Doing laundry is harmless, right? As it turns out, washing that stain out of your favorite shirt actually does more harm than you realize. The harsh chemicals found in most laundry detergents can really hurt both your skin and your environment. But do not fret; there is an easy way out.
Lauren Singer has a fervent commitment to this planet. After two years, she has managed to produce only enough trash to fill a small mason jar. Beyond this, her company, Simply Co., has made a long lasting, positive impact on the environmnet. What started with a few daily changes eventually grew into the creation of this company, which produces toxin free and natural cleaning products. After several years of concocting these everyday products in her Brooklyn home, she created an all-natural and vegan laundry detergent to replace the harmful ones so prevalent today. Singer sat down with me and divulged what is in store for Simply Co., what peaked her interest in environmental science and just how she lives her zero waste lifestyle.
BWB: Why did you decide to major in Environmental Studies?
When I first went to college, I was actually studying journalism.When I read Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, I realized how much human beings could negatively affect the natural environment, harming themselves and other species, as well. Wanting to do something about it, I signed up for environmental science electives. When I starting to get terrible grades in journalism, while receiving straight As in my environmental science electives, I knew what path to take. I realized that the environment is what I am most passionate about, so that’s what I decided to study.
BWB: How did you create the right formula for your laundry detergent?
It consisted of a bunch of different trial and error processes. I tried a number of things and mixed around ingredients until, eventually, I fell upon one that worked for me.
We don’t need a million different ingredients to clean our clothes.
BWB: Is your product good for someone with sensitive skin?
Yes, if you can use bar soap and you are not adverse to salt, you can use it. It is basically just baking soda and organic vegan castile soap. I have had people with all kinds of skin conditions use it and say that it worked better than anything they had every used. We don’t need a million different ingredients to clean our clothes.
BWB: Would you want to expand Simply Co. to be a lifestyle eco brand?
Who knows? I’m going to take it one step at a time.
BWB: What are your favorite eco friendly brands?
I love Life Without Plastic because they sell tons of amazing plastic free alternatives. I love Brush with Bamboo, Lunette Cup and Glad Rags. Clean Canteen makes some good products although they source a lot of their steel virgin and they don’t use a lot of recycled content, which I don’t understand. They’re not my favorite, but I do use their products sometimes.
BWB: What are your favorite beauty brands?
I use the shampoo bar from Meow Meow Tweet. Everything else I just make myself.
BWB: What about makeup brands?
I was using RMS for a while and I still use some their products for my lips. I also recently learned that coconut oil was good for the face, but I think it might have been causing me to break out, so I moved away from that.
BWB: Any favorite online stores to buy your favorite brands?
I adore Life without Plastic, but also love to support my local Brooklyn shops and businesses. I think it is really important to support my community.
BWB: What’s your favorite go to local store?
De Penair in Brooklyn (Williamsburg) and they actually sell Simply Co. in bulk. I agreed to sell my product if I did it package free, and I loved that. They are a store I really believe in; I love their ethics. They also have the best sandwiches.
BWB: What do you do during your daily routine to waste less?
My daily routine is really the same now as it was before, but I make different choices. I wake up and brush my teeth with my own toothpaste, using a bamboo toothbrush instead of a plastic packaged one. I wash my face with organic bar soap, and I replaced a toxic chemical latent facial cleanser and moisturize with ones that I made myself. I still do all the same things; I just use different products.
I started by learning how to make my own toothpaste and it felt amazing. After that, I learned to use a reusable bag everyday and incorporate that into my routine. Then I learned how to shop at the farmer’s market and compost. It was all a gradual process.
BWB: What is your advice to people wanting to be a part of the ‘zero waste lifestyle’?
Start small, with something that sounds exciting and easy for you. Once you accomplish that one thing, choose another. I think it is all about baby steps and doing things that are really simple. If we overwhelm ourselves with a bunch of changes all at once, we might quit. I started by learning how to make my own toothpaste and it felt amazing. After that, I learned to use a reusable bag everyday and incorporate that into my routine. Then I learned how to shop at the farmer’s market and compost. It was all a gradual process.
Everyone deserves a product that is safe, effective, pure, and minimalistic.
BWB: What is next for Simply Co.?
We are hoping to expand to more cleaning products, and in bulk. I want Simply Co. to be sold everywhere, package-free – that is my dream. I believe packaging is incredibly wasteful. When people can fill up their own containers, it is less expensive. I eventually want everybody around the world to have access to a product like mine. Everyone deserves a product that is safe, effective, pure, and minimalistic. One day, I hope that everyone will be able to make his or her own products. I care more about that than making my company the next best thing.
Melissa Marie Davis, is a native Central New Yorker who is a stylist and fashion journalist. Her passion for art, culture, beauty and wellness follow her through her writing career in San Francisco at The Culture Trip, 7×7 Magazine and MaharaniWeddings.com. She has styled lifestyle, editorial and product shoots for Cost Plus World Market, Azadeh Couture and Converse. She has a BFA in Advertising Design from Syracuse University and a MA in Fashion Journalism from Academy of Art University.