It’s Easy Being Green – If You Know How
Like so many great business ideas, the creation of leading eco-cleaning products business Green Addict started out with a personal problem. The Noosa-based company, which recently generated keen interest with their stand at the 2019 Naturally Good Expo, was born after co-founder Sharona Webb experienced health issues in her previous cleaning business job.
A Health Problem Leads to a Search For a Solution
Sharona and her mum Tara originally started a cleaning operation in Perth in 2010 and grew the business to 10 employees. “Soon the entire staff plus Mum and myself started developing health problems,” Sharona says. “I had a lot of low immunity-related issues such as colds, coughs flus and rashes and so did Mum. At one point she came down with shingles. Our staff were constantly ill, people had dermatitis on their hands, asthma-related breathing problems, headaches, you name it. There was a lot of people constantly off sick and I realised it was due to the toxic make-up of the cleaning products we were using. Every time I went to clean a bathroom I’d start coughing and spluttering.”
Sharona’s team switched to more eco-friendly cleaning products on the market, however found they weren’t commercially viable. “Whilst they were better for us health-wise, they simply didn’t clean effectively, so they were useless for our purposes,” she says. “I was stunned that there was nothing suitable out there and that there was such a gap in the market. That’s what led me to develop Green Addict.”
Going Green Pays Off
Three years ago, Sharona decided to bring her idea of an effective green cleaning range to fruition. By then living in Queensland with her husband and three children, Sharona, along with Tara started trialling different products and found many solutions were not 100 per cent natural. Tara, who has a chemistry background, started mixing up different formulations in her laundry and the pair began talking in earnest to developers.
“A lot of chemists were initially negative,” Sharona says. “They’d say, ‘there’s no way you can get a surfactant [detergent agent] to work without palm oil’. However, sustainability is also vitally important to us and as the harvesting of palm oil is so detrimental to the environment, we kept looking until we found a chemist who suggested a solution that didn’t contain palm oil derivatives.”
The Growth of a Brand
Thanks to dogged determination, by 2017 the Green Addict range was ready to launch – 100 per cent all-natural products free from harmful compounds, SLS, SLES, EDTA, palm oil, parabens, sulphates, synthetic fragrances and animal products.
The range includes kitchen, bathroom, and laundry cleaners along with their best-seller – the odourless Grease Muncher: Natural Oven and Grill DeGreaser and Cleaner. All the products are available online through the Green Addict website and are stocked in pharmacies, gourmet groceries, online retailers, boutique eco retailers and a commercial distributor. Bottles can also be re-filled at certain outlets. Tara, who last year won the AusMumpreneur Award for Sustainability, says the feedback from customers, which has been thoroughly positive, is rewarding to hear.
“I use the products myself at home and the proof is in the pudding,” she says. “I like to keep my home as chemical free as possible and my family doesn’t really have any health issues which is very reassuing. Keeping my young children away from harmful toxins is paramount to me. Especially when there is growing evidence that exposure to some chemicals like SLS can lead to things like early puberty. So, if I can give parents peace of mind by using our products that great.”
Plans For Expansion
Sharona says in the next 12 months the company has further plans to expand. “We’ll be looking to manufacture the products ourselves, lining up more stockists and continuing to educate the public,” she says.
“Consumers are often misled by big brands who call themselves things like ‘eco’ or ‘natural’, yet their products are still laden with hideous toxins and chemicals. This is because the industry is not regulated as to what you need to put on your packaging as it in the food or other like areas, so people really need to be aware, study ingredients on the back of labels and do a little research so they’re informed.”
She’ll also be busy spreading the word about Green Addict whenever she can. “It was great to talk to so many different people and distributors at Naturally Good this year. To be in such a charged environment with so many other different entrepreneurs who are all about people living cleanly and healthily was very inspiring. I’m just passionate about educating and supporting families and businesses on how to make these changes and create toxic-free environments for themselves.”