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Feb 04

Green Your Clean: Ditch Single-Use Plastic & Upgrade to Non-Toxic Cleaners

By neesha | Clean Products , climate cange , Eco-Friendly , single-use plastics , Social Enterprise

Man cleaning window

DEAR IMPACT STARS MEMBERS,

Stories about ocean plastic, the difficulty in recycling single-use plastic containers, and toxic chemicals entering our waterways can make you feel depressed and hopeless.

Well, here’s ONE WAY to move from frustration to action.

Introducing Truman’s. This company has created an innovative solution to the plastic problem.

Here’s how it works: They send you 4 re-usable plastic bottles with non-toxic cleaning cartridges for all your cleaning needs. You never have to buy another cleaner again! Just order new cleaning cartridges that fit right into your four cleaning bottles.

This video demonstrates how they are different from all the other cleaning solutions out there:

Doesn’t Truman’s subscription model remind you of Dollar Shave Club – for cleaning supplies? Their ad is funny too!

So… Here’s My Take On Truman’s

PROS:

REDUCE ECO-IMPACT: By choosing a product like Truman’s, I’m reducing my environmental impact. At the moment, I’m also looking at Blueland, one of their key competitors. It does the same thing as Truman’s, except instead of refill cartridges, it sends you tablets.

REDUCE EXPENSES: I can’t tell you how many bottles of cleaners in our house I haven’t used in years. All those bottles will end up in the landfill and probably won’t be recycled because of the cleaning chemicals inside. If you add up all the money I spent — Truman’s is definitely less expensive (and better for the earth).

BETTER FOR HEALTH: Truman’s customer service rep informed me that they only use ingredients that are non-toxic – so that’s a plus. We moved to using Meyer’s, Seventh Generation, and Honest Company products for personal use because of this toxicity issue. However, for cleaning bathrooms, many cleaning companies insist on using Tilex and Windex, so it will be interesting to see if Truman’s is better than those noxious cleaners.

CONS:

STILL NOT ZERO-WASTE OR CARBON NEUTRAL: I wish there was a way to offset the shipping eco-impact using a marketplace like Nori. Fortunately, after they ship you the four empty plastic bottles, you only receive cartridges in the mail. That’s not a huge shipping footprint – so this is not a deal-breaker for me. But it sure would be nice if as the company grows, they can offset their own carbon footprint – from the making of the plastic bottles all the way to shipping their packages to the customer. I would also like to see how they help their customers recycle the bottles at the end of life. Eventually, we must move to bioplastics that can be composted but right now the technology doesn’t exist. But it’s better to do something till that technology exists — and Truman’s represents the kind of action that’s imperfect but a big step in the right direction. Blueland claims that their bottles are cradle-to-cradle certified so I’m curious what exactly that means. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of detail around that on their website.

SUBSCRIPTION MANAGEMENT: I also felt lazy about typing my information on their website. It’s one more subscription I need to keep track of… But when I think about reducing my impact on the earth, I guess it’s not too much to ask. I just wish I could manage all of these decisions in one place. This solution needs to be invented!

In conclusion, I see a few audiences get very excited about solutions like Truman’s and Blueland:

  • Environmentally-conscious consumers who feel intense eco-guilt and want non-toxic products in their homes.
  • Restaurants and other businesses that use a lot of cleaners and want to be good stewards of the earth – you get brownie points from your customers AND save money AND save the environment. That’s a win-win-win.
  • Companies that have signed the 1% For the Planet Pledge – it demonstrates that you operate in integrity with your values.
  • B-Corp and social enterprises – again, it makes business sense!
  • Environmental nonprofits, foundations, and policy groups – imagine going to the breakroom at the Sierra Club, the NRDC, WWF, or The Nature Conservancy, and seeing bottles of cleaners that will end up in the landfill… It doesn’t make sense.
  • Fortune 500 companies with sustainability goals – it’s a visible ‘win’ for a Chief Sustainability Officer or CEO who wants to send a clear message to employees about how the company cares about the earth.

If you’re excited about Truman’s but you’re still confused about how it works…Here’s an animated video that shows how to install the replaceable cartridges into your four bottles.

Learn more about Truman’s.

So how does Truman’s stack up with Blueland – the brand that was featured on Shark Tank? Specifically, I had questions about why Truman’s uses cartridges versus tablets — which Blueland has.

I asked Jared, Truman’s Customer Service Associate this question. Here’s what he had to say:

Their (Blueland’s) tablets are sent out using paper wrapping, which we explored as an option, however both the packaging and the tablet format make it easier for them to be accidentally ingested by a small child or pet. Additionally, the tablet doesn’t dissolve easily, which can lead to inconsistent product quality. We opted for using recyclable plastic as a way of ensuring product quality and safety standards.

DEAR TRUMAN’S,

It’s so refreshing to see a brand that takes something so serious (the plastic problem) and innovate around it.

I admire you for creating a business that’s goal is to reduce the plastic junk in the world. It’s bold. It’s brave. And it’s fun. You are benefiting from a ton of free publicity and media coverage because you are solving a real environmental problem.

I’m also encouraged to see that the team has major CPG brands on board — perhaps your success will create a sea-change in the industry, and that’s actually the real opportunity here. We need ALL packaging to be equally eco-responsible and show there is a revenue model for this alternative type of commerce.

Nothing will make me happier to see Truman’s transform the packaged goods industry.

Great job on SEO – your website showed up #1. And your animated video is really good.

AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT:

A BETTER AFFILIATE / PARTNER PROGRAM: I didn’t sign up for your affiliate program because the 10% didn’t seem worth the effort and there was no other benefit.

I know margins are tight, but maybe there’s a better way to get environmentally-conscious consumers to sell the product for you. A strong affiliate program can be the lifeblood of your new customer enrollment strategy until you achieve mass-market status. In fact, it can significantly reduce your customer acquisition costs. Pair that up with a viral Youtube ad, and you have growth pixie dust! As someone who designed loyalty programs, it was disappointing to see that you aren’t leveraging what I feel is your biggest asset – your posse of loyal fans and customers. You could even do a promotional campaign with the nation’s leading nonprofits that fills their buckets up with donations. You are leaving so much money on the table if you don’t use this partnership-marketing approach. From what I see, you’ve only collaborated with Instagram and YouTube influencers so far — and not enough to really get a buzz going.

A STRONGER YOUTUBE PRESENCE: Your brand has the potential to go viral on Youtube. I’m sure you’re already working on it but if you step up your game there, you’ll see really great results within 30-60 days. As Ryan Daniel Moran says, the first 29 seconds of a YouTube ad is essentially free ad space, and your brand has the potential to convert within the first 15-29 seconds by virtue of the mission you’re on.

CONVERT CLEANING PROS: If Truman’s can get the cleaning industry on board, it will have a ripple effect. I know many cleaning professionals who are tired of inhaling toxic Tilex but they need to believe that your product doesn’t require more elbow grease — their work is tiring enough as it is. If you do some side-by-side comparison videos by cleaning professionals, it will go a long way in building credibility — and they buy in bulk! This will also help consumers because if they see an ‘expert’ endorse your brand, they know it’s good enough for home use. Remember the Blendtec ads? They went viral because they were so ridiculous (but effective in making a point). I would love to see something like that for your brand. When consumers see that your product is not only good for the earth but also effective and better than the existing options they currently use, you’ll see an exponential rise in sales.

In Conclusion:

ECO-IMPACT ASSESSMENT: As this type of cleaning product becomes more common, I would love to have a side-by-side comparison of the eco-impact of Truman’s versus Blueland and other alternatives to single-use plastic cleaning options that are coming into the market.

Tell me what you think!

Do you think Truman’s is the best alternative out there?

What do you use?

Do you have any questions for either Truman’s or Blueland? I’m happy to ask them!

I’d love to know what you think!

Data Source For This Review:

  1. Live Chat With Truman’s Customer Service Representative, Jared:

Neesha: Water, Alcohol Ethoxylate, 1-Butoxypropanol, Dipropylene Glycol Monopropyl Ether, Sodium Xylene Sulfonate, Octyl-2-pyrrolidone, Alkyl Polyglucoside, Benzoisothiazolinone, Fresh Cucumber, Sweet Basil, Permabril Green – Why not have clean ingredients like Dr. Bronner?

Jared: We do! Our products all have ingredients that were chosen from the Cleangredients list.

I know they’re big words, but not all chemicals are bad, in fact, water is a chemical – sometimes that’s just the most accurate way to list what’s inside.

It was very important to use products that were non-toxic and environmentally friendly, which is why we cross checked our ingredients against the Cleangredients list so we (and you) could feel good about what’s inside.

Neesha: Are you planning to be on Amazon?

Jared: We are not right now.

We wanted to offer our products at a competitive price, which meant going direct to consumers instead of through other 3rd parties.

Neesha: What’s your biggest challenge right now? I see you’ve gotten a lot of press, and you’ve got a great website.

Jared: Our biggest challenge is continuing to improve our products while cutting down on plastic waste.

Neesha: I wish there was a bioplastic that could replace all the plastic bottles – I like what you’re doing but it’s still plastic.

Jared: For what it’s worth, we do too – unfortunately, bioplastic is either cost-prohibitive for a small company to offer or isn’t durable enough to last for the length we’d like our bottles to last Jared · 12:24 PM · 

While we’re looking to reduce that waste even more, we’re still trying to do what we can by at least reducing single-use plastic

Neesha: Yes, agreed. Something better than nothing.12:25 PM

Jared: Additionally, we’re also happy to be cutting down on fossil fuel consumption as our products use the USPS instead of big trucks to transport, and we’re not transporting as much water as other brands 🙂

Neesha: I wanted to ask you if you have any videos showing the efficacy of your shower cleaner versus the other toxic ones out there? Our cleaners insist the only thing that works is Tilex

Jared: We have several customer videos featured on our instagram page.

Jared: One additional piece, we made the decision to go with our plastic cartridges for safety reasons as well.  Pods and tablets have a high ingestion rate, and even non-toxic cleaners can be toxic in concentrated forms.

So we wanted to ensure safety for pets and children, as well as provide sustainable solutions.

Neesha: As I was researching this piece, I came across https://www.blueland.com/products/the-clean-essentials

It seems that their tablets are a lot more eco-friendly than your cartridges. Am I right or not?

Also, their packaging says Cradle to Cradle certified…. which I’m not sure yours is, please can you clarify?

Jared: I’ll have to check on Cradle to Cradle, however I can speak about Blueland a bit.

Their tablets are sent out using paper wrapping, which we explored as an option, however both the packaging and the tablet format make it easier for them to be accidentally ingested by a small child or pet.

Additionally, the tablet doesn’t dissolve easily, which can lead to inconsistent product quality.

We opted for using recyclable plastic as a way of ensuring product quality and safety standardsJared · 

I talked to one of our founders about Cradle to Cradle.  We haven’t gotten many requests for that certification so we haven’t done a proper investigation on what’s involved and the history of that particular certification.We do maintain transparency about using the Cleangredients list in case our customers do have any questions about the ecological and safety impacts of any ingredient in our products.

Neesha: How do we recycle the cartridges? Do they actually get recycled in most municipalities or does it end up in a landfill?

Jared: They’re a number 5 recyclable plastic, which is picked up by many Whole Foods locations if a town doesn’t accept it.  Additionally, one of the things we’re developing for the future is a program where those cartridges can be sent back to us and we can refill them.