Superfried – Walk the Talk
Testing eco friendly products by smol 02
Hi, Mark here again to continue with the second installment, testing eco friendly products by smol. This time I will be focusing on laundry capsules and fabric softener.
On my continuous quest towards eco living and reducing my carbon footprint, will these products deliver a convenient and cost-effective solution?
Smol is a company that specialises in eco friendly products for the most common household requirements, delivered to your door. Based on initial inspections, they seem to be a genuinely good company. For more of an overview, see Part 01 at the links above or below.
The laundry capsules
As mentioned in Part 01 you can control the frequency of delivery and cancel at any time. The eco friendly packaging is plastic free made from recyclable cardboard. For safety, they have devised a child-safe opening system that requires the removal of multiple tabs before access is possible. I can certainly confirm this system is effective as it almost thwarted me! ; )
The capsules are useful since they avoid the potential mess and spillages with our usual liquids. I assume the plastic film used to contain the detergent is toxin free and completely biodegradable.
Eco credentials – Capsules
By going completely plastic free, there are obvious, immediate eco benefits. Smol claim –
A full life cycle analysis by independent sustainability experts found smol laundry capsules give a 35% reduction in carbon through their production and delivery compared to the big brands.
All of smol’s products are vegan, cruelty-free and Leaping Bunny approved.
With regards to their ingredients, smol states that they use fewer chemicals when compared to other capsule brands. They do provide a link to the ingredients for their laundry capsules, which you will find at the end of this article. In addition to this, I have also included a link to Sophie at Sustainably Lazy where she conducts a more detailed review of the eco credentials of smol’s ingredients.
Sophie found that smol does use petroleum derivatives and synthetic ingredients in their products and subsequently emailed them for a response. Check out her review at the link below to find out more.
Testing eco friendly products by smol – Part 01
Testing smol products
Eco friendly products to your door
Smol - Laundry detergent ingredients
Laundry detergent ingredients
Sustainably Lazy – Is smol eco-freindly
Is smol eco-freindly?
Leaping Bunny – Cruelty-free certification
The fabric softener
Onto the fabric conditioner. As you will recall, this was supplied in the grey opaque recycled plastic bottle, which confused me – why was it not clear like the others to make production more efficient? Having read more about this product, I think the grey bottle has better eco credentials, and since the liquid is super concentrated, it will require fewer refills / requirement to observe how much is left in the bottle. Smol state –
Our 500ml twin pack can last you months and months. With around 124 washes for your laundry you'll barely ever need to restock.
For the initial bottle, they charge £5.50 plus £2 delivery. However, there is no delivery charge for subsequent refills. These are sent as 2 x 500ml cartons – to reduce delivery impact – for £11.
Eco credentials – Fabric softener
My first concern was the potential impact of the refill cartons. About this smol state –
Each refill carton generates 43% less carbon through production than our recycled plastic bottles. Recycle your cartons at kerbside, locally or return them to us for FREE and we’ll recycle them for you.
I do not think my council is likely to recycle the cartons, so I respect smol for taking on the responsibility of providing a free recycling service. I hope in the future they will develop a more efficient method by which to supply refills, such as a seaweed-based biodegradable packaging from a supplier like notpla. However, this would also require smol to switch to completely natural ingredients.
The forever bottle supplied is made from 100% recycled plastic post consumer waste and they state that the liquid uses fewer chemicals – see ingredient details in the link at the bottom of this article.
They also state that the conditioner is made without the animal fat used by other brands. This was a new one for me – who knew this was a thing? – but was great to hear.
How did they perform?
The capsules are easy to use, simply drop one in the machine with your clothes. The fabric softener smells great – which may be because they still use non-eco chemicals – and since it is super concentrated, only requires three pumps to be dispensed into the drawer. This is far less liquid than I would use with our previous products. Post wash at 30˚ the clothes were clean and smelled fresh, so from that perspective, they were just as effective as our usual products.
How did they perform on price?
Smol laundry capsules cost £0.24 per wash. For laundry detergent, it is a bit more tricky to compare with our usual products since they are not in capsule form. I will work on the assumption that for an average wash, the general recommendation is 35ml of liquid. Based on this assumption the eco detergent from Fantastic – No Plastic works out at approximately £0.21 per wash [£0.60 per 100ml].
Conversely, our usual liquid from Aldi costs approximately £0.07 a wash [£0.20 per 100ml]. For a fairer comparison, I then looked at the leading brand prices taken from Asda. Fairy non-bio costs £0.16 a wash [£0.45 per 100ml] and Persil non-bio is the same price as smol at £0.24 per wash [£0.68 per 100ml].
With regards to the fabric softener, this is more complex. Consequently, I will have to base the comparison on the stated number of washes provided by the manufacturers respectively. Smol states a 500ml bottle will provide 62 washes, which works out as £0.09 a wash [£5.50 per refill]. Taking prices once more from Asda, Comfort, Lenor, and Fairy both cost £0.07 per wash [£2.25 for 33 washes].
The smol products are practical and have performed well, which means the price is now more significant. With regards to cost, I still think smol is slightly more expensive than the leading brands. However, I think they are close enough to be viable when you consider the eco benefits. I think the convenience smol provides is key to winning the battle to convince consumers to make the switch. Hopefully, as more customers make a transition towards more eco friendly products they will become increasingly more competitive.
Continue with these products – YES for now
I think I have concluded that my path toward a more eco friendly lifestyle has become more complex than I anticipated. My initial aim was to simply eradicate the plastic. I naively assumed the ingredients of an eco friendly product, would be eco friendly. I therefore assumed that comparing products within this sector would be simpler.
Consequently, I think I need to adopt a two-phase approach. The first objective is to source plastic-free products. Once I have those in place, I can then progress to phase 2, where I review again for plastic free alternatives that contain fewer harmful ingredients.
To be continued...
Next time I will be testing the last remaining eco friendly products by smol and deciding if I will continue with any on a permanent basis. If you have any tips or know of alternative products I should try drop me a message it would be great to hear from you.
Superfried has developed bespoke design solutions for numerous environmental organisations. Book a call to discuss how I could do the same for you.