This is the third in a mini series chatting to an inspiring bunch of people making a difference in sustainable fashion and conscious living and getting their top tips for shopping ethically and living more responsibly - that we can also adopt one step at a time.
The lovely Jess started the family-owned business Koala Eco with her partner Paul Davidson to create house cleaning products inspired by the fragrances of Australian bush natives like eucalyptus and Lemon myrtle, sans all the highly toxic synthetic fragrances, dyes and chemicals that usually make up our dish wash and our kitchen and bathroom cleaners. They smell amazing and super fresh and I have never been so inspired to clean the house!
Here Jess dishes the dirt (#sorrynotsorry) on how she goes plastic free, shops ethically and a few great reading and Netflix tips to boot!
Koala Eco in a nutshell
Koala Eco was born out of a determination to source “safe, affordable, chemical-free cleaning products that smell amazing—and work”. In particular, we wanted to be able to clean our house without holding our breath and worrying about what was misting down onto our children’s toys and toothbrushes. Our range is free from artificial fragrances, dyes and toxic chemicals, and we use 100% pure Australian essential oils.
What was it that made you conscious of using natural products in the home?
Becoming parents, and then realising the connection between our environment and our health. I came to realise that cleaning our house by filling it with the toxic chemicals found in most cleaners was not actually creating a clean and healthy home. Our connection to nature is a wonderful thing, and I feel it should inform how we think and live, and also how we care for each other and the planet.
Your top three tips to shopping ethically
Buy products that do no harm. ‘Do no harm’ is the medical mantra, but it makes sense for ethical shopping too. I don’t want to buy things that will damage either ourselves, or the environment. It seems like common sense but I am amazed at the toxic stuff out there that people still buy. So buy local and choose seasonal produce whenever possible. Buy (and buy into) things that are recycled, or recyclable and refillable.
Your favourite essential oil
Currently my favourite is pure Australian Lemon Myrtle for its fresh and astringent aroma. But my preference changes every few months. There are so many beautiful essential oils to choose from!
Currently I am pretty enthralled with A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. Also, anything written by my one of my favourite authors: Gabriel Garcia Marquez. One Hundred Years of Solitude is a good one to start with. I read the New York Times every day. I like the New Yorker and The Economist too.
These days it’s Netflix: House of Cards, and I still watch Charlie Rose.
In the shower I keep
Tata Harper Revitalizing Body Oil is very hydrating. Los Poblanos Pinon Bar: it smells incredible. I like baking soda and apple cider vinegar for a hair wash on occasion. Lavett and Chin Hair wash is made with geranium, spearmint, rosemary and black spruce oils. Coconut oil I use for just about everything, even brushing my teeth, and I add baking soda. As a former (adopted) Western Australian I adore anything by WA company Mokosh. I am obsessed with their body lotion and face creams, and anything they make.
On my bedside table
An organic beeswax candle, fresh flowers and a glass of water or wine based on the day of the week. Also my current book Hillybilly Elegy, a fascinating and frightening contemporary US memoir.
It’s got to be Taylor Maid Organic coffee. My twin sister sends me coffee beans from Sonoma Ca. I also am also obsessed with TCHO Chocolate.
Once a month I...
… make sure to have a day to myself to regroup, recharge and rest. Usually it involves the ocean. I’m planning a meditation retreat at Spirit Rock in Marin CA.
In fashion are you a minimalist or a maximalist? Why?
Minimalist. I would rather buy a few very well made pieces that last. I don’t like clutter. I actually enjoy moving so I can get rid of stuff… my children and husband live in fear of my purges. I like clean lines and well-made things.
Top tip to go plastic free/latest habit you made/changed to go plastic free.
Keeping cloth bags in my car for grocery shopping or any shopping so I always have them and never have to rely on store bags. Avoiding bottles water and bringing my own reusable glass or metal water bottle. Using stainless steel containers for lunches and leftovers etc. My children know to never use straws!
You can follow Jess on Instagram at @koalacoeco
Shop their products www.koala.eco