Noted British textile designer William Morris wrote, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” Cleaning products, although useful, are rarely beautiful, but Toronto’s Guests on Earth aspires to satisfy the three Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) as well as the three Ss: sustainable, stylish, and self-care.
Founded by Jackie Prince and Liz Drayton, Guests on Earth is a result of two friends’ wanting to make a difference in a retail category in which traditional players have a well-defined aesthetic and natural cleaners a lacklustre image.
Dismayed by the overwhelming weekly accumulation of plastic in their recycling and garbage bins, the pair looked into what really happens to all that plastic. They discovered that liquid soap bottles, laundry detergent jugs, and glass cleaner spray bottles weren’t all being recycled. According to a recent report by Smithsonian Magazine, only 5–6 per cent of U.S. plastic waste was recycled in 2021, with the vast majority going to landfills. “Consumers are very aware of the plastic problem,” Prince says. “So we looked at the entire life cycle of a product to see how we could design something better.”
Prince and Drayton researched options to make something that was attractive yet sustainable and non-toxic. Alexandra Uribe of CO2RAL Consulting advised them on product development. Each round brought new challenges for them as, although they had a wealth of career experience, they were newbies at product development and distribution, especially when the product disrupts the current standard.
Guests on Earth’s packaging is worlds away from traditional clear plastic bottles filled with brightly coloured liquid. Its sleek refillable bottles are aluminum, one of the most recyclable materials, with a heat transfer label instead of a typical plastic sticker. And with a black modernist font on bottles in muted tones of yellow, green, and orange, Guests on Earth’s products are strikingly different.
The first three are an all-purpose cleaner for any nonporous material, a foaming hand soap, and a microfibre waffle cloth. Shoppers who want to adopt the Guests on Earth lifestyle can buy kits with refills.
“There’s a sensory experience with our products,” Prince says. From the matte texture of the bottle to the softness and fragrance options of the hand soap, Guests on Earth products are avoid the harsh scents of traditional cleaning products. Prince adds, “Imagine doing your cleaning routine when you look forward to spritzing your counters because it’s a self-care moment?”
The brand’s signature scents were developed to evoke a response not elicited in the regular cleaning aisle. Following the three S mantra, the result is something more akin to a perfume. Desert Dawn has notes of mint, citrus, rose, lavender, cedar, and fennel, while Dunes at Dusk is a woodsy combination of pine, vetiver, sandalwood, and frankincense.
Guests on Earth plans to bring a dishwashing liquid and glass cleaner to market in the future while also continuing to focus on social responsibility. As members of 1% for the Planet, the company supports environmental solutions through everyday actions, and it is committed to becoming carbon neutral by spring 2023 and in the process of becoming a Certified B Corporation.
“I’d like our brand to be a force for change,” Prince says. “We want to make a positive impact.”