Sustainability 7 Greener, Cleaner Products

Valeria Hinojosa, sustainability influencer and eco-friendly business founder, talks about her favorite natural, plastic-free, nontoxic cleaning tools—all from women-owned brands.

By Valeria Hinojosa Hero Photograph Courtesy Valeria Hinojosa; Inset Photographs by Ted & Chelsea
PUBLISHED 01/17/2023 | 10 MINUTES

After testing thousands of traditional cleaning products, environmental researchers came to the following conclusion: Consumers use and inhale toxic chemicals practically every day. The average household product, for example, contains more than 62 harmful chemicals. These also pollute streams and rivers and damage the ozone layer.

Over the course of my eight-year journey to lead a more sustainable and holistic lifestyle, I discovered many things. If it smells artificial, don’t use it. If the ingredients read like the periodic table, run away. Don’t just follow trends and be blinded by pretty colors; read the labels.

But I get it, sometimes we just don’t have time to do the extra research, and sometimes we just don’t care enough to bother. I, for one, worked in the private banking world for five years—chasing status, money and VIP perks—and didn’t think twice about my impact on the environment or my personal well-being. 

When I finally realized that wasn’t what I wanted, I quit and completely reinvented my life. I became a certified yoga teacher, a sustainability advocate, an eco-traveler and the co-founder 

of a plastic-free CBD brand (Intū Rituals), the co-founder of a zero waste shop in Bolivia (where I was born and raised) and the co-founder of The Yindah Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting forests, indigenous communities and wildlife. 

One major thing I learned? It’s not about being perfect. It’s about finding a balance and making conscious decisions. You don’t need to switch careers or become a vegan-yogi-entrepreneur like me (although I highly recommend it). Your changes can be smaller, like choosing healthier cleaning products for your home, for yourself and for Mother Earth.

Let’s get started! Here are my top seven sustainable goods with biodegradable formulas.

Brand: Blueland

Product: Dish Soap

Price: $20

The average home goes through 30 single-use plastic bottles of dish soap in one year. But with Blueland, you’ll only need one bottle for the rest of your life. A certified B Corporation, Blueland was co-founded by Sarah Paiji Yoo with the goal of reducing single-use plastic waste and using ingredients that are vegan, gluten-free and non-toxic. With the Dish Soap Starter Set, simply put the powder dish soap into the provided “Forever Shaker” and start washing (you don’t even need to add water). What I truly love about this company is that it has diverted over 1 billion plastic bottles from our oceans and landfills. Even the paper package the powder comes in is compostable.

Brand: Kind Laundry

Product: Detergent Sheets

Price: $20.95 for 60 Ocean Breeze sheets

I love when my clothes and towels are fresh and have a lovely aroma. But the problem with most detergents? That scent is too harmful to our health and our planet. This isn’t the case with Kind Laundry, founded by Angie Tran and Bernard Law. Their biodegradable laundry sheets contain no harsh chemicals and provide a refreshing Ocean Breeze perfume made from hypoallergenic ingredients as well as coconut extracts and tea seed oil. Best of all, the packaging is plastic-free, zero-waste—it’s made of recycled cardboard—and small enough to travel with. 

Brand: Supernatural

Product: Cleaners (glass, stainless steel, counters)

Price: $25

The buy one, refill for life non-toxic cleaners from Supernatural come with a reusable glass spray bottle and a concentrate made entirely from plants, minerals and essentials oils that not only serve as powerful cleaners, but also smell amazing. Founded by Suzy Batiz, Supernatural uses botanical ingredients sourced locally in the United States from sustainable farms—think Collodial silver, which has antibacterial properties, and Litsea Cubeba, which smells like citrus and serves as a natural pest repellent. Plus, it uses 100% recyclable packaging and plants two trees for every starter set sold. I love these products because they can make cleaning feel more meditative, like using an essential oil diffuser that also makes your home sparkle.

Brand: Dropps

Product: Dishwasher Pods

Price: $18.75 for 64

While more and more natural cleaning products have been popping up on the supermarket shelves, the plant-based formula of Dropps has won a special place in my dishwasher. Founded by Jonathan and Lenore Propper, a mother-son duo, Dropps not only uses 100% carbon neutral shipping and eco-responsible packaging, but it also partners with Oceana, the largest international advocacy organization focused solely on ocean conservation, and solar company Clearloop to fund the construction of new solar projects. The pods are so easy to use (no more sticky, leaky containers) and use oxygen-based bleaching agents to effectively get rid of stains (no more pre-washing!). 

Brand: Papaya

Product: Reusable Paper Towels

Price: $36 for 4 sheets

If you saw a Papaya towel hanging on the wall, you might mistake it for a work of art or some kind of chic design decor. Aesthetics aside, it’s only when you wet the towel that you appreciate its full versatility. Whether you’re using it to wipe the kitchen counters, clean your bathroom mirrors or for all of your messy kid’s needs, just one of Papaya’s reusable towels replaces up to 17 rolls of paper towels—while saving a lot of trees, too. The unique antibacterial towels are also made from all-natural sources so, when the time eventually comes to replace them after months of use, they can go straight into your compost where they will disintegrate and eventually turn into soil. Yes, they are home-compostable!

Brand: Humble Earth

Product: XL Agave Cleaning Brush

Price: $10.50

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of mushrooms (I take adaptogens and medicinal mushrooms as part of my daily supplementation) but there’s a certain kind of fungi I’d rather not see between my bathroom tiles. When it comes to scrubbing them away, an agave fiber bristle brush from Humble Earth is the perfect tool. An eco-responsible company founded by Veronica Cruz, Humble Earth provides sustainable alternatives for your everyday home needs. From biodegradable and compostable organic brushes and aprons made from 80% upcycled cotton and denim to reclaimed wood spoons and reusable beeswax wraps, Humble Earth has tons of cool products for your home. All shipments are packed in 100% post-consumer recycled boxes and 1% of every purchase benefits the Wildlife Conservation Network.

Brand: Public Goods

Product: Bathroom Cleaner

Price: $6.75

Looking for a bathroom cleaner with a big impact on your grime but a minimal impact on the planet? Then check out the Bathroom Cleaner and Refill Kit from Public Goods, which comes with a simple spray bottle and a concentrated gel made from purified water, coconut-derived ingredients, citric acid and natural oils. While not founded by a woman,  the New York City-based company plants a tree for every new member (in partnership with Eden Reforestation Project) and has a diverse selection of other sustainable products—like tree-free paper towels and all-natural shower essentials in sugarcane-based bioplastic containers—and other cleaning products that are biodegradable and compostable. 

Recipe: DIY Surface Cleaner

For all those souls interested in making their own surface cleaner, here’s a DIY recipe I love making at home. It uses plant-based ingredients that will leave your kitchen spotless and smelling delicious.


Reusable glass spray bottle

Filtered water

Essential oils (I like to use wild orange, cinnamon, frankincense)

Plant-based alcohol made from grapes or Witch Hazel


Fill 2/3 of the bottle with filtered water and add 1/4 cup of plant-based alcohol or Witch Hazel and ten drops of wild orange essential oil, five drops of cinnamon essential oil and five drops of frankincense essential oil. Shake thoroughly and spray on surfaces. Wipe with a reusable towel. 

That’s it!

Valeria Hinojosa is a sustainability influencer, business founder and creator of Water Thru Skin.

Millie content is licensed from Dotdash Meredith, publisher of Millie, Real Simple, InStyle, Investopedia, The Balance and more.


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