Interview | No Tox Life
The first time we saw No Tox Life’s Dish Washing Block it was love at first sight! We hand wash all of our dishes since we don’t have a dishwasher, and we’re getting kinda fatigued with buying liquid soap. So much plastic, and honestly we never found one that we really loved anyway. We knew immediately that we wanted to collaborate and we’re stoked that they agreed! One of the best parts of starting this business has been the collaborations and friendships that have come about, and it’s a real honor to work with another small Los Angeles business (literally our firing kiln is just down the block!) that has so much integrity and shared values.
This soap is amazing! It’s take a little bit to adjust using a bar soap, but we think it’s totally worth the effort. We still keep a small container of liquid soap around just in case. but honestly we find ourselves looking for it less and less. We also found that the bar soap makes a great stove and sink cleaner too.
We hope you enjoy this interview with No Tox Life co-founder Callie Milford!
Tell us about your start creating vegan, nontoxic products.
My mom Sandee started making bath & body products around 6 years ago after I suggested she make soap as Christmas gifts. She launched the company 5 years ago on Earth Day, and I helped her from the start at farmers markets on the weekend and designing product labels & packaging. We were excited to create natural alternatives for people tired of all of the harsh ingredients, and quickly developed a loyal weekly following at the farmers markets.
I quit my job and joined her full time after about a year and a half, and we've since been refining and improving our product line to include all types of natural home and body basics. Three years ago we opened our retail store in Los Angeles and have expanded our sales to be in small boutiques and indie retailers worldwide.
What are you most passionate about right now?
This year we are super focused on making zero waste products. We see a need for more truly effective plastic free products, and the big companies are not fulfilling it. There is a lot of "eco-washing" with companies talking about the plastic they use is recycled, or how it's fully recyclable plastic.... this is not the solution. We can't keep making new plastic products, over 90% of it is going straight to landfills.
I spoke with one of the managers at the Burbank Recycling Plant in LA and she said they are receiving massive amounts of plastic waste that simply can't be recycled, is contaminated with food or filth, or has no commercial value so they have to pay for it to be taken away. Even glass bottles aren't being treated properly, they are thrown with mixed colors in curbside bins, they break into tiny pieces when picked up, and then you have mixed color glass shards which are a very low-value recycling material. The glass has much more value if the colors are kept separate.
We have a crazy mindset as a society that things need to be "cheap", and the cost of cheap is becoming quite high. Watch Blue Planet 2, Episode 4 on Netflix, and you'll see how our demand for cheap is polluting our environment and killing some of the wild animals we value the most. You'll see the irony of zoos and aquariums selling stuffed plastic toys celebrating our diverse wildlife species.
How did you come to create your Dish Washing Bar?
We wanted to make a palm oil-free dish washing product that actually cut grease. It made the most sense to just do a block form, since the logistics of trying to ship glass bottles of liquid around the world really didn't make sense from a shipping cost and emissions standpoint. Our block is small and compact but very concentrated so even for our international retailers, the carbon footprint is reduced.
It took us months of experimentation to get it right, and the final test was when we were able to clean out an incredibly oily, buttery pot used to make lip balms, and it got it squeaky clean. Our formula is made with coconut cleansers, aloe, and South American soap bark, all of which make it quite gentle on the hands. I usually have a problem with very dry skin from washing dishes and finally can use a product that doesn't irritate!
We have fallen in love with using it to wash our own dishes because it lathers and cleans so perfectly! And it is so nice to ditch the plastic container. Do you have any pro tips for getting the most out of using bar soap instead of liquid for dishes?
Our dish block works best with a sponge, we sell reusable, washable sponges made by a small company in Oregon that can be reused for 1-2 years. Rub the wet sponge on the block to make a nice lather, then lather up your dishes, cleaning as usual, and rinse with warm or hot water. It also works in cold water but you'll get less suds. You can use a coconut husk scrubber (we sell the ones by EcoCoconut) for heavy duty tasks like stuck on food or pots and pans. Store the dish block on a well-draining soap dish (like the one by A Question of Eagles), to extend the life of it.
Each block will replace 3+ bottles of liquid dish soap. We estimate from customer feedback that a single block will last one person who hand washes all dishes about 6 months.
Where can we find you?
In Los Angeles, our retail store is at 3351 Fletcher Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90065. We are between Silverlake, Atwater and Highland Park, right off the 2 Freeway. Our retail store now has a zero waste refill station so you can refill home and body care basics in your own bottles and jars. The beauty of a refill station is you reduce waste not only by bringing your own container and reusing it, you also can purchase as little or as much as you like, so you don't overspend and also don't keep products sitting around the house for years.
Can you share anything new in the works that you're excited about?
We are getting ready to launch our new shampoo and conditioner bars online soon, I've been working on my formulas for about 10 months and getting feedback from many volunteers. I have heard from a lot of our customers who don't like other shampoo bars because they've had a bad experience with another product and I'm hoping to offer something that works well, doesn't irritate the scalp, makes the hair look amazing, has clean scents and lasts for a long time. Shampoo and conditioner bars are REALLY convenient to use and of course don't require plastic packaging so I'd love to make them the norm.
Thank you for your dedication to helping us move into a more sustainable and non toxic way of living!