Endocrine disrupting chemicals have been linked with diseases such as endometriosis, PCOS, thyroid, obesity and cancer. Host Amelia Phillips and co-founder of Pleasant State Ami Bateman discuss the major chemicals to avoid, natural cleaning products that work and what it takes to launch a for purpose business.
About the guest:
Ami Bateman is the co-founder of Pleasant State, which are non-toxic, zero waste dissolvable cleaning bars. Ami won the 2021 Sunshine Coast Sustainable Business Woman of the Year award, with Pleasant State winning the Sunshine Coast Small Business of the Year and Silver in the Clean and Conscious Awards. Pleasant State was also one of five successful SheEO ventures.
Pleasant State Cleaning Products – https://www.pleasantstate.com/
Pleasant State Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/pleasantstate/
Simply Clean – laundry https://www.simplyclean.com.au/laundry/
Hudson – Laundry https://hudstonehome.com/
Research on impact of EDCs on health – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2726844/
Below is an unedited transcript of the podcast episode:
One of the downsides of having a husband that shares the domestic load is the disagreements over household cleaning products. I watch him with the full strength cleaning products, spraying and wiping the kitchen island. As my kids sit there inhaling these chemicals, I have visions of my daughter’s ovaries squealing.
But he says we’re living in an era of so many illnesses and covid. He’s doing us a favor by killing all these germs that my silly, expensive, natural products won’t. It’s one of the many ongoing. That we have,
this is healthy. Her with Amelia Phillips, if you like me, are on a quest to reduce the toxic load our kids are exposed to, but are also time poor on a budget and just confused by all the mixed messaging. Then I have the woman for. Amy Bateman is the co-founder of Pleasant State, which are non-toxic, zero waste dissolvable cleaning bars, think Baracka, but for cleaning, and they actually work.
I’ve been using them. They have a multipurpose spray, a bathroom spray, a glass cleaning spray, as well as a hand wash and dishwash detergent. And they all come in these beautifully designed, reusable glass spray bottle. Amy and her business partner, Sean must be doing something right As in 2021, Amy won the Sunshine Coast Sustainable Business Woman of the Year Award with Pleasant State winning the Sunshine Coast Small Business of the Year award.
And Silva in the Clean and Conscious Awards. Pleasant State was also one of five successful She ventures. Amy, thank you so much for joining us on Healthy Herd Today to help us reduce our toxic load at home. Thanks, Amelia. I’m very excited to be here speaking to you and your. What made you take an interest in non-toxic cleaning products in late 2019?
I’d been suffering from daily chronic headaches for about two years, which I’m sure you can all imagine was a bit debilitating and extremely depressing. And I’d started working with a, a doctor, sort of an integrative doctor to look at what might be causing that. And in my journey to improving my health, I had to start eradicating a whole lot of toxins from my home.
In fact, indoor pollution is a significant health issue facing many, many people across the globe. And so as part of that journey, cleaning products was actually a category in my home that was really difficult to address and remove toxins. In addition to my, I guess my greeny background, I started to look for a better alternative that didn’t involve plastic or toxins and just couldn’t find anything in Australia, so decided to go and make something.
It amazes me that in this era, there just aren’t more of those products available and that we still are living with so much toxic load. Let’s talk about EDCs. Firstly, what are they? So EDC stands for endocrine disrupting chemicals. So our endocrine system is responsible for regulating our hormones. So simply put, EDCs are chemicals that have an impact on your H hormones by either interfering with the production of a particular hormone or removing that hormone from the body completely.
EDCs affect male and female reproduction, breast development, prorate and breast cancer, uh, amongst other things including your thyroid and metabolism, and can impact obesity. So, I mean, it’s amazing to think like EDCs can have an impact if anyone’s got any thyroid conditions, endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndromes.
I mean, these are all over and above the cancers. These are all diseases that we are seeing a huge rise in at the moment, but it’s very hard if someone has one of those diseases. It’s very hard to pinpoint and go, Well, EDCs cause this. The other challenge, I think, is that they are everywhere, right? Carpet, Teflon, cleaning products.
So let’s start with what the main EDCs are, because if you start to, if you look at everything, you’d never leave the house. In fact, even if you don’t leave the house, you’re still exposed to EDCs. What are the main EDCs that we need to look out for in cleaning products? Specif. So my partner, who’s now a chemist in Pleasant State, and I had actually just wrote a paper, uh, or an article online for this.
So we touched on three key ones and, and like you Amelia, I think it’s important to not overburden people with everything, but focus on a few core ones. The first of the three are BPAs, which I think most people would be familiar with, that that’s a chemical that’s used in the lining of packing. The BPA can actually leech into your cleaning products, which is then absorbed as you use those products, whether through your skin or you inhale it.
That’s why we have a, a strong preference for glass cleaning bottles. Aluminum is also another option. So you, you’ll be doing yourself and, and the planet of favor in choosing alternative packaging for your cleaning products. The second is Trico. It’s an antibacterial, antifungal agent, which is added to cleaning products.
It’s actually been banned in the US for use in hand soaps. It’s not banned in Australia now. Is that right? And is correct? Oh, interesting. And would it be actually listed on the ingredients of the product? Yes, it is. But often it, it has a really complex chemical name and so it would, I’m not gonna say it on this, on this podcast cause I think that would be difficult for people to replicate, but if you look up Triclose sand, so T I C L O S A N, you can actually find their chemical.
So it’s something to look out for. Yeah. It’s believed that these contribute to antibiotic resistance and obviously disrupt hormone. Third would be folates. So these are typically found in any products that use fragrance and name it as fragrance or perfume. Uh, their purpose is to make the fragrance last longer and, and these folates, they’re absorbed through the skin or via inhalation, and they can accumulate over time, which can lead to serious chronic illness in the future.
And in fact, our belief is that this is actually what played a major role in my personal circumstance, which was my daily headache. Why do you think that satellites played that role? Yeah, really good question. What I actually noticed is, as I used cleaning products in my home, even if they had the name organic or natural in them, I’d use it in my home and my headaches would escalate to a migraine.
And I started to really explore that and I would contact the companies and ask them if other people had the same experience, cuz I couldn’t work out what was going on. Now I notice even if someone in my team or I’m, I’m in a car with someone using perfu. That’s artificial perfume. I will get an instant headache.
So this continues to be a problem for me. Isn’t that interesting? You say that products that contain the word antibacterial can have harming EDCs, but given the world of covid and the constant sicknesses out there, how do we walk that fine line of eliminating the really harmful germs, but also reducing our toxic load?
Yeah, this is a really interesting discussion point, and it’s one that myself and my team speak frequently about with both our chemist and his daughter, who’s actually a microbiologist. So what we tend to discuss is the fact that not all bacteria is actually bad. And we know this to be true because we talk about good bacteria in our gut.
Yeah. Getting your hands dirty. Getting the kids out in the garden. Yeah. Dirt under their nails. Exactly. And we have good, good gut bacteria and bad gut bacteria. Now the issue with antibacterials and antifungals is that they’re killing off everything. And in your home, you actually need an a good ecosystem of a combination of good bacteria.
What this microcosm does is it actually prevents super bug. From proliferating and, and we’re probably all heard about Superbus and how they actually prevent antibiotics from working, which when you need those antibiotics, that’s obviously extremely problematic. And this is that idea that if we’re using these antibacterial chemicals that are just blasting out the few bugs that do remain, develop such a strong resistance to them, that they essentially become those super bugs.
So we’re. Like breeding the super bug out there by having such harmful antibacterial chemicals out there. But then at the same time, my kids have just had gastro and I’m like, Hand sanitizer wash your hand. I don’t want ’em to catch it again. So it really is a challenge. Our position on this is very similar to the World Health Organization and the cdc, which is when you do have a case of illness in your home.
So say you do have Covid or you do have gastro, there is a time and a place for these antibacterial agents and that that’s the time. So who in cdc? Talk about in everyday life when you don’t have such situations in your home using surfactant cleaners. So the pleasant state range of cleaners use surfactants, and so they’re perfectly fine day to day.
But when you do need to introduce an antibacterial, you do that in combination with a surfactant cleaner. And can you explain what surfactant cleaners. So Factums, uh, just like soaps that they help you to remove grease crime and bacteria just through their properties. They help lift the grease crime and the bacteria, but they don’t necessarily have antibacterial properties.
What about laundry detergent? I always think about laundry detergent that sits on our skin and on our kids’ skin all day, and then they’re sleeping, their faces are pressed up against the pillow slips. Are there other ingredients we should be avoiding in those? Yeah, again, there’s a few that I’ll touch upon so we don’t overwhelm everyone, but I’ll go back to fragrance.
I know we talked about that, but that is a really big one, and often fragrances are used to mask the smell of even nastier chemical. I often walk up and down Mount Coolum and it’s really weird. I can actually smell the laundry product that people are using on their clothes as they pass me. Oh, I can too.
You can. There you. Can you? Yes, I know exactly what you mean. I wondered whether I had like this super sonic smell, but particularly when people walk past me, you just get this smell and it’s often a chemical smell. As opposed to their own personal smell, which I mean, I don’t know which is worse, but yes, I’m hearing you on this one.
Well, I think the fragrance is worse definitely for their health. And yours. Yes. But you, you’re probably, because you’re so conscious about all of these things, you’d be really sensitive to these folates and fragrances. Now, the second would be your sulfates. So these are anything like sodium laurel sulfate, sodium Lara sulfate.
You’ll see often products will say sulfate free. These are known irritants and sensitizers, so they can irritate your eyes, your ears, your lungs, and you don’t want those chemicals on your body. Long term, be really careful. Some of the novels, the factums or um, I guess sulfates, they’ll actually be using coconut derived ingredients, but they’re still considered sulfate.
So look out for those pegs. Pegs, they’re made from petrochemicals. These can often be contaminated with carcinogens throughout their manufacturing process. Again, the quality of the ingredients often going into chemicals is quite important. Pigs are one that are known if, if the quality of that is not controlled properly, definitely they can become contaminants and would it say pegs on the ingredients or they don’t have to declare that?
That’s a really interesting conversation again. This entire sector actually, you don’t have to disclose what ingredients you’re using on cleaning products at all. So you, you might actually have products in your home that have no ingredients listed. Pigs have a number of different names, so again, for the audience, I’d say look up what are pegs on some of the common names.
But you can also speak with the brand and understand, well if they do have, where are those ingredients coming from, and do they know that they actually don’t have those contaminants in them in the manufacturing process? So what do you use someone who is very sensitive to these EDCs? What are you doing in your laundry at the moment?
I spend a lot of time finding brands that obviously live up to my non-toxic standards. I was using one, but then found, unfortunately they’re using sls. There are a couple of brands that I look to now as leaders. They would be simply clean, so, If, if the product we’re not making those products, so Simply Clean is one that I really trust.
Another that I have started using is Hudson. I have a constant fight with my husband who says natural non-toxic products don’t work. And I am pleased to say that I’ve tried yours cuz I have tried other non-toxic products and not been very impressed. But I tried yours and I also gave to a friend who’s a commercial cleaner.
I figure she’s a much better cleaner than I am, and she gave me the thumbs up for your products as. So what was your formulation and testing process like to ensure that your products actually do work? Well, first and foremost, we had to find a chemist who actually knew what they were doing, and we’re really proud to say we’re working with one of Australia’s best chemists.
He has over 40 years of experience. Formulating cleaning chemicals. If there’s anyone that knows how to make an effective cleaner, it’s definitely Wayne, our chemist. So I think our customers can definitely rely on his knowledge and expertise there. However, I have extremely high standards, not just in terms of efficacy, but also the non-toxic element and definitely the environmental element as well.
So we, we do extensive testing in our homes as a team before we even consider launching a product to customers. And then we follow that up with actual customer testing. So we’ll, we’ll ask a hundred to 200 Australians to put their hand up to actually test our products before we launch it more broadly.
And we get really interesting insights to understand does our product perform just as well as their existing cleaning products? And then how does it perform in terms. Its smell. Its environmental benefits. Yeah, smells great. I love the smell. I love it. It smells natural. Unlike the other ones, you can really smell the chemicals.
Your smells really natural and lovely. Cost is also a factor, right? I went to Woos and I found that they had only one natural surface cleaner, uh, that blew my mind. Woolworth’s one natural surface cleaner, and in their ingredients list. Interestingly, even though it was all marketed as organic and natural was the word.
Fragrance. However, this particular organic cleaning product sat at $5 50 for the same size, I think 500 mil maybe if my memory serves me. And your refills are $8 50. And just for our listeners, if you imagine the refills come in, these little cylindrical, very thin, cylindrical shapes are very small, and you drop them into 500 mils of water and then they bubble away.
It looks. So your refills are eight 50, the organic one at Wooley’s is five 50. Why are natural products always more expensive and is it worth it? Yeah, great question. I will say, I wonder if that organic product that you’re referring to is the same one that gave me my migraines. Around the price. Oh, I don’t wanna bore everyone with my economics, but yeah.
In my studies we learn about the concept of negative externalities. So this is the price that the environment, community, or we pay for things that are not priced into products. So if, if we take that product that you were talking about, most of it’s water. That’s why we can provide you the actives. So we’re shipping around that water that’s contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.
Even that in and of itself, You think of the load on the environment, the cost of shipping when shipping’s so expensive, you guys are shipping these really small packets that are smaller than a Muley bar, as opposed to a 500 mill plastic bottle with a spray gun on the top of it. Surely that. Economically is such a great saving for the environment, for the shipping costs, et cetera.
I think that’s a really important point. Correct. 97% transport emission savings, in fact, from purchasing our bars versus a fully diluted bottle. Yeah, so you’ve got the, the impact to the environment, the plastic epidemic that has impacts on the environment and also our health from a microplastic perspective.
Then, you know, obviously all the chemicals, the C S I R O things. Indoor air pollution costs Australia 12 billion per year in dealing with the health impacts. The point is, at some point a cost is born by someone, whether that’s you, your family, our community, or the environment. So what we’ve done at Pleasant State is we’ve worked out how do we reduce that cost and bear that now by making better choices about our bottles, right?
The packaging that we put our bars in. So it’s a home compostable wrapper that we use. So zero. And even the imports are all plant derived. They’re not pet to a chemical derived, So home compostable, meaning you could literally put that little packet smaller than a muley bar in your compost. Yep. Your home compost system.
No way. Yes. And it breaks down in six months. So it’s certified as home compostable. Oh my gosh. Go you. Yeah. And worm food. And if you think that wrapper actually costs as much as an equivalent tablet that we couldn’t purchase from. So just add water, tablet. So we’ve made all of these choices and that that comes with a cost impact now so that it’s not born by someone else later.
What I will say though is if you purchase our bars on subscription, they work out to be $6 37 a bar. So actually, if you compare that to what you’re purchasing, the supermarket, it’s not. That’s much more expensive. Well, even the five 50 to eight 50, it’s $3, you know. How long does it take you to use a 500 mil bottle?
I mean, in the whole scheme of things, I’ll do 20 times that on a online shopping spree after a few glasses of wine. So . Yeah, and if you think you’re probably buying a coffee, Every day, right, for $5 50 and our product. For many people that one bottle might last them six months. What about some other ways to reduce or avoid EDCs in our home over and above choosing our products carefully.
Are there any other quick hacks that we can just go and help to avoid it besides holding our breath and not breathing? Yeah, you touched on a few earlier, Amelia, actually. So when, When I was embarking on that journey of eradicating toxin to my home to. The indoor air pollution, cuz a lot of the volatile organic compounds definitely impact or ar EDCs.
So look at what are the things that are coming in contact with your skin. So look at your personal care, the ingredients and the packaging. The moisturizers you use. Exactly. The soaps, all that. Yep. Okay. Yeah. Even your perfume. Is it using artificial ingredients? Most likely. I’ve even just started, if I do, I’ve got a.
Older perfumes that I love that I know would be terrible, but I just spray them on my clothes at least. Um, I used to spray it right on my chest on the skin, but I’m just now spraying it on my clothes instead. And don’t forget the inhalation piece. I think that’s a bit that we forget and that’s why Yeah.
Food we’ve considered cuz we consume it directly. The beauty products, we put it directly in our skin, but we forget the things that we’re inhaling, which is why I think cleaning chemicals have been disregarded for some time. But that’s a really important area. BPA free cookware and storage containers.
You talked about telon, So I had to go through a process of really changing. Products that I used to cook, which is so annoying because as someone who’s very health conscious and doesn’t want to cook with too much oil, having to not use Teflon. But actually I did another EDC episode, oh gosh, it was probably 18 months ago with amazing professor Catherine Samaras, and I said to her like, If you just had to take two things away, what would they be?
And she said, Plastic bottles and tefl. Which broke my heart. I love Teflon. My partner, he purchased a cast iron pan and he, he manages or looks after that really carefully and it’s, it’s fantastic actually. Once, yeah, once you get that ride and you, you don’t have to use too much oil, but you’re right. Like these things take a bit of investment.
The others you touched upon at carpets. Curtains, mattresses, pillows, paint. So if you are going through renovations, it would be really important to start to consider what choices you’re making in terms of the products or inputs you’re putting into your home. And I even just like the idea of just reducing the amount of all those products that we use because we love the smell of them.
I used to love putting this centered tissue in the dryer to give my clothes that lovely smell. I’ve. Peel all of that back. Now we use essential oils. As you mentioned, you quite like the smell of our product, so essential oils, they’re completely natural. They’re really beautiful, and people will actually find over time that they’ll have a strong preference for natural fragrance to synthetic.
Do you know what I love doing? This is a great hack that my mom taught me in the vent, in your vacuum. Pop a couple of drops. I love lavender, but you can do lemon grass or bergamont eucalyptus, pop a couple of drops in the air vent where the exhaust, where the hot air comes out of the back of your vacuum, and when you clean and your house smells beautiful.
What has it been like building a B certified sustainable brand during a covid epidemic? Yeah, so we’re proudly the first Australian B Corp certified cleaning brand, which means we meet the highest standards when it comes to environmental social governance metrics, which is exciting. Yes, and we’ve done that all during a pandemic.
I would say definitely a rollercoaster, but I think building any business is like that. We’ve just had to deal with a lot more uncertainty and unknowns, which actually for me as a problem solver is often quite exciting cuz I don’t like things being the same. But it’s also presented lots of opportunity and in fact, for me personally, having this brand that is really optimistic and provides hope to people that we can make a differe.
Has actually been really, I guess, critical in helping me maintain my mental health through quite a difficult time. So I, I’d say actually, yeah, the idea for Pleasant State and being able to build that with my team has been a bit of a life raft in, in these uncertain times. Absolutely. I mean, my hat goes off to you guys.
You have created such a great brand that not only has a product that works, that looks beautiful, but you’ve also got this great for purpose value aligned. Business that is just so refreshing and you must be doing something right. All those amazing awards. So keep at it, my friend . But I do just wanna wrap up finally for a mom listening.
Okay. Let’s face it. Basically me , who would love to view household cleaning as self-care. What is one way that she can reframe her attitude towards. Yeah, I would say like you make decisions in other areas of your life, particularly personal care or clothing, be really considered in what you are buying when it comes to your cleaning product.
So does it smell great? Are the ingredients good for you and your family? Does it look beautiful? Like has design actually been considered in the process? And then when you do. Just be mindful and know that there are significant mental health benefits to having a healthy orderly home. I love that idea of home care being a form of self care.
Amy, thank you so much for today. Thank you.