Trying to find eco-friendly product alternatives can be a challenge. My wife Laurie and I searched for weeks to find something seemingly so simple: an alternative to plastic-stemmed cotton swabs made with ethically and sustainably-sourced organic cotton.
After researching several options we were finally able to find and test one, and so far it has proven to be a solid product. It is distributed through Amazon, and ships all over the world.
The product is reasonably priced for a premium eco-friendly product at $11.97 USD for a box of 500.
One of our concerns was the durability of the stems, but honestly, they are sturdy and of good quality. The packaging is also made from recycled cardboard, and not wrapped in plastic like other alternatives.
It’s somewhat difficult to find a digital presence for the company, which may be a put-off for some. So far, as of the time this article was posted, I am the only person to leave the company a review. However, the people involved with their Facebook page are responsive and very helpful. Plus, you get a 10% discount on subsequent orders when liking their Facebook page, so it’s worth it.
I asked the Make Eco Choice LTD team to share a few details about Make Eco Choice’s process and their story.
How did you get your start in this industry?
MEC: I think our start was similar to many others. As soon as we realized how much unnecessary waste is created and thrown away every day, we started to think about what we can do about that. We are ordinary people and can’t write the laws for everyone to follow… We decided to go another route and bring the alternative to single-use plastic on the market for customers to decide what to buy and which business to support. Our goal was not only to replace the plastic stick with bamboo but also to use recycled paper for packaging and we are really happy what we achieved. Our packaging can be recycled again or just thrown into a compost bin, but we encourage everyone to recycle it as it may become a new packaging for something else in the future.
How did you end up making a final decision on what materials to use?
MEC: That was easy. No plastic in product or packaging, period. We also used bamboo instead of regular wood or paper for the stick because it doesn’t take long for bamboo to grow up to 91 cm (35 in) per day, which is a much more sustainable source compared to regular paper or wood.
What are some of the challenges you have faced in bringing your product to market?
MEC: One of the biggest challenges was finding the local manufacturers or at least anyone who willing to work with our small quantity orders. Unfortunately, as soon as we told suppliers in North America how many do we need and shared with them that this is our first and test order, we never received a response again.
Where is the product manufactured?
MEC: Because we were ignored in North America but still wanted to provide people with eco-friendly alternatives we looked further. We sent many requests in different countries but we were really surprised by the response we got from China. I know many people in our industry have their own opinion about doing business with Chinese manufacturers, but if you stop living with stereotypes and open your mind you can build great business relationship with like-minded people who is happy to share the same mission.
Where did you source the materials to use in your cotton swab product?
MEC: At the moment all the materials are sourced from China.
What advice would you have for startup entrepreneurs that are trying to launch sustainable products to market?
MEC: For anyone who not only thinks about better tomorrow but wants to create it, we would say – just start and don’t worry about all the obstacles you are going to meet on your way. You’re already doing the right thing just by thinking differently, so good luck with your new beginnings!