Mahira Kalim, founder of Spruce
Goal 13: Climate Action

'i want to create a refill revolution'

#TOGETHERBAND ambassador Mahira Kalim explains why she launched Spruce, her own eco-friendly cleaning range 

By EMMA ELMS
3 NOVEMBER 2020

Entrepreneur Mahira Kalim, 36, founder of Spruce, a new eco-friendly cleaning range, shares her journey into a low-waste, plastic-free lifestyle. Mahira lives in London and is married with a son, aged four, and a daughter, aged 18 months.


The inspiration for Spruce first came ten years ago when both my husband and I were suffering from various health issues on and off. We re-evaluated our lifestyle and decided to cut out everything we classed as ‘toxins’ as part of a wider move towards ‘clean’ living. I was keen to purge our kitchen of all plastic products for the sake of the planet and our health. For instance, many people don’t realise that plastic containers leach chemicals when you put them in the microwave.

 

I went on to switch to an organic diet and only using ‘clean’ beauty products. When I had my son in 2016, I realised I had to look at our whole family’s lifestyle in a bid to become plastic-free. I fed him milk from a glass bottle when he was a baby and used bamboo bowls instead of plastic. Whenever we leave the house, he knows to take his aluminium water bottle and if we’re going to a farmer’s market, we’ll all bring our own cutlery from home.


Fighting plastic pollution

After I had my daughter last year, I took things one step further and decided to leave my job in marketing so I could have an even greater, direct impact on the environment as an entrepreneur.

 

In my previous role, I’d worked for major brands exploring ways to address the issue of plastic pollution and how to make their supply chains more sustainable. It was very enlightening and got me thinking about a range of possible solutions to the world’s plastic-waste problem.

 

Despite being eco-conscious, I was still filling recycling bags with lots of plastic bottles each week from everyday items, like cleaning products, that don’t come in plastic-free versions. It sparked the idea to develop my own range of eco-friendly cleaning products, Spruce, which I launched online last month. We sell reusable aluminium bottles for customers to buy once along with concentrated refill packs, which you simply add water to. 


With this format, we are able to lower household single-use plastic waste and massively reduce our carbon footprint by not shipping water. Our refills weigh 140 times less than a typical 500ml cleaning spray. My aim is to move people away from single-use items and create a ‘refill revolution’.

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A sustainable alternative


People are becoming more aware of the plastic pollution pandemic and understand that throwing everything away isn’t the answer. For decades, our recycling waste has been sent to poorer countries, but they often don’t have enough capabilities to manage their own country’s plastic waste let alone ours too. In the UK we think we’re recycling but often the waste ends up being incinerated instead, causing air pollution and further climate damage.

 

The packaging for Spruce refills is made of paper and fully compostable. Everything has been validated by sustainable packaging experts, who confirmed our products are low-impact with a long lifespan. We only use safe food and cosmetic-grade ingredients, along with 100% natural, organic essential oils.

Putting people and planet first


We’re pending B-corporation status meaning we’ve made a legal commitment to put people and the planet over profit. That principle informs every decision we make. 


If you buy two of our products – e.g. the multi-purpose cleaner and the bathroom cleaner - plus 12 refill packs you would save yourself buying the equivalent of 24 bottles of cleaning products. For every order we receive, we match that by removing 1kg of ocean-bound plastic waste (roughly the equivalent of another 24-25 plastic bottles) via our partner Plastic Bank.

 

My whole family has become passionate about leading a sustainable lifestyle – even my four-year-old son gets upset now when he sees plastic bottles lying on the street because he understands that it's bad for the environment.

 

I avoid buying new clothes unless I really need something and always check the label, even for my kids’ clothing, to make sure it doesn’t contain any hidden plastics such as acrylic, nylon etc. I’ve stopped buying fast fashion because if that top costs £5 it means someone somewhere in the chain isn’t getting paid properly.

 

I’ve spent the past 10 years researching environmental issues and I’m still learning something new every day. My ultimate aim is for Spruce to inspire people to adopt a low-waste approach in all areas of their life.


3 changes I'd like to see

1. A REFILL REVOLUTION

For our society to move away from a convenience-driven, throw-away culture and for reusable and refillable products to become the norm.


2. A CARING MINDSET

For everyone to stop exploiting the world’s resources and treating them as our property, without giving anything back to the planet.


3. CONSCIOUS CHOICES

For everyone to become conscious consumers by reading the label and asking questions about the ethical standards of the brands they choose.

Spruce Starter kits above (including an Eternity bottle and refill pack) cost £12 each and individual refills are £3.50 each. Discount available with a regular subscription via the Spruce website.

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