Green Cleaning Joins the New Industrial Revolution
12 Apr, 2010
Wired magazine recently published a very interesting article entitled “Atoms Are the New Bits,” which describes a new Industrial Revolution enabled by the Internet. In its relatively short lifespan to date, the Internet has made possible complete revolutions in publishing, music recording and distribution, and video production—and is now precipitating a completely new phase in industry. Today, it is actually feasible for someone at home with a laptop to design a product, have it manufactured, and move it to market right alongside competitive giants worth millions more. This modern Industrial Revolution is making possible small start-up companies, such as EcoDiscoveries, and is giving them the fighting chance they never would have had in the past.
EcoDiscoveries develops and makes natural, eco-friendly cleaning products, which can be found at natural outlets nationwide as well as online. They are not a large company. Founded by chemist Marc Perla and eco-visionary David Schurer, they list a grand total of eight staff on their “About Us” Web page. They entered a marketplace in which companies many times larger were already operating—and, if you include the general marketplace of all cleaning products, the competition is well established, well capitalized and enormous by comparison. These traditional household cleaning products companies were already jumping on the green bandwagon with “eco-friendly” versions of their established brands.
So, what distinctive value proposition did EcoDiscoveries provide? Making products that were not only 100 percent safe for the home and environment but also very effective. Organic Connections recently sat down with co-founder Marc Perla to get an idea of how they did it.
A chemist by trade, Marc saw the potential for enzymes a number of years ago as the basis for cleaning products that worked yet were 100 percent natural and harmless to humans and animals. “In our company Sorbent Technologies, we’re in the niche of chemistry called chromatography, which is the science of purification and separation,” Marc said. “Our customers are research chemists. We come in contact with some pretty unique people working on some unique things. Some years ago we started talking to a person that was involved with enzyme products, and enzyme abilities as catalysts interested us. We were interested in getting on the green wave and trying to offer cleaning products and other types of chemicals that are safer for the consumer, so the timing was good. Over the years we got better at it, improved it, broadened our family of products, came up with our EcoDiscoveries brand, and just kept on going from there.”
EcoDiscoveries household cleaning products are 100 percent natural, non-toxic and environmentally friendly. They contain no hazardous chemicals, caustics or irritants. Each product is formulated from plant-derived surface-active agents rather than traditional petrochemicals that pollute indoor and outdoor environments. They are fragrance free, chlorine free and ammonia free, making them completely hypoallergenic and safe for indoor use.
The Market Challenge
EcoDiscoveries faced the challenge of coming up against some fairly stiff existing competition. They had to find a way to show that their products were different from the rest.
“When encountering these competing products in the market, our greatest barrier was getting our message across to store owners and other consumers about why they should use our new product over the existing competition’s,” Marc related. “We have an in-house chemist who looks at the composition of competing products and has found that many of them are not entirely green by our standards. We like to set ourselves apart by the quality and level of safety of our products.”
EcoDiscoveries had also made it part of their mission to develop products that are effective as well as safe. This is where Marc’s background in chemistry really came in handy.
“There have been a lot of developments with the available chemicals that are out there,” Marc explained. “We’ve just been very careful and gone through a lot of painstaking steps, being choosy about what we’re mixing together to make a final product that is safe and effective. We do testing and lab studies to prove the efficacy of it. We compare it to products in the marketplace. We all use the products in our homes. We finally get down to one that we like and go with it.”
The product line includes tub and tile, glass cleaner, all-purpose cleaner, mold and mildew stain removers, products for the infant nursery, and even a pet stain remover and deodorizer.
Eco-friendly Product Packaging and Shipping
While developing the line, Marc and his team also realized that the contents weren’t the only problem with standard cleaning products. They were also shipped in plastic containers, with methods that utilized fossil fuels and contributed to the carbon footprint. EcoDiscoveries addressed these particular issues—and thereby found another way to distinguish themselves. All their products are concentrated so that weight is minimal and shipping weight is greatly reduced, and the containers are reusable so that they don’t end up in landfills. “We have tried to fully embrace the concept of green in designing our products,” Marc said. “We have been the first company of our kind to reduce packaging and fuel used for shipping, and to encourage the reuse of our bottles by providing our product line in the form of concentrates.”
Into the Future
Now that EcoDiscoveries has made an impact, they are far from done. “We’re always working on next generation products,” said Marc. “For example, we’re developing an all-natural antimicrobial product that I think will put us in a unique position. Preliminary tests have proven that it’s really effective. What we hope to have from it is a mold preventative product and a mold cleaner, as well as a natural fungicide and vegetable wash because it has the bactericide components to it. It could even function as an alternative in agriculture to some of the pesticides they’re using for fungi growth.”
People like Marc have great ideas every day. With the new Industrial Revolution, we can expect to see many more of these actually materializing and arriving in all areas of our lives.
To find out more about EcoDiscoveries and their products, visit their web site at www.ecodiscoveries.com.