Last month was our first sponsored adventure with the Oceanic Society’s Critter Scholars Program, an initiative that focuses on making it possible for disadvantaged children and teenagers to get up close to and learn about marine wildlife. Everyone involved had an incredible day, and reinforced how proud we are to be involved with this project.
One of the best things about running Koala Eco—aside from working with all the great people who help us develop, market and deliver our products—is having the opportunity to invest in and support organizations that care for and restore nature and also share our purpose of bringing more nature into people’s daily life.
This organization also wanted to share a little more about Koala Eco, and you can read the full interview.
What was the catalyst for creating Koala Eco?
Jessica (Co-Founder, with husband Paul and Adrienne’s twin): my husband Paul and I were living in Perth, Western Australia at the time. We’d always tried to find and use natural remedies and solutions as part of our household routines and lifestyle, simply through personal preference. A health scare (which was just bad luck) with our younger son Arthur when he was a baby really focused our attention on how little choice there actually was on supermarket shelves for safe, non-toxic household cleaning products, and I guess that was the initial spark for the idea.
Then we moved to Sydney, I was looking a business project for us to focus on, and the idea for natural cleaning products came up again. It seemed like a niche we could fill, especially as Australia is blessed with a host of native plants with antibacterial and antiseptic properties. So we decided to co-found a company to make our own cleaning products using 100% essential oils from these incredible natives, like eucalyptus, tea tree, lemon myrtle, rosalina, rosemary, and peppermint.
When did you decide to be a "purpose-driven" business, and what does that mean to you in terms of sustainability and environmental impact?
Jessica: we launched in Australia in 2017. About two years into our business journey, we started to feel that there was much more Koala Eco could achieve, given the growing public awareness of environmental responsibility, sustainability and the emerging research on the healing power of nature. The essential oils in our cleaning and personal care products have immense therapeutic and mood-enhancing benefits, so this opened up a whole new opportunity for us to encourage people to bring nature into their daily lives, for their own mental and physical wellbeing. We were convinced that using our products and being part of the Koala Eco customer community could be a stepping-stone for people to consider their connection with nature, and their personal investment in caring for and protecting our natural environment, as well as for the people they love.
Adrienne (USA MD): the more we love and value something, the more we’re inclined to take care of it, so that’s a wonderful thing for our planet. However, there’s something else rather special that happens from a social perspective when we connect to nature. Research has indicated that when people identify these feelings of connectedness, there’s a link to them experiencing higher perceived empathy for others. So, looking after yourself by connecting with and caring for nature also helps you feel more connected as a community. Sustainable practices and environmental mindfulness become logical and intuitive choices, because they benefit all of us rather than just a few of us.
What were some challenges that came up and how did Koala Eco navigate these obstacles in its mission to promote sustainability?
Jessica: perhaps one of the things we’ve been most proud of achieving is the introduction of 100% post-consumer-recycled (RPET) bottles for all of our products. When we started doing this in 2019, it felt like—and was—an incredible breakthrough for us as a small, self-funded start-up. The RPET option is usually only viable for really big businesses with massive budgets and turnover, but we lobbied hard for change. We now also offer glass, refills and concentrate options.
Adrienne: this wasn’t a challenge exactly, but our launch into the American market earlier this year was a huge breakthrough for Koala Eco and the spread of our sustainability messaging. I’m based in California and obviously Jess and Paul are in Australia, but we knew that any issues could be resolved by staying in touch 24/7, and I think the fact that we’re family really helped with that.
Your eco-friendly practices and unique ingredients make Koala Eco stand out in the market. Can you shed some light on what sets your cleaning products apart from conventional options and how these choices contribute to a greener planet?
Adrienne: I think it’s partly to do with the practical details, and partly to do with our ingredients. So starting with practicalities, Koala Eco offers value at no cost to the planet. Products like the laundry wash, dish wash and hand and body lotions are concentrated, so a little goes a long way. The formulas are powerful so you can be sparing with them, and still get superior results. We also make large sizes, and offer refills. If you buy our products online in bulk, that also gives you more value.
Regarding ingredients, all of our products are natural and non-toxic, biodegradable, and vegan. They’re not tested on animals and are certified allergy-safe. There are no synthetic fragrances, dyes, phosphates, masking agents or sodium lauryl sulfate. But I think what really sets our range apart are the 100% natural essential oils we use. The ‘essence’ of the plant, they’re the highly concentrated compounds secreted in the bark, leaf or fruit. They’re not only amazing at killing bacteria and banishing microbes, they’re also celebrated for their health- and mood-enhancing properties. So the aromas they release mean you’re literally breathing in the healing power of nature.
What are your favorite outdoor activities?
Jessica: Running in the Australian bush.
Adrienne: Hiking in California.
What attracted Koala Eco to collaborate with Oceanic Society, and what excites the brand about the Critter Scholars Program?
Jessica: put simply, it’s a fabulous program, and it completely aligns with Koala Eco’s “more nature, feel better” message. We’re always looking for worthwhile organisations and causes we can support and collaborate with. In Australia, that means sponsoring WWF Australia, and the People & Parks Foundation’s #NaturePact initiative. Worldwide, it means that for every Koala Eco product bought, Koala Eco makes a donation to One Per Cent for Nature.
Adrienne: as a company co-founded by an Australian and an American it makes sense that Koala Eco’s philanthropic as well as business interests involve both continents, especially now that Koala Eco is also established in the States.
Anything else you'd like to share?
Adrienne: Just that Jess and I have two sons apiece, and we’ve been incredibly lucky to bring them up in close proximity to the ocean. We’ve seen how being close to the water and discovering the wonder of marine life has really instilled joy, awe and respect in them, and what we hope will be a lifelong love of the ocean that they’ll pass on to their own families in time. So if Koala Eco can pay it forward by making it possible for more young people to experience a closeness and love for the ocean through the Critter Scholars Program, we know how worthwhile that will be.