What’s the story behind Sqwishful?
Ten years ago, my doctor told me that I have polycystic ovarian syndrome. PCOS is the leading cause of infertility in women after aging, affecting up to 26% of women worldwide. It's also closely associated with long-term health issues like diabetes and ovarian cancer. None of my doctors could explain why I had PCOS but I found study after study that showed that women with PCOS have more bisphenol A, or BPA, in their bodies. Women everywhere are experiencing the consequences of plastic on our personal health. Engendered ideas about beauty, wellness, and the role of women in households have led women to use more cosmetic, personal care, and cleaning products. These industries and their products are saturated by plastics and petrochemicals. Learning about BPA and plastics inspired me to start my minimal waste journey. I love to clean and quickly discovered that most cleaning products don’t leave the world cleaner. When I needed a new sponge one day, there were only neon plastic ones at the store. That’s when I realized there was an opportunity to take something every household has, that most people use every day, and turn it into a message of hope and positivity. That’s when I had the idea for Sqwishful.
Tell us more about your commitment to recyclability.
As a plastic-free brand, we don’t use plastic in our products or packaging. All of our products and packaging are 100% compostable. We use plant-based materials like wood pulp, luffa, and bamboo in our products that naturally biodegrade. Our vegetable starch-based bags and tree-free paper packaging can be home or municipal composted. If you don’t compost or live in an area with municipal composting, all of our paper packaging is curbside recyclable. Where we can, we prioritize compostability over recyclability because composting reduces waste and creates circular systems—one of our missions at Sqwishful.
What's your favorite cleaning tip or trick?
Natural sponges, scrubbers, and brushes will not smell and will last forever if you make sure to dry them after every use. Give them a good rinse, shake, or squeeze to remove as much water as possible. Then hang or place in a dry spot to let them air dry.
Has anything surprised you about your journey/success?
When I started, I wasn’t sure if anybody else wanted a natural, plastic-free sponge, but I thought I’d try to make one, and told myself, “How hard could it be? It’s just a sponge.” It took two years to launch our pop up sponge. Not only was I wrong about how hard it would be, but I totally underestimated how many people wanted a plastic-free sponge too.
What’s next on the horizon for Sqwishful or what do you hope to do next?
This year we’re launching new products, including more sponges, brushes, and our first dish block.
Tell us about one thing on your mind right now either environmentally, socially, etc.
It’s important not to mistake being positive with naïveté. Being mindful of our choices and the impact we can make, staying open to possibility, and believing in different outcomes is how the future is made.