In the growing movement to purchase local, sustainable products from companies who are increasingly transparent about what exactly is going into their products, this Chicago start-up is going above and beyond to provide the best household cleaning products that are all natural, effective, and planet-friendly. You can learn more about Meliora Cleaning products at the Chicago Market Info Session, next Thursday, August 23rd at The Lawrence House (1020 W. Lawrence). Chicago Market is a community-owned grocery store which will be located in the historic Gerber Building just off of the Wilson Red line station. They are in the stages of raising funds from owners in order to begin construction of the full service grocery store. Products like Meliora will be carried alongside locally grown produce, local meat, dairy, grains, and even local beer, wine, and distilled spirits.
CHICAGO MARKET INFO SESSION
Why did you choose household cleaning products as the thing you wanted to understand and make better not only for people but for the environment?
I wanted to learn what was in the world around us and learn what's better for yourself. The cosmetics industry is a good one to point to because a lot of people know that cosmetics are pretty under-regulated, there's a lot of things you can put in them that really aren't that healthy for you. There are a lot of great green cosmetics companies coming out now, but green or healthy cleaning ingredients are like a decade behind where cosmetics are now. You don't even have to list what ingredients you have in a cleaning product and there are basically no banned ingredients.
What is the importance of transparency with consumers of your products?
We wanted to be as transparent as we could about what we're using, how we chose those ingredients, and why we package it this way in order to have people make better decisions about what they're using in their homes. We fully disclose every ingredient we use, and even give tours of our factories.
What if someone wanted to replicate your product at home?
People who are do-it-yourselfers, we encourage that, we will give them our recipe if they want to make it themselves!
It's kind of like when you go to the farmer's market and are buying strawberry jam. They put the card on top saying - "Here you can make it yourself!" and you say "Well that looks hard." But I appreciate someone who did it. And if you want to do it yourself, that's great. That's one more person doing it better out there.
How do you make your products not only safe for people to use but also reduce harm and impact on the environment?
It's the boring back end where all of the impact is. The packaging and supply chain where if you don't pay attention to it you're leaving this huge untapped resource of making things better.
Things like bleach and chlorine, they may be chemicals that are fine once they are in your home, but the processing of those chemicals is harmful. If you're using them at home, that means you're paying someone else to make it and that processing is really important.
From the processing to the packaging, how have you made efforts to reduce waste?
We measure every pound of garbage and recycling that we use in our facility to try to find ways that we can reduce it. Asking ourselves: Can we buy this in a different way? Can we reuse certain pieces of cardboard somewhere else in our packaging? You'll notice major efforts to reduce plastic waste in our packaging, with reusable glass bottles for home cleaning and trying to use cardboard and other recyclables where we can.