New mother Sarah Paiji Yoo was deeply disturbed by the level of microplastics in the water she used for baby formula – so in 2018 she founded Blueland, a start-up with an eco-friendly goal of reducing microplastic levels in everyday items.
In 2011, as Yoo was weaning her first child from breastmilk to baby formula, she learned of the troubling amount of microplastics found in tap water and bottled water. She became concerned about giving the formula to her son, she told American Express in their Art of the Pivot series, and began to live a reduced-plastic lifestyle. However, she felt empowered to reduce the amount of microplastics found in water by founding a startup that helps eliminate excessive plastic containers for household products such as cleaners, lotions, toothpastes, and more. Blueland now offers cleaning supplies in the form of just-add-water tablets and Forever Bottles, so consumers can break the habit of buying single-use plastic bottles.
“I would love for Blueland to grow into a global company with products across a range of categories like personal care, beauty, and possibly even packaged food and beverages,” Yoo said. “We imagine there one day being a Blueland home filled with beautiful reusable containers that are convenient and affordable.”
To build her startup, Yoo began by cold-pinging chemists on LinkedIn. After speaking to more than 50 manufacturers, she found partners that wouldn’t compromise her vision. Rather than using antibacterial elements or disinfectants in their soaps, they use a greener option called surfactants that cleanse without harsh chemicals. According to Blueland’s website, they’ve diverted almost two million single-use plastic bottles from landfills and oceans and saved nearly 11 million square feet of plastic packaging. As a Certified B corporation, they participate in carbon-neutral shipping, audit their water and energy usage, and use eco-friendly packaging.