About Ryan Mckenzie:
Ryan Mckenzie has one of those stories that makes you feel that anything is possible.
He co-founded a business (Tru Earth) based on a patented, eco-friendly laundry strip. His product is vastly better for the environment than traditional methods, and his company took off almost immediately.
Laundry is a sneaky but incredibly wasteful industry, and his company Tru Earth has already eliminated nearly 6 million plastic jugs from landfills while donating nearly 10 million loads of laundry to those in need. If you want a truly inspirational tale about building an 8-figure business and helping the planet in the process, this is the episode for you.
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EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS & RESEARCH sources:
2:30 – “For four months I had been going through this new parent anxiety phase where I was worried about the future for [my children].
6:12 – “I started looking at the stats on plastic waste just from laundry detergent, and there’s about a billion jugs purchased in North America every year. And the absolute best end of the stats that I can find is about 30% are recycled in any capacity, so 10% are actually physically repurposed into new stuff.”
6:49 – “700 million jugs every year or ending up in landfills. I’m like, ‘Wow, that’s that’s a really big opportunity to address, right?’”
8:16 – “When you start to get overwhelmed and it’s just about the money, it’s really easy to say ‘What am I doing this for?’ When when you start getting overwhelmed and you have a purpose… For me, it’s the future of my children and reducing plastic and potentially helping, being a small cog in reducing climate change? It’s pretty hard to quit on that.”
11:06 – “I think near the end of the first month, we started rolling out some Google ads. We started seeing success with the Facebook ads on day two. Day one? Nothing.”
16:39 – “What we’ve done I think really well is we’ve hired… Our COO is from Kroger. Our director of sales came from Johnson & Johnson, our director of marketing came from Johnson & Johnson.”
19:28 – “If you want people to continue sharing your product, you want them to be delighted the whole way through.”
21:30 – “So not only do we reduce plastic, but you’re also getting a dramatic reduction in transportation-related carbon footprint.”
29:38 – “If you want to put out an eco-friendly product and you want to actually make a difference, go the extra step. Make the product just as easy to use as what they’re used to. Make it work just as well as what they’re used to.”
35:37 – “We donate a lot of product. So for every package—for every subscription that’s started—we donate 32 loads to people in need around North America.”
38:40 – “Our goal as a company is to give consumers the ability to… make little changes. Give them one easy place that they can go and make these small changes. And if we can get seven billion people to all start making little changes, we’re going to be a heck of a lot better than if we had one billion people being perfect.”
43:31 – “As human beings, we need to stop canceling people for their behaviors and instead provide them alternatives or understand that we’re all human.”
47:03 – “I would rather spend some money and fail and move on than to spend two years committing to setting this whole thing up and then launching it… crickets. And just try to continue continuously trying to pivot. It’s just like this exercise in self torment.”
48:46 – “People think that it’s an overnight success. But this is an overnight success 20 years in the making. This is the first business that I’ve ever been a part of that that got to eight figures in revenue.”
How washing synthetic clothes affects oceans
“To be accurate, it’s clothes made with synthetic fabrics — like nylon, polyester and rayon, all essentially plastic derivatives — that are the culprits here. New research published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology shows that synthetic clothes release billions of mircoplastics — teeny bits of plastic smaller than one millimeter — when washed. These microplastics eventually make their way into oceans where they slowly bioaccumulate up the food chain.”
Written by Maureen Nandini Mitra
- “The average residential washing machine uses about 41 gallons of water per load.
- “A clothes dryer is responsible for approximately 6 percent of the average home’s energy use.
- “Commercial washing machines vary widely, using an average of 34.74 thousand gallons of water and up to 910 kWh of electricity per year.
- “Scented liquid laundry detergent and dryer sheets contain hazardous chemicals and emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), two of which are classified as carcinogens by the Environmental Protection Agency.
“When you consider that the average American family washes about 300 loads of laundry per year, the environmental impacts from water use, energy use and hazardous chemicals really add up.”
Number of cases related to laundry detergents packets
“Between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2017, US poison control centers received 72,947 calls related to liquid laundry detergent packet exposures. Most exposures (91.7%) involved children younger than 6 years, and some resulted in serious medical problems, including 2 deaths of children and 6 deaths of adults.”
“This article on Treehugger also draws our attention to the fact that laundry detergents contain APEs that damage the immune system and act as hormone disruptors. Enzymes, bleaches, perfumes and colourants used in chemical detergents are absorbed into our bodies when they come into contact with our skin. Some of these toxic chemicals have even been linked to cancer, allergies and birth defects.”
Written by Charlie Bradley Ross
Benefits of cold washing
“The benefits of cold washing are numerous. One calculation from the cleaning institute, using Energy Star data, estimated that a household could cut its emissions by 864 pounds of carbon per year by washing four out of five loads in cold water.
“Cold water also means fabrics won’t break down as much. That could reduce the amount of microplastics getting into the environment.”
Written by Kyla Mandel and Brad Plumer
Effect of drying clothes
“As for laundry, the most carbon-intensive part of dealing with our dirty clothes is drying them off, due to electricity-gobbling tumble dryers. According to one estimate, drying makes up about 5.8% of residential-sector CO2 emissions in the US. Heating the water for laundry accounts for a further 1.59%, while the actual washing itself makes up 0.9%.”
Amount of microplastics we ingest
According to Anne McNeil, a researcher at the University of Michigan: “The average person is probably getting about five grams of plastic per week into their body from what you eat, what you drink, and what you breath.”
“This is equivalent to eating a credit card every week,” she said.
Written by Jeff St. Clair
Environmental effects of laundry detergents
“Phosphate-containing laundry or dish detergents can react adversely when they finally reach the water table. The nitrogen in these detergents reacts with phosphorus in the water, creating nutrients that stimulate the growth of algae in freshwater. According to Lenntech, a company from the Netherlands, this type of algae uses up the oxygen in the water in a process called eutrophication. Over time, this slowly depletes the oxygen in a body of water, ruining the ecosystem.”
Written by Andrew Krosofsky
Problems with shipping water-based products
Redesigning package to reduce weight and increase shipment density
“Many companies are revising package and product designs to reduce weight and increase shipment density. For instance, some have reformulated such products as laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid, dairy powder, and fruit juice to make them concentrated and physically more compact.
“Supply chain impact: This “don’t ship air, don’t ship water” approach to package and product design helps to reduce shipping weight, size, and materials while maintaining the products’ appeal and convenience for consumers. These changes translate into savings in freight costs, packaging costs, and space utilization.”
Written by Dawn Russell, John J. Coyle, Kusumal Ruamsook, and Evelyn A. Thomchick
Cutting liquid before shipping to cut carbon footprint
“SBT says its bags can travel at one sixth the weight and volume of filled bottles, cans or kegs, eliminating much of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with packaging, shipping and refrigeration. The boxed concentrates also fit into a shipping container more efficiently because they have better pallet density than traditional cylindrical containers (which unavoidably have empty space between them). According to SBT’s founder and chief technology officer Pat Tatera, concentrates thus travel eight times more efficiently than kegs. SBT also claims its beer concentrates can be frozen to extend their shelf life, reducing waste.”
Written by Noah Lederman
Reducing carbon footprint and deliveries through innovative product
“Currently, commercial hand soap was delivered and used in two ways: via a pouch system where 1-litre bags were emptied into dispensers or a refill system where larger 5-litre bottles were used to refill dispensers. In both instances, however, he said there was unnecessary plastic used and water shipped.
“Soap2o instead could deliver 57,600 sachets (each making up around 1-litre of product) on a standard 5-litre standard pallet, drastically reducing the number of deliveries needed, plastic used and ultimately carbon footprint, Hurley said.”
Written by Kacey Culliney