Here’s an inspiring story of how Tracey, a fire-fighter with debilitating multiple chemical sensitivities overcame her challenges and founded a company which now produces a range of world class, chemical-free cleaning products.
I first met Tracey in 2011 when I was writing the “Go Natural” book.
I was so impressed with the simplicity of her cleaning products that I have actually stopped making my own cleaning recipes and started using hers. I was amazed at how well they actually clean and they are 100% free of toxic chemicals!
Her passion for the environment drives everything that she does. She is an inspiration to me and I hope you will be inspired by her story.
Esther: How did Clean Conscience come about?
Tracey: I started Clean Conscience in 2003 when I was first diagnosed with multiple chemical sensitivities. My body was suffering from chemical overload. I had to cut down on chemical exposure in my everyday life.
I was forced to find alternatives to all the chemical-laden products in and around our home. Up until this point, I had never really read any ingredients labels.
Cleaning products used to give me instant headaches and nausea, a clear indication that something was not good for me. I have since learnt about the poisons contained in these cleaning products.
Frustrated and disappointed with the amount of “greenwashing” being spruiked by so called “companies you can trust”, I turned my attention back to basic ingredients such as baking soda, vinegar, castile soap and essential oils.
I could not believe how well they cleaned and all my symptoms disappeared. With a lot of mixing, blending and testing, I came up with a couple of fantastic products. Wanting to share these with friends and family, I handed them out and waited for the verdict. Reactions were very enthusiastic. Word of mouth spread and Clean Conscience was born.
Esther: How did the company get off the ground?
Tracey: We approached the first health food store about a year after we registered the business. We also did a lot of hard yards attending festivals, fairs and markets around Tasmania. We went to an expo in Melbourne and one of the most respected online eco stores in Australia were keen to stock us. This was our big break. Once they took us on, others followed.
We have slowly and steadily grown since then and in 2008 I left my full time position as a fire-fighter. We now have stockists Australia wide and have also received orders from overseas.
Esther: What were the major obstacles to start with?
Tracey: Probably my biggest obstacle was not having experience in running a business. Dealing with issues like cash flow, account systems, bulk purchasing, manufacturing and pricing represented a big challenge for me in the beginning.
Esther: Tell us about the products you produce under the Clean Conscience brand?
Tracey: Our range of cleaning products includes multi-purpose sprays, liquid soap, creamy cleanser, air freshener, window cleaner, dishwashing liquid and laundry powder. They are all produced locally in Tasmania.
Our laundry powder is the first in the world to be palm-oil free. It is made from certified organic soap nut powder, baking soda, soda ash and eucalyptus oil. It is extremely economical as it only costs 11 cents per wash!
The use of basic and simple ingredients, most of which can be found in your kitchen cupboard, makes us unique compared to all other so-called eco-products in the marketplace. Our products do not have any harmful chemicals, synthetic surfactants, fillers, enzymes or palm oil.
We give our customers the power to make an informed decision by displaying full ingredient disclosure on our labels. We do not hide behind false and misleading words. What you see is what you get….simple, safe and effective cleaning products.
Esther: What is your philosophy when it comes to product development?
Tracey: We believe our ingredients must be safe for humans and the environment. They must not be tested on animals and definitely do not contain palm oil.
We believe less is best, a long list of ingredients does not deliver a better clean. The more ingredients in the bottle, the more will be washed into our environment. Many cleaning products contain fillers to bulk them out, we only use the necessary active ingredients needed to get the job done.
We do not believe in the use of “green chemistry” which is plant derived surfactants used by most “green” cleaning products today. “Plant based” or ingredients derived from plants might have a catchy environmental ring to it and yes those ingredients may have started out as a natural plant but the processing involved to turn it into a cleaning agent is far from environmentally friendly. At the end of the day the finished product is just another synthetic ingredient.
Esther: Where do you obtain your raw ingredients?
Tracey: We source all of our ingredients in Australia except for our soap nut powder which is manufactured in India. They are grown wild without the use of chemical fertilisers, are sustainable, certified organic and fair trade.
Esther: Do you use any preservatives in your products?
Tracey: We do not use any synthetic preservative, instead we use essential oils as the natural preservative system. Our products have a shelf life of 12 to 14 months.
Esther: What is your vision for the future?
Tracey: My vision is to make people more aware and inspire them to make better choices when purchasing truly ‘green products’. “Greenwashing” is so prevalent in today’s market and companies are cashing in on uneducated and misguided consumers with savvy marketing campaigns and claims of so-called ‘natural’ products.
The use of palm oil in cleaning products is dominant and it is the cause of many atrocities such as deforestation, human right issues, live pet trade and the pending extinction of many beautiful species whose homes have been destroyed. I am certain the average person would choose not to support this if they only knew of the destruction caused.
Esther: Who would you say has inspired you the most?
Tracey: My late Grandmother has always been my source of inspiration. She was beautiful, wise and like so many others of her era, she was happy with the simple things in life. She taught me how to clean with baking soda and vinegar. I think she would be very proud of the path I have chosen.
I hope you have enjoyed reading Tracey’s story. She is a living proof of how one can turn a debilitating illness into something that is truly remarkable.
Dr Esther Lok
(NB: Transcript for the full interview can be found in Chapter 8 of the “Go Natural” book)
Disclaimer: All advice may not be construed as medical advice or instruction and is not meant to replace the advice of your medical practitioner. Information has been compiled from the author’s personal experiences and own research into multiple existing public references and previously published scientific studies. While all care is taken, information is not warranted as accurate and The Organics Institute and Dr Esther Lok cannot be held liable for any errors and omissions.