then you have our sodium bicarbonate and sodium carbonate. So what are those and how do they differ from one another? Yeah. Um, so sodium by carbonate is, uh, the sort of the chemical or the scientific word for baking soda. So baking soda is an ingredient that you likely have in your, in your kitchen cabinet for, for, um, baking. You might even already use it sometimes as a cleaner. I know a lot of people will use it as like a, like a scrub it's scrubbed down your sinker, um, baking soda in a lot of ways around their house. It's, it's also an, an odor neutralizer. So a lot of people will put some baking soda in a container and put it in their fridge to absorb odors. Um, so it serves a lot of those functions in our product as well, helps absorb, um, odors, um, and, uh, helps kind of boost the laundry, um, in our laundry products. So that, that's one of the main ingredients that we use in our, our laundry powder. Um, it's very similar. So sodium bicarbonate is that, is that term. And then the second one you mentioned is sodium carbonate. So sodium bicarbonate, sodium carbonate, chemically speaking, they're very, very similar. I call them chemical cousins because they have basically the same, um, molecular components arranged in a little bit of a different way. Um, and the sodium carbonate is also known as washing soda. So this is really well known as a laundry booster. Cause sometimes you'll actually see just sodium carbonate or just washing soda sold in the store. It's usually in like a yellow box or sometimes a white box that says, you know, laundry booster can add it to your laundry. And, uh, it does a couple of things, but the main thing that it does is it raises the pH of the water, um, and a higher pH, uh, creates a more alkaline environment, which is generally better for cleaning. So that's one of its main functions. It also, um, can act, uh, to tie up some of the, um, metal ions, like magnesium, calcium, um, that can contribute to hard water. Um, and by tying up those ingredients, it actually helps the soap or the cleaning ingredient in the laundry do its job better. So that's why a lot of people refer to it as a booster because it sort of like distracts the distract, some of the ions in the water so that the cleaning agent can, can get in there and do its job. So works really well as a booster. Um, again, they're really similar. They're actually both minerals that are mined here in the USA. So they have a really local and sustainable supply chain. We have thousands of years of use worth of these chemicals, um, in Toronto or in the, in the green river basin in Wyoming. So we are not at risk of, of running out. Um, it's not going to in, in our lifetimes, we're not going to see a war fought about, you know, um, access to these minerals. Um, and so using them, um, is, is, you know, they, they come right out of the ground, um, and we put them into our laundry powder in order to, to make them clean better. I mean, I know sustainability is a massive part of my Lauria and we'll definitely get there, but you mentioned hard water, um, for our listeners. Can you kind of explain from, since you have such a background in speaking about especially water, can you kind of talk to what hard water is and what people should know about it? Yeah. Um, so hard water refers to, um, water that has a higher percentage of, um, dissolved chemicals in it. And usually it's dissolved minerals and calcium and magnesium are the big ones. So what that results in is that you will often see, um, either soap, scum or scale, or both in your washing machine, in your water heater, um, if you've got hard water. So, um, it can be depending on where you are in the country or in the world, you have, um, water that can have more or less of these dissolved minerals in them. They're, they're not dangerous at calcium, right? Like, you know, that that's a really common, um, mineral a week, it's in our bones, it's an eggshells. So these are, um, pretty overall, like from a toxicity standpoint, very harmless, but they do affect how the water behaves. So what you'll often notice is that, um, uh, I know we do a lot of body products, so like shampoos and conditioners is where you often notice a lot of difference between hard and soft water. If you take your regular shampoo and conditioner that you absolutely love, and then you traveled to a different part of the country and you get in, you know, you get in your rental and you go in the shower and then you like lather up. Sometimes you're just like, what is this? Because the products can behave so differently in So you'll actually see a difference in how principal, how easily rinsed off and even on your skin, just like washing your hands, washing your body with. So, um, how sort of clean you feel, how, how quickly it gets rinsed off can be a function of how, how hard or soft the water is. Um, hard water can also just cause more problems than plumbing system. Cause it will dissolve like, uh, you'll get like it's called a mineral scale. Um, or you'll see more like on the shower head, you might see that like white buildup that'll happen faster if you've got hard water. Um, so, uh, all, you know, that's, that's just a quick primer on, on her water there. You can get water softeners to try and pull some of those ions out. Um, and there's all sorts of ways that we kind of work to combat it because generally speaking, we want water to be relatively soft. It just works better. It works better for cleaning it, it tastes better for drinking. Um, and, uh, it, uh, messes with your shower heads last and messes with your washing machine and your water heater lasts when you don't have those extra minerals in there, like dissolving, resolving, sticking to the walls and kind of jamming things up. Yeah. I mean, personally speaking, I am pretty crazy when it comes to water. So like all my water in the house has reverse osmosis system going. Um, my showers all have filters on them. Um, but so this is so strange and I don't know the science behind this, but I was experiencing really, really, really dry skin, like painful, dry skin. And when my filter on my shower head, you know, was needed to be replaced, it was done for, and I noticed that my skin wasn't as dry in between me replacing the filter, but my water was definitely a lot harder. Is there any reason or explanation for that or maybe it was just something completely different that was making my skin better. So you're saying you usually use a filter when the filter wasn't working properly and you had dry skin? No, I had. Dryer skin the other way when my filter was working, I had really dry skin. And then I wonder it could have just been something I changed. Like maybe I started using a different lotion or something like that, but there was a correlation between my father and me changing it. Yeah. I have to think about that. I don't know that I've heard of that before. Interesting. I know. Yeah. There's so many things that contribute to all of these, you know, it just feels like it's so much to think about like, do you, yeah. Do you have a shower filter? Do you have a whole house filter? How do you, you know, how do you look at that? Do you just use tap water? Because in a lot of places it's, it's works fine. Um, or yeah, depending what you need for drinking, washing, showering, all that. I'm a little paranoid. So I definitely filter all my water and then I have trace minerals where I add them back into my water. Because it affects the taste. Yeah, for sure. Yeah. Taste, I mean, you know, mint water, um, spring water is the best water you can have because it has those electrolytes and minerals that we need so much. And if you work out a lot or you do hot yoga or whatever, you're using using those at a faster rate, so you need to replenish them. So, you know, I think it's great when people are filtering their water, but it's also important to make sure you're getting those minerals elsewhere if you need. Them. Correct. Um, so I know you also have glycerin in your products. Can you explain what glycerin is and how that impacts or benefits the body? Yeah, so, uh, glycerin is actually, um, a chemical compound. That's in the oil we use and, uh, there's not actually oil or a significant amount of oil in our finished product, but we do use oil to make our soap. So making soap is a really pretty straightforward process. If you've ever seen the movie fight club, you're kind of familiar with it, but basically what you need to do is you need to take an oil or a fat and react it with a certain chemical it's a caustic chemical. Um, and at the end of that reaction, what happens is you pull apart all the little oil molecules. Um, and I think since we've got some video, we're going to be on time here. I can do my little, uh, representation. So we're, we're familiar probably with the term triglyceride, right? So like refers to the chemical compounds that make up a lot of that. Uh, the fats and oils that we're used to. So triglyceride the first to try. So there's these three fatty acids and then there's a glycerol backbone. So my other finger here represents the glycerol backbone oil, or a fat with a, with a cost of chemical, like sodium hydroxide. Um, then the molecules actually pull apart. So this little glycerol floats off by itself. And then these three fatty acids actually re combine with the sodium or the potassium in the caustic to create a new molecule. So we get three to different little soap molecules, and that soap is what does the cleaning. We talk about how it works in a second. So we get three little soap molecules in and the glycerol just hangs out. Um, so it was naturally occurring as part of the oil. Um, and then it remains in the finished product. Uh, some companies will actually remove the glycerin, um, because it's really highly valued. It's a, it's a humectant. You can see it a lot of times in cosmetic products, it can help draw and retain moisture in the skin. It can in a cleaning product, it can actually act as a solvent, which dissolves dirts and oils, um, and kind of pulls them into solution. So, um, we leave it in our products. Uh it's again, it's naturally occurring as part of the process of making it. We could also remove it. Uh, we currently just choose not to it's a little bit easier and faster in our process to leave it in there. So that's the function of the glycerin and what it does. It does act a little bit as a solvent, but mostly it just kinda hangs out because it was fair when we made it. What would you say people need to know about soaps? You know, that's another very big industry right now where a lot of people are going natural. Some people are just saying they're going natural and still using harmful fragrances and their soaps. But what do you think are some main things people should know when they're picking out body soaps or, um, the liquids? Yeah. Um, I think, I think people should know that soap actually does have a technical and a legal definition. Um, and it's not always what we think of. Sometimes we think of like a dove body bar is a classic example. So yeah. So soap itself, the technical definition is the sodium salt of the fatty acid. Um, that's, that's the chemical definition of it. And it literally means what I just demonstrated. It means that he's reacted and fatty acid, uh, to create a new molecule. So we've got a little molecule of, of sodium and it attaches to a triglyceride, uh, or, or part of a part of a triglyceride. Um, so for example, sodium co-create is the chemical name of that soap that's made from coconut oil. So the sodium and then the cocoa eight. Um, so you'll sometimes see on labels of soaps, things like sodium sodium, sunflower eight, which comes from sunflower oil. Do you try to see these different names for soak that depend on what fatty acids they're main from? Um, it's actually really cool. They think about how soap works like, um, on a chemical level, because the cool property of soap is that it is attracted to both water and oil. Um, and that's literally how it works to clean. So, you know, we're kind of used to, you know, what it means to have something like be water loving or, uh, hydrophilic, like put some salt or some sugar in a glass of water and it'll dissolve, right. And that's, that's because all the sugar is all hydrophilic. Um, and so is partially hydrophilic. So it's got one side of the molecule that loves being in water, so it would dissolve easily, but, um, there's another property called hydrophobic. Um, and that's basically like an oil, right? So that those kinds of molecules do not want to pull into the water. And so they'll, you look at salad dressing and separates or something like that. Like the oil will separate from the water. The cool thing about soap is it's got one half of the molecule that loves the water and the other half of the molecule loves the oil or the dirt. Um, and so that's why it works so well, just Rob a bar of soap on your hands. It grabs onto those dirts and oils, or if you're using soap and laundry, you know, grabs onto the dirt and oils, but it also keeps hanging onto that water and it washes away. Um, and so that's how it cleans. That's how your hands get clean. All the hand-washing we've done for the past 18 months. And that's how we're taking stuff off of our hands is that the soft soap molecules grab on to the dirt and oils and literally wash them white, pull them into the water. Bad. Would you say that conventional soaps are for us? So like, you know, again, I'm a little bit of a paranoid person and I go to the airport often to travel and that's soap in planes makes my hands so dry. And so like coarse and terrible. I get a headache from it. I like, so I think it depends on the person. And for me personally, I do like I have to bring my own soap to the bathroom on the airplane because otherwise, however long I've got left on that flight, like I hope it's not an international site because I have a headache until I get to wherever I'm going. Um, so a lot of times it's in those ingredients, I think we talked about fragrance, like very common too, you know, that it's not necessarily the soap itself that is causing the issue in those cases. Um, but some of the added ingredients sometimes, um, very active antimicrobial agents are added, um, that can kill the, you know, some of the microbiome, um, or, you know, additional ingredients. And again, like you, you wash your hands when you're finished washing your hands. Like if you can like smell your hands an hour later, like there's something that was deposited on there. Like you kind of just want that clean smell. Um, um, but yeah, the, the ingredients themselves, it varies. So if you look at ingredients like SLS or SLES, sodium, lauryl, sulfate, um, they, uh, it's not, again, it's not always necessarily the ingredients themselves, Um, don't have a huge track record of themselves being harmful, but the byproducts that are created during the chemical manufacturer of those products can cause a problem. Um, so for example, when you manufacture SLS, you create as a byproduct, a chemical called one for dioxin, and one for dioxine is a, uh, suspected carcinogen. It's actually listed by the state of California, um, as a prop 65 ingredient. It, um, it, but it's not intentionally added. So if you look at the ingredient list of a product, you're not going to see that on there because it's a by-product of the manufacturing process. So it can be really sneaky because, you know, although it's great that we are continuing to learn more and more about the ingredients we're using. Um, there's some of these layers there that like, okay, you know, maybe the ingredient itself, you know, maybe find on its own, but how much of this one, four dioxane by-product is in it, do they, does this company have a really robust testing process or a really robust manufacturing process that takes out this ingredient? Or is it still in there? And in fact, in 2012, um, there was a lawsuit brought against Procter and gamble because in the manufacturing of tide free and clear, uh, laundry detergent, marketing marketed as free and clear, super safe laundry detergent, they were not removing enough one, four dioxane. So they were leaving that in the laundry detergent, um, this, this ingredient that was known to be an issue. Um, and so there was actually a lawsuit brought together of this ingredient out. And again, not something you'd ever see on a label, just a by-product of, of the manufacturing process. That can be a problem. Oh, labels, then a label. It's so difficult. I even just blasted a brand on Instagram because they were marketing these fruit snacks to parents. They're full of vitamin a and D and E and K. And the first ingredient was corn syrup. And the second ingredient was sugar and they had artificial coloring and artificial flavors. And it's just, it's so irresponsible in my opinion of brands to be doing this false marketing, um, just for money. Um, but unfortunately that is what happens. So if you, with your expertise were to draw some boundaries for like a friend or family member who was like, what do I use? How do I know if I'm using what I'm using is good? What are some of those hacks you would tell them? I like to think of it kind of as a journey, more than a, what you're doing is bad. Here's what's good. Um, so I really encourage in, this is the cool opportunity that we have with this category. That's called consumer products, because it's stuff that you use up. You don't have to make a decision today about what laundry and cleaning products you will use for the next 30 years. You can make a decision for a month or six months because you only need to buy what you need today. So, you know what, if today, you, you listen to this podcast and you go in your laundry room and you're like, oh my God, I've got a bottle of Downey. I've got tide, regular. Like, like that's what it is. That's a start. Right? And like, so the next time you need to buy new product, make a better decision, like do a little bit of research by something you're a little bit comfortable, uh, doing, you know, whether that's going to, maybe you're in full conventional mode and you're ready to do the free and clear just taking the fragrances and dyes, huge, huge step, like fragrances and dyes, big problem. So like, even if you're using conventional detergent, it's a free and clear version. Right. Good stuff. All right. Then the next time, you know, the next time you run onto something, make a better choice. Um, and so I really think about all the brands that exist on a spectrum. Um, and now Euro is pretty far on one end of the spectrum. We like to think of ourselves as the destination. Um, so sustainability is a journey. We are trying to push as hard as we can on the end there and be that brand that people, when they're ready, as they, you know, decide to cut out, you know, decide to cut out, fragrances, decide to cut out single use plastic. They decided to cut out a lot of base ingredients. Preservatives am I, uh, things like that, that as they keep taking those steps, they will get closer and closer and Millie, or some people like to jump to the end because they heard a trusted friend say like, Hey, listen, like this company is legit. These ingredients are super safe and they're ready to make that jump all in one day. Um, but a lot of people aren't and like, I don't think it's worth beating yourself up about what you already had and they decisions made yesterday. There's just too much to think about. And the fact that you're trying to do better, like you shouldn't have to have to also feel bad about what you've done before. So, um, you know, the conventional products like And if you go to some products like method, I think that's, that's a step forward in the right direction. A after method, maybe you try something like seventh generation, that's even further. Maybe after seventh generation, you come to Niagara, that's a really normal sort of step process, but a lot of people take to get to get there. That's. A really great, great description. And that's what I say about, you know, your journey with food in the health and wellness realm as well. You know, if you can make little tiny steps this month, you are dedicated to not drinking diet Coke. And then the next month you're dedicated to, you know, buying more fresh foods or whatever it is. It's one step at a time and you can't create fear around it because that's just a whole host of other problems. And so it is just this lifelong journey and I'm always constantly learning new things and playing with my own body and my own health and wellness because we are all different and we all respond to things differently as well. So I think that's really great advice. I will say though, that my Laureus so affordable, I was honestly shocked. I was like, this is going to be super expensive. And the products last a lot longer than I thought it was like, I got the subscription and my, um, I get product more often than I probably need to. So I might need to slow down a little bit, but I couldn't. Or gift gifted away. I couldn't. Believe that like affordability of the product and something I always struggled with was the sustainability aspect of cleaning supplies and laundry detergents. Because every time you go, it's like another plastic bottle that there's no for that, you know, tide bottle again, you just have to throw it away. And there's very few places in the country where you can go refill bottles with laundry detergent or, or cleaning supplies. And so talk to me a little bit about how you are working to solve that problem on this sustainability. Yeah. Um, so yeah, and I think you really touched on something important sustainable. If it's not affordable, it's only your very richest friend can buy something. There's no way that that is ever gonna really help all of us. Um, and affordability and accessibility is something that we think about all the time, uh, at [inaudible] like we have a couple of things, you know, like we can tinker in the R and D lab. And sometimes the first pass is like, this is amazing. It costs a million dollars, you know? And, but like, we can't have an impact in a lot of what we look at as a company is how can we have a great impact? And we really don't don't believe that this should just be accessible to people with a lot of money. Um, and the, the cool news is that a lot of the things we do that make product more sustainable also makes it more price accessible. So for example, the things like our tablet, refills for our all purpose cleaner, uh, you know, it's a glass bottle that glass bottle is going to get reused. Um, it does have a plastic sprayer in that no single use plastic that sprayer is going to get reused again and again and again, so that, that single bottle is going to replace all, uh, it's all purpose. It's all of the cleaners that, that you're currently using, whether it's glass cleaner, countertop, hard surfaces, all that stuff. So already, you know, you're, you're looking at keeping one bottle in stock in your house instead of buying 10 different bottles at a time. So that's already an advantage. But then after that, you're not buying another bottle. You're buying a little box. That's about, you know, an inch by an inch by an inch. And that's another three bottles of cleaner. So by cutting down all of that packaging, it's much more, um, it's, it's much more cost-effective for us to manufacture in that format. And that means that we can make it a lot more cost-effective for you to buy. So it ends up being we're on par, you know, per bottle of cleaner we're on par with what's at Walmart. Um, so we compete with conventional, terrible price prized. By it. I was like, this is not a hard commitment to make whatsoever because it really is. Yeah. Affordable. Yeah. People feel like it has to be this big investment and it's, it's just not. Um, so we, we, we work really hard to make sure that those products are accessible. Even your laundry detergent comes in, like, is it a cardboard? Yeah. Cardboard. Canister. Yeah. A little bit kind of, it's kind of like an oatmeal canister, although we've actually designed a lot of times you see some plastic canisters, so we've designed that out. Um, but yeah, it comes in cardboard, um, and it's a, it's a powder. So that makes it a lot easier for us to avoid the plastic joke because we don't have a liquid that we need to figure out how to ship that. We use a lot of cardboard, a lot of paper, some sometimes steel, sometimes a little bit of glass, but keeping those as really sustainable shipping options, paper's one of the most sustainable materials and recycle it. You can compost it. We have S a S F wow, let me try that again. Our papers FSC certified. So from sustainable forests. Um, and so there's a lot of great things about using paper packaging, including how recyclable it is. I can even, you know, putting a bonfire, you know, that way. So, um, you're not going to, it's not going to hang around in the environment. Yeah. My laundry detergent, I don't know if they all are, but it's lavender. Yeah. They, we have a couple of different trends. We always created an unscented version because we love giving people the option. Totally fragrance-free but yeah, we do lavender and a couple of other others. I. Was surprised by how much I could smell the lavender. Like it was a very nice smell to have. So since you're not using synthetic figure and says, how are you guys creating a cell? Because often, you know, essential oils and things like that, you have to be careful with the quality of essential oil as well, but it fades very quickly. So how are you guys creating a smell that does last a little bit and is healthy for humans to have on them? Yeah, so, I mean, we, we're picky about our sourcing for essential oils that you smell in. Our products comes from a certified organic essential oil. Um, and we work with suppliers that provide testing, um, for their oils. So we can make sure that again, we know what ingredients are in there. Um, and that, it's just the chemical compounds that we're expecting to assign in that essential oil. Um, and yeah, then it's a matter of finding the right level of fan. No, we tell people like you are not going to walk around and smell the lavender all day. You're going to sell it in your laundry room. It's very subtle, but in a lot of ways, um, I used to call it a detox reset. So like once he stopped using synthetic fragrances, you are, you're not killing your nose every time we smell something and you can actually appreciate some of the nuance and the like literally, you know, assumption that comes from lavender flowers, you can smell that lavender. It's a very natural sentence, smells like a plant. Our lemon smells like a lemon. It doesn't smell like lemon pledge or something like that like that. So I think once we sort of, when we look at, you know, what are we breathing around our bodies? What are we eating in our bodies? We cut out some of the natural fats that are already there. Yeah, absolutely. I think everything you guys are doing over there for the brand wouldn't have planned, oh. No, we're still growing. We are a pretty small brand overall, but we've doubled or tripled in size every year since we started. And, you know, we're, we're, we're keeping on with that growth. So we are, uh, we have a couple of new products that, um, we will be, uh, introducing in the next couple of months. So we, we hope to have new stuff out. Um, but near the end of 20, 21 or early 20, 22, we're also redoing some of our packaging. So we are going for our laundry canisters. We're always improving kind of going back to that. I'm like, it's never good enough. There's always some improvement to make. Uh, one thing that we, that we wanted to do with our canisters was make it more easily recyclable. There's already no plastic in there, but we wanted it to be single material. So we're going transitioning to single material, paper, cardboard for the canisters to make it easier to recycle. So you'll start seeing those actually, we're making them in the factory now. So always product improvements that we're working on. And it's the new products as well. That's. Awesome. Well, to wrap this up, I have three quick hit questions for ya that we need to get to. So the first one is what does having a clean body mean. To you? I think to me, it means being aware and being comfortable with everything like the choices that you made, uh, with what you do with your body, whether that's eating, whether that's movement, um, whether that's, you know, what you breathe in and where, where you are. I like that. What are some lifestyle habits that you could not live without? As I said, I'm a giant water fiend. Like I just drink water. I'm one of the, in this, I will attribute to my husband because I would like ever so often be like, oh, I have a headache. And he would, every time I would complain about anything, he would tell me I was dehydrated. And I thought he was making it up. And now I drink a gallon of water every day and I'm like, I never get headaches. So anyway, I just, I just drank a ton of water. That's it? This book titled. Your not sick, you're thirsty. It is really fascinating. It's about this guy who became imprisoned during a war. He was a doctor. And I don't remember all the details cause I read this so long ago. So I, I don't remember if he was American or what he was, but he was imprisoned and he was directed to treat the other prisoners, but he had no access to medicines or antibiotics or anything. And so all the ailments, all he could prescribe was water. And he watched over a years. These people overcome certain conditions through hydration. So it's just a really crazy interesting book to read. Um, but last quick hit question for you. What are some other brands that you are loving on? You know, what brand I really love. It's called mighty Nash and they're an online store. So they have a lot of sub brands, but I love their curation. Like they are so careful about what brands they let into their site. And so anytime I'm not sure, like, oh, I need a sunscreen that I don't have time to. Like, I forgot which brand you want to try something new. I feel comfortable going there to do my shopping because I know the selection they have like all be comfortable with their screens. That's really cool. I have not heard of them. So I'll have to check them out. But how can listeners get in touch with you? Get in touch with the brand order, some products. Awesome. Yeah. So our website is Mel Euro means better.com and that's because that's what malware means. It's a Latin word and it means better. So yeah, if you want to check us out or go shopping online, Millie aura means better.com. We're on Facebook and Instagram or a clean product. Hi everyone. I hope you enjoyed that interview. As a reminder, this podcast is for educational purposes. Only. It is not a substitute for professional care from a doctor or otherwise qualified health professional. This podcast is provided on the understanding that medical or other health related services. If you're looking for help in your journey, seek out we'll see you next time.