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Seven years of bringing a little nature into your daily life

Can you believe Koala Eco has been in business for seven years?

It’s incredible how fast time has gone and how much positive change has happened in people’s awareness of the need to live mindfully and sustainably, even if it’s something simple like choosing not to use toxic cleaning products in our homes. And the benefits of spending time in and close to nature are topics now regularly discussed. 

In the US, seven years traditionally marks the ‘copper’ anniversary, symbolising strength and resilience, while in other countries, wool is the theme, reflecting warmth and security. Those descriptions are surprisingly apt for what we’ve been striving for at Koala Eco these past few years: encouraging people to forge enduring and health-giving relationships with nature, and to choose safe and effective products that offer the assurance of a company that cares about the environment.

In that time, through our use of RPET recycled and recyclable bottles, Koala Eco has avoided over 4 million bottles of new plastic being made. We've won awards for our products, and even Gwyneth Paltrow’s goop and Oprah Winfrey’s O Magazine have given our range a shout-out.

To celebrate our seventh anniversary, we’ve taken a fond look back at the Koala Eco journey and some of the highlights we experienced along the way:

2017 … when it all began

Following two years of careful research and preparation, Jess Bragdon and Paul Davidson officially launched Koala Eco with five products that still remain among our bestsellers: the Natural Multi -Purpose Kitchen and Bathroom Cleaners, Dish Soap, and our Stainless and Glass remedies. The essential oils we used in these launch products are among nature’s botanical superstars: Lemon Myrtle, Mandarin, Eucalyptus and Peppermint.  Initially, all our products were sold online, and each sale triggered a donation to environmental charity One Percent for the Planet. When our social media accounts reached 500 followers we were beyond excited…

2017 was also the year we were invited to re-badge as a ‘dot eco’ company by the Vancouver-based .eco movement, launched by two former United Nations Environment Programme staffers. It’s backed by more than 50 environmental organisations including Conservation International, United Nations Global Compact and WWF. We were—and are—so proud of earning our dot eco status.

2018 … online and also onto shelves!

Our range grew with products like our Natural Fruit and Veg Wash, Floor Cleaner and Room Spray, plus organic bamboo cloths and scrubbing brushes. We achieved a real breakthrough in Asia, retailing our products in Hong Kong, Korea and Taiwan. In Australia, we also began supplying Koala Eco to local stores and groceries: it was the biggest ‘pinch me’ moment to see our products with their beautiful botanical labels lined up on the shelves! Our sons Emerson and Arthur (now aged 13 and 11) were then so little, and I used to tote them around when I visited shops to talk about and stock our products. The boys were brilliant at helping to arrange the products with the labels facing to the front.

2019 … Koala Eco says no to new plastic bottles

A super proud moment! After some determined lobbying of large packaging companies, we succeeded in switching to 100% recycled and recyclable (RPET) bottles for all our products, so Koala Eco would not responsible for any new plastic bottles being made. It felt like—and was—an incredible breakthrough for us as a small, self-funded start-up.

2020 … oh wait, did someone say COVID?  

By now, everyone is deep in the COVID-19 pandemic with its lockdowns and travel restrictions. Responding to need, we accelerated production of a hand and surface sanitiser. If keeping a clean, safe home is as good for mental as for physical health, this was a time when we really noticed how loyal customers remained to the Koala Eco brand, and the ability of our cleaners to kill 99.9% germs and bacteria, without the use of harsh chemicals.

2021 … growth and the healing power of nature

Thankfully—and we know how lucky we are—the pandemic didn't get in the way of Koala Eco’s growth. Paul and Jess reclaimed their home (!) and moved company operations into an office in Sydney’s Rushcutters Bay: a decent distance for Matilda the Aussie Shepherd to enjoy a walk each morning. Our team grew and became truly international: while Koala Eco’s core is Sydney-based we also have talented people working with us as far afield as The Philippines, the States and South America.
We're immensely grateful to have welcomed Claire, our Marketing and eCommerce Director, returning to Sydney from abroad, and Steven, our Sales and Operations Director and longtime friend, into our team.

We started our ‘Hour in Nature’: asking team members to set aside intentional time each week during paid work hours for something connected to the natural world that feels particularly healing, and is not about routine things like exercise. Colleagues could report back with photos and descriptions we discussed as a team and shared on social media: like Carol’s regular walks in Bogotà’s lush Botanical Gardens; Claire’s Blue Mountains adventures; or Paul’s sunset walks in the desert near Tucson, Arizona.  We also started interviewing people we believe genuinely live and breathe a nature-focused lifestyle to get their take on how best to connect with the outdoors, and how to bring the health benefits of the outdoors inside. 

2022 … we can never have enough time in nature … or mentions by Oprah!

This was the year we started to realise another cherished ambition: to set up the manufacture of our products locally in the USA for the USA, (like we do in Australia for Australia and Asia) under the experienced stewardship of Jess’s twin sister Dee. Incredibly, after only a short while, Koala Eco caught the eye of the folks at goop and Oprah’s O Magazine, with our products and gift collections receiving special mentions.

This was also when—with five years under our belt, and a really good understanding of what we’re about—we started communicating Koala Eco’s core purpose: to connect people with nature in their daily lives. Henry David Thoreau got it absolutely right when he wrote ‘We need the tonic of wildness…[w]e can never have enough of nature.’ The aromatic essential oils in our products are not only nature’s superhero antiseptics, they’re also a tonic for body and mind, and the perfect invitation for people think more deeply about the therapeutic benefits of nature. 

To put a bit of money where our mouth is, so to speak, we became Principal Sponsor of People & Parks Foundation #NaturePact initiative in Australia, which encourages Aussies to commit to spending intentional time in nature every day for a month in order to reap the transformative benefits. 

2023 … truly transcontinental 

Early in the year we officially launched our brand in the US, and we’re thrilled to say it’s going well. Back in Australia, we introduced our Stain Spray and Oxygenated Bleach and our Dog Wash with Sweet Marjoram and Rosalina, a particular favourite, especially as our beautiful Matilda was featured in the promotional shots. We’re delighted that these are all products you have loved and awarded 5-star reviews.  

We also expanded our support for worthwhile nature-promoting causes, becoming proud sponsors of the Critter Scholars Program, which offers enriching wildlife experiences to kids and teens from disadvantaged communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. The program organises whale-watching trips and hikes for these kids to learn about nature conservation and healthy oceans. We love the fact that, as a company co-founded by an Australian and an American we can support good causes on both sides of the world. In Australia, that means sponsoring WWF Australia, as well as the People & Parks Foundation’s #NaturePact initiative we mentioned earlier.  

What’s to come in 2024?

Stay tuned. We have some exciting new products on the way, as well as projects to inspire closeness to the natural world. An enduring, daily connection to nature really can start with something as basic as what you use to clean and protect your home. 

We hope we’ve been able to help you have a more meaningful relationship with nature. If you’ve been part of the Koala Eco community for some or all of the last seven years, then join us in celebrating this milestone.

We couldn’t have done it without you. 

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