Blueland prides itself on being the future of “clean” cleaning products. The company offers water-less cleaning products that are meant to refill their “Forever Bottles” over and over again in a cost-efficient and waste-reducing way. They promise clean ingredients and recyclable packaging, and with no compromise to the effectiveness of their products’ cleaning power. Blueland’s Dish Soap Starter Set has a very sustainable and innovative design that retails for $20 on their website. The sleek silicone bottle is made to sit pretty on any kitchen counter, and each pouch of dish soap powder will replace one plastic bottle of traditional dish soap. The reviews on the website give it a 4.5 star rating and customers generally seem to love the product. Some complain that the powder makes them cough or sneeze, but overall it doesn’t seem to be a deterrent that stops them from continuing to buy and use the product. Blueland is definitely on the right track, and I’m confident that as the company matures they will deliver even more refined products and greater transparency.
Blueland’s Dish Soap Starter Set includes a 16 oz package of fragrance free powder dish soap (packaged in compostable paper) and a reusable silicone shaker that is meant to be refilled and reused. This product is intended to make the after-meal chore a plastic free experience. The Dish Soap Starter Set is Certified USDA BioPreferred and Leaping Bunny and made without any triclosan, parabens, phosphates, ammonia, VOCs, petroleum, phthalates, artificial dyes or fragrances. Blueland also offers Safety Data Sheets for every one of their soap products which lays out all chemical ingredients and their possible side effects (1).
There are seven ingredients used in Blueland’s powder dish soap which are all naturally derived. The webpage also explains what the function of each ingredient is so that the conscious consumer can feel good about the product they are using. Unfortunately, three of the seven ingredients listed for this product either does or may contain palm oil. These ingredients are: ** Caprylyl/Caprylyl Glucoside (2), ** Lauryl Glucoside and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate ** (3). ** Because Blueland has not made a statement about being palm oil free, I have to be incredibly hesitant about the sustainability of these ingredients. Sodium Bicarbonate ** and Hydrated Silica are two more ingredients used in the product that do raise some concerns, although they are considered safe for humans.
Sodium Bicarbonate: ** This common household item, sodium bicarbonate AKA baking soda, is the first listed ingredient. Baking soda is a great natural ingredient for many reasons, but, I thought it was important to point out that it is considered a non-renewable and non-recyclable ingredient. Additionally, it is a resource that has to be mined which makes it energy-intensive in its manufacture and transport (4). All considered, I think it is a preferable ingredient compared to other toxic commercial alternatives.
Hydrated Silica (SAS): In many online reviews customers complain that the dish soap powder is “cough-inducing” and a “respiratory irritant”, which must be a result of the SAS compound. Customers have complained that shaking the bottle to distribute the powder soap causes the powder to become airborne and can cause coughing or sneezing. In general, this chemical is considered to be of low risk to both human health and the environment. Studies have shown that SAS produces a time- and dose-related inflammation response of the lung tissue which is considered a low-grade severity common lung-tissue response (5). The dish soap does not have a large enough concentration of the chemical to cause any serious effects. I think this all comes down to personal preference. It is understandable for customers to discontinue the use of this product because it makes them cough or sneeze, and studies show that these effects are reversible following discontinuation of exposure (5). Perhaps Blueland could replace SAS with a different ingredient to resolve this issue.
Unfortunately the site has limited information about how their products are made. The site does say, “We are proud to have worked closely with Cradle to Cradle from the inception of our company to receive the Platinum Material Health Certificate.” Cradle to Cradle is an institution heavily involved in the global shift to a circular economy, setting the standard for products that are safe and made responsibly. The Platinum level of certification represents the highest level of Material Health Certification. Platinum level products have been assessed and deemed acceptable by the institution on things like product ingredients and emission standards (6).
Regarding the Dish Soap Starter Set, there is no available information about how the dish soap powder is made. All the website says is that the Forever Bottles are designed in the US and responsibly manufactured in China. I wish Blueland went into more detail about what their responsible manufacturing process looks like. In the future I would like to see Blueland share more about out about how they as a company manage the relationships with their employees, suppliers, community, and consumers. Until then, I will have to base this rating off Blueland’s certifications from Crade to Cradle, USDA BioPreferred, and Leaping Bunny.
I consider Blueland to be a pioneer in household products. Its business model is very innovative. Making their products liquid-free makes them weigh less for shipping and distributing purposes which in turn drastically lowers their carbon footprint. Eliminating the liquid also allows Blueland products to be single-use-plastic-free. The cleaning solutions come in a solid form wrapped in paper packaging. The dish soap powder is simply poured into the silicone Forever Bottle and refilled over and over again. Many of their products are just-add-water tablets that you dissolve in their Forever Bottles to create your own cleaning solutions.
Blueland was founded by an Asian-American women named Sarah Paiji Yoo. When she entered motherhood she became more concerned about the microplastics that contaminate the water supply we consume. She was motivated to limit her use of single-use plastic but found that difficult to do as she reached for common household products in stores, like window cleaner and toothpaste — all packaged in plastic. The products she has created shows that Sarah really cares about creating sustainable products (she persevered through the struggle of finding sustainable packaging for her dry tablets that almost devastated her company (7)). Blueland is disrupting the industry as a young, privately-owned, POC-owned company on a unique pathway. In addition to their sustainability efforts, Blueland has a blog where they advocate for important social issues like environmental justice, political advocacy, and supporting Black-owned sustainable businesses.