Eco-Efforts: Blueland

Over the last few years I’ve made some concerted efforts at becoming a more ecologically responsible person. At this point, everyone with even rudimentary common sense or reasoning abilities or interaction with the world recognizes that our planet is endangered. We also know, pretty widely, that most of the technology to fix this constellation of problems already exists and that we are capable of mitigating the damage. Political will and outright foolish stubbornness are among the enormous obstacles we face. But I’m not here to rant about that.

I want to tell you about the active efforts I’ve personally been making to minimize the negative impact I and my household have on the environment. Rather than give you a long list of things all at once, I’m going to focus on just one effort in each post. Please note that I have NOT received anything in return for my reviews of the products I’ll be talking about. I’m sharing my experience with them entirely because I want to, and because I really do think these efforts are worthwhile.

One criticism that has often been levied at eco-friendly efforts is that it’s expensive to be socially and ecologically responsible. I agree, sometimes that’s true. For example, organic groceries can be significantly more expensive than conventional ones. Getting solar panels on your house can be a lot more expensive than the average new car. (We looked into it. We didn’t bother. More on that some other time.) I want to make it clear that in every instance I’ll be sharing with you, I’ve switched to an eco-progressive option not just because it was the environmentally correct thing to do, but also because it was either cheaper or at least not more expensive than going the conventional route. This is important to note. All the changes I’ve made in my household have been financially beneficial as well as environmentally so.

So with that said, the company I want to highlight today is Blueland. I got their starter kit (the Clean Essentials one) during the first year of the pandemic and have never looked back.

This kit comes with foaming hand soap and three plant-based household cleaners: glass/mirror, bathroom, and multi-surface. The idea is that you get a refillable bottle for each and then add tap water and a cleanser pellet to the bottle to create a full bottle of cleaner. The “forever bottles” escape the perpetual cycle of single-use plastic; the one for the hand soap is actually made of glass. The pellets come packed in paper.

So why are these cleaners worthwhile? For one, they actually work. Like, really well. I tested them against all the major brands of the same products I had from the grocery store, and they all worked as well as or better than the store-bought ones. And they last just as long.

The ecologically friendly part of this is that I’m not putting any single-use plastic bottles into landfills when I use Blueland. (And before you advise me to recycle them, obviously I do, but when those cleaning product bottles have residue in them, they end up in landfills anyway.) I encourage you to browse the FAQ and Mission sections on their website to learn more about their products and their company, which was founded by a woman named Sarah who learned about plastic pollution when she became a new mom.

Finally, one further point to consider is that those cleaning products you buy from the grocery store actually contain a lot of water, along with chemicals. Well, I can get water from my sink. Then I drop the plant-based cleaning pellet into that water, and fizz fizz in a few minutes I have a bottle of household cleanser that works really well and costs a lot less than the chemicals I bought at the grocery store. When I run out of cleanser pellets, I just order a refill, and they come packaged in compostable paper, mailed in a recyclable paper envelope. (In fact, all their shipping materials are recyclable.) I don’t even have to order refills that often.

Blueland also makes other products besides the ones I’ve noted here. For example, they make dish soap, toilet cleaners, and laundry detergent, but I haven’t tried those. They also make body wash, which I have tried and which works perfectly well and has extremely mild scents, but it is actually not less expensive than bar soap, so I don’t know that I’ll be continuing with it. (I’ll post more about body washes and soaps another time.) Blueland’s foaming hand soaps, for what it’s worth, have stronger fragrances, many of which I actually find delightful for the most part. (I’m not personally partial to the iris agave, but their seasonal gingerbread was fabulous.) And the hand soap feels good on your skin while also making it feel really clean — a tricky balance to achieve.

So I heartily recommend Blueland’s cleaners! Have you tried them, or another eco-progressive brand? Have you tried any of their other products? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!

Featured Poet: Hannah Rosenthal

Tonight’s featured poet is yet another one of my former students — because, frankly, I love being able to showcase these amazing people here, people who were talented and accomplished before I’d ever met them and who have gone on to continue doing exceptional things. I was lucky to have the chance to work with them when they were in high school, and I’m fortunate still that they’ve chosen to stay in touch.

Hannah Rosenthal is an officer in the U.S. Army, serving her second tour right now overseas. Even when she was in ninth grade, her writing and personality and work ethic demonstrated a willingness to serve and a selflessness that was unusual among other, more typical students in her age group. She won numerous writing awards as a student and then distinguished herself further her senior year by being, if I’m not mistaken, the first girl from our school to be accepted to West Point, the school where she matriculated.


Never Let Me Go


Days last twenty-four hours in the tradition
we clench so tightly our fists mottle gray
from unswayed overuse. We say the sky is blue
because that beautiful color lowers the massive
panorama close enough for us to see, but still too high
to touch. We don wings with hearts of stone

and the mechanics of birds, but birds with stones
for souls and pebbles in their blood, propelling tradition
closer and closer to the stars we can’t even count, their high
shine and brilliant composure blinding us to the gray
puddle of grit they actually are. For centuries massive
mysteries have mystified and choked us until we are blue

in the face. We fail to realize that our oceans have no blue
left in them, only the sick grease of oil washing up on the stones
along the tarred seashores, pulling the massive
net of ozone slowly to the ground. This is our tradition,
and we cannot let it go. Our appetite for the itchy gray
of sophisticated ruin goes unparalleled amongst the high

ranks of nature and order and whatever higher
calling we choose to believe in or disregard. The blue
dyes of nature bleed slowly into an overly sanitized gray
conjecture, like watching a picture-perfect girl turn to stone.
Imagine photographs with all the color and tradition
washed out, the road open to men with massive

guns and only their carnality left inside. The massive
implications of our ways lead us blind into a high
stakes game of spin the time-bomb, like a kiss of tradition
horribly misplaced. Today, we see the sky as an ocean of blue
filled with dreams. Today will never last forever. The stone
castles will crumble into dust, the same gritty texture of gray

as the stars we honor at night. Cormac McCarthy saw the world gray
with ash, from sunrise to sunset, if the sun could overcome the massive
hole in its fiery heart. When the brightest star turns to stone,
we might finally see the world out of its high
rolling clothes, dressed down to basic faded blue,
the original color of health and peace. Sadly, tradition

barrels on. Blue skies always give way to gray misery because
we have forever played the stakes too massive, too high
for any other tradition to overcome what is set in stone.