How Grove Collaborative Plans To Become Plastic-Free By 2025
When Grove Collaborative's co-founder and CEO Stuart Landesberg launched the household cleaning company in 2012, he was already thinking about the industry's biggest problem: single-use plastic. Now, eight years later, Grove and all third-party vendors have committed to transitioning all products to be 100% plastic-free by 2025.
Why is single-use plastic a problem in this industry?
Currently, there's no financial incentive for companies to reduce plastic waste or find a solution. "People have made so much money selling products with single-use plastic, and they don't have to deal with it in the long run," Landesberg told us. "When you throw away a massive bottle of laundry detergent, that's going to be on the earth for the next 1,000 years or so, and the company doesn't have to pay for that."
To offset this issue, Grove Collaborative and its partners—including Seventh Generation, Mrs. Meyers, and method—are taxing themselves for every product they make or sell with plastic. The taxes will go toward Plastic Bank, a company that accepts used plastic as currency in developing nations, providing an economic resource to developing nations and limiting the amount of plastic bound for the ocean.
While other companies have committed to reducing plastic by 2025, Grove's ambitious decision took the concept one step further. "We want consumer products to be a positive force for environmental health," Landesberg said, "not just a little less bad."
What are the steps to becoming plastic neutral?
Their multistep process to becoming plastic-neutral is one you may be familiar with: Reduce, reuse, and recycle. Though it'll take time—five years to be exact—Landesberg doesn't want progress to get in the way of perfection.
One of Grove's bestselling products is a walnut scrubber sponge, which is meant to reduce the number of paper towels people use. They also make glass spray bottles to hold surface cleaning sprays or hand soap, reducing the number of plastic vessels sold.
"I'm now 'woke' to the fact that recycling's not enough," Landesberg said, "but people all across the world are still buying products that are convenient." By reducing the number of empty plastic bottles sold, Grove can reduce the amount that will inevitably end up in landfills or oceans.
The company is revealing the formula for their All-Purpose Cleaning Concentrate in an attempt to encourage competitors to create something similar. By switching to a concentrate, rather than a spray, buyers get more use out of the product and accumulate less waste. According to a news release, the concentrate has "saved almost 500,000 pounds of plastic since its launch."
Making this kind of reusable solution accessible to other household cleaning companies has the potential to change the landscape of the industry, as well as the environment.
"Plastic recycling in the U.S. is pretty broken," Landesberg told us, "so we want people to be aware and be recycling properly." Unfortunately, most plastic that goes into a recycling bin doesn't actually get recycled, and if it does, it takes a ton of energy and can only be recycled a limited number of times.
Switching from plastic to more easily recyclable materials, like aluminum and glass, or compostable products like paper, can help lessen the impact.
How can we be more conscious of our plastic use?
If industries follow suit, it will be much easier for consumers to make smart decisions about their plastic use.
"I'm hopeful this is Step 1 of 100 that we will see business leaders take over the next decade for the sake of our planet, our children, our health," Landesberg said. "All these things are impacted by the consumer economy."
But that doesn't mean we have to wait until 2025 to reduce our single-use plastic purchases. If the change seems overwhelming, try taking it one room at a time. Whether it's the laundry room, the bathroom, or the kitchen, sort through your cleaning products, and start fresh.
Beyond cleaning products, here are four ways you can trick yourself into using less plastic.