Eco Earth Bar, natural hand-crafted products that don’t cost the Earth.

Eco Earth Bar, natural hand-crafted products that don’t cost the Earth.

Eco Earth Bar is an Eco-conscious, vegan-friendly, all-natural skin and hair care company, based in South Africa. Our products are handcrafted using locally sourced, natural ingredients and are formulated to deeply nourish, hydrate and heal one’s skin, scalp and hair. In efforts to reduce waste and environmental impacts, we do not use any form of plastic packaging to package or ship our products. We aim to supply people with gentle, eco-friendly and natural skin and hair care products while reducing the need for single-use plastics and wasteful packaging materials which end up in landfills or our oceans.

My name is Catherine Killen, CEO of Eco Earth Bar, and I am obsessed with product formulation and using natural ingredients. My journey of creation started back in 2011 when I studied to be a patisserie chef at Capsicum Culinary Studio. I worked in the hospitality industry for four years where I ran the pastry kitchen at a popular airport hotel. As much as I loved conjuring up all sorts of tasty treats, there seemed to be an element of excitement missing in my day-to-day tasks. The wasteful nature of our society has generally been somewhat bothersome to me, especially when I witnessed the amount of food being thrown away daily, just by one hotel group. The knowledge of so much perfectly good food ending up in the trash broke my heart as I passed many hungry and homeless beggars on my commute both to and from work.

 It was at this point that I left the hotel industry in pursuit of something more meaningful, where I could make a real and positive impact on people’s lives. From the first batch of cold process soap that I ever made, I knew that this was what I wanted to do with my life. My eyes lit up and my heart danced as the realization settled in that I could make a genuine difference in the way people operated in and viewed the world we find ourselves in.

In the beginning, as many startup businesses do, we faced many challenges including financial constraints, finding customers and building trust with them without a well-known brand name, and marketing ourselves to build brand awareness. I started working a part-time job at an aromatherapy supplies company where I broadened my knowledge of the oils and butters that I was formulating the products with, although this meant that my time to grow my brand and business was rather limited.

I was running Eco Earth Bar from my kitchen at home so the workspace became a massive hindering factor too, especially because we live in a small eco-home. My dream and vision were strong and eventually, Eco Earth Bar grew big enough for us to build our very own studio!

The Eco Earth Bar studio is a completely eco-friendly log cabin and the vast majority of our equipment was purchased second-hand from thrift shops, secondhand dealers and various community groups. I aspire to teach people that as limited as one’s financial resources may be, nothing is impossible and that there is absolutely nothing wrong with purchasing and owning pre-loved items. I purchased everything that I possibly could secondhand, from the doors and windows to our soap-curing shelves, stock cupboards, kitchen cabinets and countertops, and even the kitchen sink!

I didn’t have a desk to sit at and do any of my admin tasks, so my partner helped me build one out of some sample cabinet doors which I got for free from a furniture company. 

Going zero waste is a huge mindset shift as we have all been raised in a society where being wasteful has been normalized in such a big way. People are constantly upgrading their belongings for bigger and better versions, but very few people actualize the repercussions of this behavior. In a society driven by consumerism, it is inevitable for people to have a wasteful mindset, but it is up to us as individuals to change that! 

In a market saturated with products filled with harmful, toxic and junk ingredients, we strive to educate people about natural ingredients and why they should make the change. The reality is that most people don’t even realize what they are putting into and onto their bodies, and the negative side effects of using these chemical-loaded products. The reality is that these sorts of “beauty” products not only harm you, but they have serious environmental impacts which poison our water supplies and damage ecosystems. 

And that just covers what’s inside the plastic bottles! Did you know that according to National Geographic, only 9% of the plastic that is intended for recycling gets recycled? So what happens to the rest of the plastic? Well, it lands up degrading in our landfills and oceans into tiny micro-plastic particles which leach toxins into the waterways and end up killing off wildlife and marine life. Chemical-based products enrobed in plastic packaging are not sustainable and could actually be doing more harm to your body than good. 

As people grow more conscious of their daily choices and the impact those choices have both on themselves and the environment, the zero waste movement will inevitably gain more and more traction. 

It is difficult to move away from single-use plastic packaging as it has become so accessible and is used everywhere. Eco Earth Bar is an eco-conscious and completely plastic-free brand. We do not use any form of plastic packaging for any of our products. Just by switching from a liquid conditioner to an Eco Earth Bar conditioner bar, you will save approximately four plastic bottles from being dumped into a landfill for every one conditioner bar used. It is a very small change to make with a very large impact! 

The world of getting creative with natural ingredients is exciting and the potential is endless! I have been making natural hair and skin care products for 6 years now.- how time flies! I am so honoured to be a part of and in some instances a catalyst, for people shifting their way of thinking to a more sustainable and less wasteful way of living. 

It has been such a blessing bearing witness to people struggling with skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema finally having that soft, glowing and itch-free skin they have longed for. It is remarkable to watch how well the body responds when one switches from a commercially available detergent-based cleaning product to an all-natural product.

The biggest challenge that we are facing right now is trying to stay competitive in the marketplace with the cost of raw materials and transportation on the rise constantly. There are

also more and more soap and cosmetic companies opening up continuously, although our distinct brand values and product offering differ drastically!

I am so incredibly grateful for all the growth I have experienced through Eco Earth Bar and it has been such a gift to watch Eco Earth Bar grow too. I feel very blessed to be able to apply the knowledge which I had obtained in my cheffing pursuit to my current niche, after all, soap making is very much like baking, just don’t lick the spoon!

To view our products or learn a little more about going zero waste, follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Tiktok (@ecoearthbar) or visit our website www.ecoearthbar.co.za . 

The biggest piece of advice that I can offer for anyone reading this is that if you have a dream, a goal or a vision, go for it! As challenging as it may seem at times, it is not impossible. Believe in your business and believe in your dream. Try not to get disheartened when you share your vision or ideas with people who are close to you and they do not get as enthusiastic or excited about it as you would have hoped them to, or perhaps belittle your ideas. Be your own biggest fan and stay true to your values. Starting your own business is a daunting but unbelievably beautiful experience and if it is something that your heart desires, you are probably the only thing standing in your own way.

Ieva Kubiliute is a psychologist and a sex and relationships advisor and a freelance writer. She's also a consultant to several health and wellness brands. While Ieva specialises in covering wellness topics ranging from fitness and nutrition, to mental wellbeing, sex and relationships and health conditions, she has written across a diverse range of lifestyle topics, including beauty and travel. Career highlights so far include: luxury spa-hopping in Spain and joining an £18k-a-year London gym. Someone’s got to do it! When she’s not typing away at her desk—or interviewing experts and case studies, Ieva winds down with yoga, a good movie and great skincare (affordable of course, there’s little she doesn’t know about budget beauty). Things that bring her endless joy: digital detoxes, oat milk lattes and long country walks (and sometimes jogs).

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