Earth Suds’ innovative products help reduce waste and plastic in oceans

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Photo by Madeline McInnis

Slowly but surely the global community is making efforts towards eliminating plastic waste that ultimately damages our various ecosystems.

Most recently on a large scale, Starbucks Coffee announced their goal to eliminate the need for plastic straws with their beverages entirely by 2020 and have already begun to implement their new lid design.

Students at Wilfrid Laurier University have also become involved in this movement through the founding of Earth Suds, a company whose mission is to provide completely waste-free and environmentally sustainable soap products such as shampoo, conditioner, body wash and hand soap.

Earth Suds was founded by Marissa Vettoretti, third-year business student, when, last summer, she entered The Circular Design Challenge. This global competition, not affiliated with either Laurier or Enactus, asks participants to consider “how might we get products to people without generating plastic waste?”

“I think that when you run a business sustainably you have found the most profitable way to run a business,” Vettoretti said.

The Circular Design Challenge asks competitors to target their designs toward small-format plastics.

“The issue with this type of plastic is [that] it’s so small it actually gets filtered out when it goes to recycling facilities,” Vettoretti said.

Small-format plastic products make up 10 per cent of all plastic packaging and are resistant to our recycling efforts, contributing to our landfills and polluting our waterways.

Vettoretti entered her initial design into the competition as a “Listerine strip for shampoo” inspired form, eliminating the need for plastic bottles.

Although Earth Suds’ products are not currently available for purchase, they will be very soon as Vettoretti and her team are coming close to a finished business plan.

Her idea brought her success in the competition. She received encouragement from her entrepreneurship instructor to pursue setting up Earth Suds with Enactus Laurier. Enactus is a social entrepreneurship club at Laurier that “almost functions as an incubator. Its purpose is to support [student businesses],” Vettoretti said.

Earth Suds’ soaps and shampoos are designed for single use. As well, their target market is hotels which traditionally provide small-format plastic bottles of soap, shampoo and conditioner to their guests.

“All those small bottles that you get in your hotel, those can’t be recycled,” Vettoretti said. “We are doing samples right now with Hotel Laurier”.

Since competing in The Circular Design Challenge, however, Earth Suds has modified their product.

“I’m really moving towards zero waste,” Vettoretti stated. “The current product is almost like a solid cube that dissolves with water.”

Marissa also mentioned that these cubes will be packaged in reusable containers.

On top of being an environmentally-friendly design, Earth Suds’ soaps are made simply from only a handful of ingredients.

“It is a very simple formula. The main ingredient is Lauryl Sulphate, the main component in most soaps, [as well as] a lot of natural oils, which is all you really need to clean and moisturize your hair,” Vettoretti said.

“We test the pH of the soap always, not only for safety but also for when it goes into our waterways.”

Their formula and keeping the pH neutral makes their soaps environmentally ideal, especially if using in open waterways when camping.

Although Earth Suds’ products are not currently available for purchase, they will be very soon as Vettoretti and her team are coming close to a finished business plan.

“We’re planning to launch the actual product when we go back into the school year,” Vettoretti stated.

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