BY JUSTIN GRAU
A Canadian-based company called Etee caught our attention last month. The startup has been around since 2017 helping households reduce reliance on plastic via their reusable food wraps, reusable cutlery, bar soap and eco straws. They are now expanding their offering with a limited lifetime membership program they are crowdfunding on the Indiegogo platform.
Etee’s campaign is raising funds for what they are calling the “Plastic-Free Club.” If it sounds a bit like something your braggart sister wore a giant badge for in grade school, you would be correct. Except it has a cool millennial twist on it—it is a subscription-based model that ships straight to your door.
Etee’s products are designed to replace household essentials and are marketed as 100% natural, reusable, biodegradable, and plastic-free. Currently on the menu: food wraps, resealable food bags, freezer bags, liquid dish soap with no packaging, luffa dish scrub, dish soap with no packaging, laundry soap, wool dryer balls, stain sticks, plastic-free chew paste (wait, what?), toothbrushes with removable heads, and dental floss. There is a bunch more eco-goodness under development too.
The Problem with Plastic
“As a whitewater kayaker, I began to notice more and more plastic in the water each year and I couldn’t ignore the detrimental impact on our environment and our bodies any longer,” said Etee founder Steve Reble. “Humans manufacture and use 300 million tonnes of plastic each year and only 6% is recycled. Bioplastic isn’t much better because it needs to end up in a commercial compost to ever biodegrade, which it rarely does. Our line eliminates plastic 100% to help consumers make sustainable choices to slow the devastating impact plastic-use has on our earth.”
It isn’t news that single-use plastic sucks. Plastic is an unsustainable material that is slowly choking every aspect of our livelihood. But in case you needed reminding, here are some pretty freaky stats that the company kindly rounded up for us:
- CNN Business reports that 20 million plastic bags go to landfill every day
- ~400 million toothpaste tubes are discarded and end up in landfills every year in the US (globally, 1.5 billion)
- According to National Geographic, 91% of plastic is never recycled
- 100 million plastic utensils are used and thrown in the garbage every day, say the Plastic Polution Coalition
Because plastics do not biodegrade like organic matter (i.e. they can’t be converted by living organisms into useful compounds for life), they end up wreaking havoc on the health of our bodies, wildlife and our planet.
Apparently nearly all of us have traces of the chemicals already in us due to plastic use. Exposure to these chemicals is linked to cancer, birth defects, impaired immunity, infertility, mental disease, endocrine disruption, and other ailments. Plastic poisons our food and water sources. Not to mention it costs billions in damage. Yikes.
Sure, sustainable alternatives exist, but they have yet to go mainstream since too often their cost is double or triple the single-use plastic option. A big part of what Etee is doing is trying to make going green more affordable. They want their products to be available to everyone and since day one, they have been working on ways to eliminate unnecessary costs.
Since members purchase directly from Etee, they skip the middle-man fees that come from non-direct-to-consumer products. Also, by offering multiple products in bulk, Etee is able to reduce the per unit cost, making it more affordable for all members.
The concept of the Plastic-Free Club is that members get first access to new Etee products, and they get everything at wholesale pricing of up to 50% off for life. Life depends on how you look at it. Your life? The company’s life? Only time will tell.
Another perk of joining is that by partnering with large manufacturers who are also trying to reduce their waste, Etee is able to divert high quality materials, like cotton scraps from the fashion industry that would otherwise go to a landfill, into their products.
Etee claims that all of their materials are ethically sourced. This includes USDA Organic ingredients, beeswax, clove & cinnamon essential oils, jojoba oil, coniferous tree resins, soy wax, global organic textile standard certified organic cotton. All dyes are non-toxic and free of heavy metals, AZOs, and formaldehyde found in typical textile dyes.
Etee’s packaging, while sometimes not what you’d expect (check this bottle-free liquid dish soap) is also natural.
“It’s possible to shop, eat, drink, and live without plastic, but it isn’t easy,” says Reble. “With this new membership, we want to make plastic-free products affordable and accessible to everyone and encourage people to repurpose and re-think how we engage with our household products. With the help of backers, we hope to help populations drastically reduce plastic consumption.”
Okay okay, but does this stuff actually work to keep food fresh, home clean, and personal hygiene in check? That is a fair question and truth-be-told we haven’t had the chance to take these for a spin yet.
Regarding the reusable food wraps and resealable bags, which use a blend of essential oils, waxes and tree resins, Reble says that they have combined “preservation techniques from ancient Egypt with modern day science and knowledge to create all-natural products that seal out moisture, air, and external microbes while naturally slowing microbial degradation in your food.” Interesting stuff.
The customer reviews speak for themselves. Most say that the wraps and bags allow for easy and tight sealing around bowls and food, keeping the right stuff in (beneficial nutrients) and letting the wrong stuff out (ethylene gas). They are washable and can be used up to 150 times, which means that a single wrap can last from 4-12 months. When it’s time to toss them out, the products naturally decompose anywhere it ends up—landfill, backyard compost and even the middle of the ocean.
Etee stands for “everything touches everything else.” It is kind of an icky concept, but it makes you think. What’s touching and preserving food should be natural and non-toxic.
Etee believes that 90% of plastic consumption today is unnecessary and it is time to make plastic-free living something that anyone can be a part of. Their goal and mission is to rid the world of single-use plastic and unnecessary plastic consumption. It is a lofty mission, but we commend their move to making plastic-free products more accessible and affordable. You can’t really fault a company that helps people make healthier choices, reduce waste, and make strides to save our planet.
As of today, the campaign has raised $185,599 Canadian (~$140K USD depending on the day). Lifetime memberships are starting on Indiegogo at $60 USD. We are told that post-campaign memberships will go for $49 USD per year and shipping is free within North America.
Etee offers a 90-day guarantee on all products. So, if the quality of the products aren’t up to snuff, or you’d prefer to continue being a heartless single-use plastic-consuming monster, you can get your money back. It’s never been easier to join the plastic-free revolution.