Preserving the Environment

Eco-Friendly Products Often Aren’t as Popular, But This Successful Startup Found a Winning, Green Formula

September 11, 2014
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Eco-Friendly Products Often Aren’t as Popular, But This Successful Startup Found a Winning, Green Formula
Eco-friendly products work just as well as their chemical counterparts. David McNew/Getty Images
What's The Honest Company's secret?

More and more people may be concerned about the environment, but when it comes to buying green products, there’s much less of a frenzy.

Even though they are better for the planet and work just as well (sometimes arguably better) than conventional products, there’s not much of a market for them. Take Clorox’s Green Works, a eco-friendly housecleaning line introduced in 2008. The products, which claim to be 99 percent natural and have an endorsement from the Sierra Club, sold $100 million in their first year. However, sales fell sharply by $60 million each year thereafter.

Why the dip? Sure, green products tend to be more expensive (because natural ingredients usually cost more). But surprisingly, it’s not the higher sticker price that causes consumers to avoid eco-friendly goods. According to a study, many of us reject green products because we think the quality is inferior to chemically-laden conventional products.

It’s simply a problem of perception.

However, a green beacon has emerged from the fray. The Honest Company, which sells nontoxic baby, cleaning, health and beauty products and was co-founded by actress Jessica Alba, recently made headlines after raising $70 million as it looks toward an IPO. The company is now worth almost $1 billion.

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The reason for its success? Fast Company suspects it’s because the company has “nailed the formula for eco-friendly products,” in that the items are green — but don’t look or feel like they are.

As the publication reports, the company’s chemical-free baby wipes are superior to any other wipe on the shelves, but because they were “too thin” consumers thought the quality wasn’t as high.

In response, The Honest Company decided to change their wipes to the market standard of 60 grams per square meter. Parents seemed to love the reworked wipes (even though they cost more: $4.95 for a box of 72, compared to $2.37 for 62 Pampers wipes.)

We’re not saying you must put your hard-earned dollars exclusively towards green products. But if you have the extra cash, it’s an investment that could be worth it, especially for the environment.

As Alba tells Sierra Magazine,“all of your purchasing and consuming choices are going to affect the planet and the people around you in some way, be it positive or negative. Just being a thoughtful, conscientious consumer is the first step.”

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