We love this part of the job because we get to shine the spotlight on people who make good products and add more good to the world. When we ask one of our makers the same 6 questions, we always learn something new.
This month, we're featuring Kate Jakubas, Founder of Meliora Cleaning Products. It all started when Kate, while studying for a Masters degree in Environmental Engineering, struggled to find out and understand what ingredients were in everyday household cleaning products such as laundry detergent. She wanted to make sure the ingredients were safe for those in her household and the environment, but the ingredients weren’t even listed! It became clear that it was hard to be a responsible consumer and to do no harm. After formulating her own vegetable soap and using it to do her own laundry, she knew she could offer better products that were rooted in simple ingredients and build a company that was honest about how products are made.
Since Meliora's very first day as a business, they have disclosed every ingredient in every product they make right on the label. Meliora has lobbied in support of cleaning product Right-To-Know Acts, including the successful SB-258 campaign that will require ingredient listings on cleaning products in California! California will be the first state to require such labeling and we are very excited for the implementation of this law, so more people will be able to understand the household products they use.
So, without further ado, here's our Q & A with Kate:
What's Good: What does being eco-friendly mean to you? Kate: Eco-friendly means being thoughtful about what we do, and carefully considering the potential impact of our decisions on the planet and creatures around us.
What's Good: What's your biggest climate change fear/concern? Kate: Plastics: extraction, production, use and disposal. The entire lifecycle from petroleum extraction (yes, plastic is a fossil fuel product!), to production of resin material, to use in a number of unnecessary products, to disposal/pollution in our waterways and on land, is full of climate and toxicity issues. That's before we even get to the problems with recycling plastics, which often involve low-efficiency incineration. As our energy grid moves away from using fossil fuels, they aren't just staying in the ground; fossil fuel companies are developing new markets for them and the biggest target is the plastic industry.
What's Good:If our readers could only do one green thing, what would it be and why? Kate: To keep going on the theme above; working to reduce the amount of plastic you allow into your life. Plastics reduction has a giant intersectional impact: it helps keep fossil fuels in the ground, lessens the impact on frontline communities bearing the brunt of the toxic pollution from plastic resin production, is generally healthier for you (think food contact and PFAS exposures), and helps reduce the plastic pollution crisis in our lands and waterways. Talk about a quadruple win!
What's Good: What's the biggest 'bad habit' YOU have as it relates to eco/sustainable lifestyle that is a challenge for you? (Flying, eating meat, ziplock baggies, take out food, etc.) Kate: As a recovering perfectionist, I can sometimes let the perfect be the enemy of the good! I'm definitely getting better about celebrating small and incremental improvements.
What's Good: What started you on your eco-journey? Kate: I was an engineer working on sinks and faucets when a new law was implemented to reduce the amount of lead in faucets sold in California. After completing the project, I realized my definition of environmentally friendly being "I recycle" wasn't enough for me and I was inspired to better understand the mechanisms of pollution on our planet and people. I went back to school to get my Masters in Environmental Engineering and I founded Meliora Cleaning Products the week I graduated in May 2013 so I could put these principles into practice.
What's Good: What your favorite part/aspect of Meliora Cleaning Products? Kate: When I hear from folks that they've been searching and searching for a cleaning product that truly shares their environmental values and is safe for their families, and they are either relieved or excited (often both) to learn that we actually exist! Solving problems for people is my love language and I get to do it, in a big way, at Meliora.