A review of Seedling by Grove paper products! Scratchy or soft, strong or thin? How do the products work and is it worth signing up for the subscription? My thoughts on Grove Collaborative below! (Part 1 of a 2 part series about our move to a more sustainable household)
The news on waste is not good, guys. If you weren't aware, very few of our recyclables are actually being recycled anymore. Previously, the vast majority were shipped overseas. But the market has changed, and it's less profitable for recycling companies now. So those countries are refusing our barges full of waste and they're being turned around at sea. Recycling companies here in the US are closing, and many cities are doing away with their curbside recycling program. The sad reality is that even if yours hasn't, most of what you painstakingly sort into that blue bin, with the best of intentions, will end up in the landfill anyway. We can no longer feel good about just relying on recycling being our personal answer to doing better for the environment. Sustainability of the products we use, and generating less waste, are the two ways we can actually make a difference. So this is part 1 of how we are making those changes in our family. Part 2 will give you information on the products we use to replace plastic bags, lunch bags and plastic wrap!
In my quest for our family contribute to less waste, finding sustainable paper products became really important to me. I'm using less paper towels, and more washable cloths, but there will always be a need in my household for regular, disposable, paper towels. Same with toilet paper and tissues. If you're a family cloth type household, I salute you. But we definitely are not. So the compromise for me is at least finding more sustainable versions of those items that we do need to use.
There are a few on the market but I stumbled on Seedling by Grove products, and decided to give them a go. Subscription based products typically turn me off (and I think you can order them without the subscription option as well! But then you miss out on the really cool freebie deals!) but as a busy mom, the less thought I need to put into something the better. And I'll tell you all about how to make the subscription portion work for you, a little later on.
The Seedling products are 100% tree free, which I love! They use fast growing bamboo and sugar cane, AND they contribute a portion of all of the sales of the Seedling products towards planting trees across the US. I feel so much less guilty when reaching for that paper towel, or tissue, when I'm using these products. If you've used recycled or sustainable paper products before, you probably have the same question I did.... which is how do they actually work? Do they fall apart before you can actually use them? Will your nose end up raw because the tissues feel like sandpaper? I'm going to be real with you (would you expect otherwise?) The tissues do not feel like super plush, soft, lotion filled tissues. If you have one of those colds where you're blowing your nose every 5 seconds, you're going to be hurting by the end of the day. But, keep a box of that super soft plush stuff in the back of the cabinet for those days! It doesn't have to be all or nothing. If you use these for every day sneezes or runny noses, these will totally do the job. Same with the paper towel. For spills and light cleaning, they are definitely acceptable. I try to use the awesome microfiber cloths that I got for free with my first order, for cleaning windows and wiping down surfaces. But for the lighter jobs, or for spills, the paper towels totally fit the bill. And because they're not the super strong, washable type, you'll reach for them less and use fabric options more...which is really the goal, right? I want to have them for emergencies, or things like bacon grease or pet messes, and these are perfect for that. The toilet paper, is the best substitution, in my opinion. It isn't the plushest (but personally, those kind drive me crazy anyway) but it's perfectly comfortable. It is soft enough and strong enough to do the job. It's 2 ply, and doesn't feel anything like that super rough 1-ply recycled brand out there.
Price wise, I also think they're all really affordable replacements as well! I feel like they're all very comparable to the other products we were buying from our local store, so it's not costing me any more to use more sustainable, earth-friendly options. I did go ahead and trial the subscription, which means that the orders ship for free. They also ship really quickly, which is important when you have realized too late that you're almost out of toilet paper.
I'll summarize some of the other items that I've really liked, and then let you know anything I don't, below!
~There is a 60-Day trial period for the membership! This is the longest trial period I've ever seen. Signing up for the trial gets you the promotional freebies, but you have lots of time after that to decide if Grove is going to work for you or not. The freebies I got (a cleaning set with caddy, spray bottle, cleaning concentrates, microfiber cloths, and sponges) was well worth the $19.99 yearly fee so I chose to just keep it the subscription, rather than pay individually (just $2.99 though!) per shipment. They also have the easiest customer interface I've ever seen as far as subscriptions go, and it's honestly so easy to login and change your ship date if you aren't ready for restocks yet. Plus they do send out at least 2 emails before the shipment, so you don't forget! As I mentioned, I typically hate the "gimmick" of subscription type services. However, because of the perks and the convenience they provide with it, it doesn't feel pushy to me at all!
~ If you choose, the per-shipment based fee is super low and also carbon offset!
~ The cleaning concentrates work really well, and are super low waste! The glass cleaner is my new favorite (I was just using a microfiber and water previously). It works SO well, is streak free, no funky odors and works just amazingly with the microfiber cloth they sent me. I just ordered a replacement because it's definitely my most used cleaning product now.
~ The 100% Recycled Trash Bags! I was honestly so excited to try these. I hate the idea of throwing away MORE plastic waste, just for garbage. These are 100% recycled plastic, just as it says. They come in NO packaging, and they have a partnership to remove waste from American rivers when these are sold! Score! These are not a perfect replacement for your super-strong hefty bag. They do tear or rip if you aren't careful, and the drawstrings on my batch have issues being fused to the seam... but I'm on my 4th bag and haven't had a spill yet (even with coffee grounds, food waste, etc) and it's easy enough to work around the drawstring issue. I'm going to try the wave top next, to see if that makes it easier to fill all the way and still close. I'd say I'm using more of these, to account for not being able to stuff it full like a stronger, stretchy bag, but given the benefits, and the low price-point, I'm ok with that!
~ The Kids Foaming Hand Soap starter kit pictured above. It's super cute, and comes with enough soap for about 3 refills (which also last forever cause foam!). The Grove products all seem to be fairly safe, and without a bunch of yucky chemical fragrances added, as far as I can tell. I like all of their hand soaps and cleaning products so far!
To be really honest, there isn't a lot of bad! I wish they used smaller boxes for packing shipments, to even lessen the paper waste, but that's not a huge issue. I wish they packed their sustainable toilet paper in something other than plastic, but it's thin and probably how they ensure it arrives undamaged, so I'm sort of ok with that too.
The biggest thing I would point out to you is that they do carry products guilty of Greenwashing. Greenwashing, if you don't know, is when products pretend to be 'green' or safe, with the packaging and marketing, when in reality it's still just full of nasty, old synthetic fragrance and unsafe ingredients. If safe cleaning and personal products are important for you, I would highly recommend checking out any of the 3rd party brands on the EWG Skin Deep database to see how they rate as far as the safety of their ingredients. Personally, I don't use Mrs. Meyers brand for that reason. But you do you!
At the risk of sounding like a cheesy ad, there isn't a better way to overhaul your home than with a bunch of free stuff, that actually works, that is shipped straight to your door! (plus they write cute little thank you notes on the outside of the boxes. I love little personal touches like that from companies!) So give the starter kit a try, and see if you end up loving Grove Collaborative as much as I do!
<--- click here to get the info on the Free Home Kit (this is the promotion with the glass cleaner, spray bottle and some of the paper products! This is the one I'd recommend!)