Monday 24 February, 2020

Local store offers bamboo toothbrushes, eco-friendly items

Photo courtesy Harmony Eco Products.

Photo courtesy Harmony Eco Products.

Older generations may remember tales of a twig used as a toothbrush, known in India as a ‘neem stick’ or 'datwan'.

In a curious twist, wooden toothbrushes are making a comeback in an effort to reduce plastic usage.

Plastic toothbrushes contribute to the plastic waste problem as in many cases they cannot be recycled (however, Colgate and Terracycle have since launched a project to mail toothbrushes in for recycling)

Local store Harmony Eco Products recently launched several eco-friendly items including a bamboo toothbrush, in an effort to help people use less single-use plastics.

Chiara Lucie-Smith, founder and owner of Harmony Eco Products, said the store came about after she tried to find these products locally and couldn’t find any.

(Photo courtesy Harmony Eco Products/Facebook)

She began working with medical specialist Dr Kris Sookdeo of SBT Medical to create and distribute eco-friendly products that meet FDA and other required guidelines.

The 28-year-old entrepreneur, who works in the chemical environmental engineering field, said she has a passion for creating a lifestyle that minimises waste and is in harmony with the environment.

That was kind of why we started the store…we wanted people to have that option, not just that it’s available but also that it’s affordable in both the product and packaging. We want to make sure people can trust the products that they use,” she said.

She said she was pleased at the positive feedback on the bamboo toothbrushes as well as the Harmony menstrual cup, both of which are FDA approved.

“I think it’s great that our bamboo toothbrush got so much attention. I think it’s a great product because you don’t have to change anything in your routine, it’s just like using a plastic handled toothbrush but it's biodegradable, it’s just an easier option.”

Lucie-Smith said that although they would have liked for the products to be made locally, they could not find facilities that produce those items here. 

Eco Harmony also offers denttabs, toothpaste tablets for brushing one’s teeth without the plastic tube packaging.

The items are produced overseas however the company also produces locally made products, including natural deodorant, lip balm, and even beeswax cling wrap, among others.

“I’m confident that the products we’re putting out are good products. The feedback has been really great. I think people are glad that there’s finally an option for these types of eco-friendly products,” she said.

Lucie-Smith said she’s hoping to expand the range of items on offer and to spread the word on green living.

“I’m hoping to spend more time on it because I really want to expand the business. Since starting this business I've met so many people who are passionate about the environment, which is very encouraging.”

(The Harmony Eco menstrual cup is made of medical-grade silicone and is FDA approved. The cup is reusable for up to five years and has up to 12 hours wear time for those with an average flow. There are also two sizes. Photo courtesy Eco Harmony Products/Facebook.)

Ending menstrual poverty, saving the environment

Lucie-Smith said the Harmony cup has also been quite popular as it can help cut down on the number of feminine products used every month, as it can be reused for up to five years.

A large part of clean living is about reusing things, and the theme of reusing is to make things cheaper. It might cost more initially when you buy it but you do save in the long run because it’s reusable. It’s also a social solution because it can help stop things like period poverty,” she said.

Other items on offer include dishwashing soap bars, reusable Harmony beeswax wraps for food items, natural deodorant and a locally made lip balm.

Lucie-Smith said although it will take small behavioural changes, it’s entirely possible to change one’s lifestyle into a more environmentally friendly one.

 “I think it’s achievable to live cleanly but it’s something that takes time. It takes time to become aware that there are things you can change. It’s a process. I think it is easy once there are options in place.”

“Sometimes people want to change but they don’t know how. They want to make a quick decision and not have to labour and think too much about it.”

The company is also working on shampoo and conditioner bars as well as other eco-friendly items.

Clean living = easier living

Lucie-Smith said a change in mind-set is needed toward single-plastic usage.

“I think the minimalist movement is painted as a lifestyle where you have to give up things, when in fact you gain more in the long run.

“I think that’s the problem, we usually go for the cheaper thing but we always have to keep buying it.”

“Clean living doesn’t have to mean sacrificing what you like, it’s something that helps the environment and also helps you.

“I completely understand that it’s hard that’s why I want to make sure there are options where people don’t have to change their habits, they can still live their lives in the same way.

“I think it’s an exercise in open-mindedness which is difficult. I think it will take time,” she said.

She added that people need to take charge in order to push the corporate sector toward more environmentally friendly practices.

“There’s the question of whether it’s the person’s responsibility or the company’s responsibility. People will always wait for the company to change it but it will take a really long time for businesses to develop truly compostable containers for dish soap, for example, so it makes sense to go for a redesigned product because we have to move quickly.”

Some of the ways in which one can start a plastic-free life include small habits such as using reusable bags and water bottles, putting aside food waste for composting and using non-plastic products.

The Harmony Eco Products can be found at the following locations:

- SBT Medical, 2 Eastern Main Road, San Juan

- Junckollage at One Yoga in the Oval

- Soul Living, 121 Long Circular Road Maraval

The Harmony Menstrual Cup is also available at: 

- Starlite (all branches) - Maraval, Diego Martin and South Park Mall

- Bhagans Drugs - Price Plaza, C3 and South Park Mall 

For more information on Harmony Eco Products visit them on Facebook: 

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