At the Clean Crate Company, we are on a continual quest to source Canadian brands that are doing things right in the world of eco-friendly, non toxic home care products. When we discovered Elva's All Naturals, we were immediately impressed; not only with their witty and 'in your face' marketing or their family run, Canadian operation, but with the quality and innovation of their products.
Their unique product lineup and their refreshingly strict values to develop the cleanest products possible, has quickly made them a Clean Crate subscriber favourite in their seasonal deliveries. We've recently added 3 of their top selling products to our Add-On Shop, with more coming soon!
I recently sat down with the Founder and CEO of Elva's, Kirsten Pelchat, to ask her a few key question about their brand. Her answers are thoughtful and education and worth a full read!
What inspired you to create the Elva's line of products?
Well, it definitely started when I worked for Greenpeace as a teenager and wrote a book called “How to Detoxify Your Personal Environment”. It was basically a DIY natural products book, based on pioneer recipes. I remember climbing a rickety wood ladder (think Harry Potter!) to pull old pioneer books down from the archives of Canada’s oldest library in Quebec City, for research. That was over 30 years ago, where my passion for formulating non-toxic and natural alternatives to mainstream products really began. It’s been a life-long (and messy, lol) passion of mine!
In 2019, my partner Ian and I started Elva’s All Naturals. After a full year of intensive R&D and working with natural chemists, we launched to market in late January 2020. Too many people we loved were getting sick and we suspected toxic chemicals played a sinister role in this. We wanted to help our loved ones eliminate harmful chemicals from the products they use every day. And also, eliminate excess waste. We were very saddened by the growing piles of waste in our landfills and oceans, and the deadly effect on aquatic life of harmful chemicals being washed down the drain. So for us, not taking action wasn’t an option! For the sake of our 4 children, those in our community, future generations and the planet.
My middle name is Elva, named after my amazing Nana. Our logo is a tracing of her wedding pic when she was 25! Nana Elva has had an incredible positive influence on my life. She and my grandfather lived through the great depression and consistently taught me that “health is wealth”, “care for others through action”, and “use what you have”. They also placed a large emphasis on respecting nature and choosing all natural ingredients, in their food and personal care, and hated waste. These principles are the really the foundation of our business. That’s why our products are made from all-natural ingredients, contain zero toxic chemicals, are concentrated and refillable, and we take back our packaging for reuse through Circulr.
Elva’s All Naturals is our chance to show respect for the planet, and care for people on a larger scale. We won’t use any ingredients in our products that are linked to harm in any way. That’s why our company tagline is “people. planet. pure.”.
What sets your company and products apart from other eco - conscious brands?
I think the first big thing is our truly natural recipes and formulations. The second is we offer sustainable home refills and refillable packaging, in aluminum and glass. We’re at war with toxic chemicals, and waste.
Unfortunately in Canada, companies are only banned from using only about 500 toxic chemicals in their products, whereas in the EU that number is over 1300. We formulate to EU standards because they’re light years ahead of us in North America, in acknowledging that certain ingredients just have no business in consumer products.
We just won’t compromise, even if it means it has to cost more, from only using natural ingredients. Which basically means when we made our products, we had to formulate almost backwards; pulling from a much shorter list of only natural and safe ingredients.
We don’t use artificial fragrance, toxic preservatives, parabens, sulfates or any versions of SLS. While commonly-used toxic chemicals are cheap, our health and planet pays the price in the long-run. If you think of it in terms of a litre of water you’re about to drink. Imagine it’s “99% natural ingredients”, which means just 1% of toxic chemicals. Well, that’s actually 2 tsp worth – 10 ml. I bet you’d think twice, before drinking it! Our bodies absorb into our bloodstream what we put on it; our skin has over 5 million pores. So that little 1% ends up being pretty scary!
The second big thing is that we are doing things differently and constantly innovating, with respect to our eco packaging and lean manufacturing. We’re a member of Impact Zero, focused on building the circular economy. So we’re always making changes as we learn more and new information becomes available, with respect to health and environmental data. For example:
- We offer refillable packaging in glass and aluminum.
- We’ve launched a program in the GTA (expanding to BC soon!) to take back our packaging for reuse – including the plastic parts like pump and spray tops, through Circulr. This means, we’re reducing the need for virgin materials.
- Our home refills come in recycled cardboard boxes with a thin plastic recyclable bag inside. We chose this instead of offering traditional stand-up pouches, because almost all of those end up in landfills.
- We do small, lean and on-demand batch manufacturing. We don’t mass-produce or make thousands of anything at once. This means our products are fresh, and waste is greatly diminished.
- We mostly rely on ingredients farmed organically in Canada. This means that our ingredients are supporting the local economy, and also not travelling across the world, which reduces carbon emissions from transport.
- We’ve innovated preservative systems that rely on natural technologies and don’t rely on toxic chemicals. So our formulas are safe and stable, but omit commonly used chemicals (such as Phenoxyethanol and Benzisothiazolinone, for example).
Where do you see your brands and product line up in 5 years?
I can see our products in many more homes, retailers and refilleries, and with a few new exciting products launching in the area of personal care. We’re always busy in the lab working on new ideas! Creating all natural products is our passion.
Over the next 5 years, our expansion as a brand will largely depend on our ability to grow sustainably and ethically as a manufacturer. We’ve grown so much in the past 2 years! The love and support from our customers and market acceptance has been overwhelmingly positive, and we’re so grateful for that. People are waking up more and more to how important it is to use 100% natural products. But - we’ve been very careful about turning down opportunities to grow TOO fast and unsustainably. Each step of growth requires more attention to environmental impact; we have that responsibility to the planet as a manufacturer. The planet is in trouble, and so industrially we just can’t keep doing things the same as before.
The good news is that new technologies, new ways of doing things and even new exciting materials (such as wheat straw as a replacement for plastic) are emerging! So we’re excited about what our future holds, and look forward to continued sustainable growth as a trusted Canadian source of all natural products in the home.