If you are on social media, chances are you have seen or heard something about Zero Co. This Aussie brand is launched in November 2020 after a raising over $700k from Australian households in a Kickstarter campaign for its eco friendly cleaning products. We were keen to see what the hype was about, and Zero Co was kind enough to gift us a Starter box lite pack in exchange for our honest opinion.
What’s different about this brand
What makes this brand different is the simple yet effective refill model, which is easy, affordable and zero waste. When I first heard of the principle behind this brand it got me very excited. It is based on the idea of a circular economy, much like how things used to be back when our grandparents were kids. The idea to offer refillable environmentally friendly natural cleaning products seems so common sense it’s hard to believe it hasn't been done yet.
The simplest example is the milkman, he delivers the milk in a bottle, the milk gets used and then the bottles are collected, cleaned, and reused, creating a circle with no waste. Zero Co works in a similar way.
How it works
When you purchase a Zero Co starter kit you receive a combination of empty forever bottles, refill pouches and a prepaid return envelope to send back your empty refills. The forever bottles are designed to last and be kept in your house, you guessed it, forever. These bottles are made from ocean, beach and landfill bound plastic and each bottle has a code you can use to trace where the ocean plastic came from which is pretty amazing.
If you already have sturdy bottles at home, you can opt to just buy the refills or purchase some forever bottles individually. The refill pouches are made from recycled materials diverted from landfill and are designed for the goodness to be squeezed out and then be returned for refilling. The refill pouches match the colour of the corresponding forever bottle to make things simple.
Try to collect at least 15 empty pouches before sending back the reply-paid envelope to help reduce the carbon footprint of shipping. Zero Co even ship and return all their products not carbon neutral, but carbon negative.
Zero Co’s green cleaning products are made in Australia from plant-based ingredients which are grey water safe, septic tank safe, vegan and cruelty free. All items except the dishwasher tablets are also palm oil free, according to their website they are working to also make these palm oil free. Natural derived ingredients like baking soda and essential oils can make for powerful cleaning solutions when made correctly and that is exactly what Zero Co aims to do.
As the bottles and pouches are designed to be reused indefinitely you won’t find the natural ingredients listed on the bottles or refill pouches, you need to go to the website for a full breakdown of what’s inside. You can look at the full ingredients list here.
Zero Co is so confident that their products are as good as the big-name supermarket brands they come with a 30-day money back guarantee. You will have to cover the cost of registered postage and provide an image as proof of postage. That seems fair enough.
Starter Box lite reviewed
There’s nothing like the anticipation of receiving a parcel. I was eagerly awaiting my Zero Co order and unfortunately living in on the 3rd floor of an apartment building, my order didn’t make it to my door straight away. I was left one of those all-familiar red cards in the mailbox to let me know I had to go and pick it up something from my local post office, only adding to the anticipation.
When I got my parcel home, I was not disappointed. I couldn’t wait to test out the products. The first thing I noticed was how generous the starter box lite pack was. For $109 you receive 6 forever containers as well as 7.5 L of product in the refill pouches. This is estimated to last 2 – 3 months for a 4-person household.
The pack contained:
- 1 x Handwash bottle with 1L refill
- 1x Bodywash bottle with 1L refill
- 1 x Laundry Liquid bottle with 2 x 2L refills
- 1x Multi-purpose spray bottle with 1 L refill
- 1x Dishwashing liquid bottle with 1L refill
- 1 x Stain Remover spray bottle with 500mL refill
- Prepaid return pouch made from recycled cardboard
The experience of filling the bottles from the pouches was relatively simple. Each pouch is clearly labelled, and colour matched to the bottles making it easy to work out. I did find some of the more viscous liquids like the laundry liquid required a fair bit of pressure to get them out, but this just required some patience.
I noticed that the forever bottles don’t have the capacity on them, so I wasn’t sure if the whole pouch would fit. For some foamy products like the multi-purpose spray I did make a bit of a mess by overfilling the bottle. Again, this wasn’t a big deal. I was pleasantly surprised by how much was left in the refill pouches for later use.
With all my bottles filled and pouches stored away it was time to get cleaning.
I instantly fell in love with this hand wash, not only is the sage green bottle stylish and sturdy the soap is lovely. This hand wash lathers easily for a thorough clean and smells great, it is a mixture of cedarwood and suede.
The bodywash comes in the same colour sage green bottle and has a delicate floral scent which is refreshing and cleansing. This wash creates a good soapy lather and leaves skin clean without drying it out.
Having used a plant-based bar soap for a long time, I do find you need to use a fair bit of body wash to cover all areas, but you can rest easy knowing that you will be doing so plastic free.
The dish soap comes in a purple squeeze bottle like a shampoo bottle, which may be a change for those of you who are used to the push cap lids of some of the supermarket brands. I did find the squeeze bottle easy to use, however it can be more difficult to control the amount of product that comes out.
The washing up liquid works well, you don’t need a lot of it, and I found it to cleans up grease and grim with easy. I will mention that I was not sold on a fragrance at first, the fragrance is finger lime and Davidson plum, for me it smells like a mix between orange and berry, but I am used to it now. I wouldn’t let the scent discourage you as this is such a personal preference that it might just be me.
The surface spray comes in a sturdy sky-blue spray bottle which has an on and off twist close. This spray goes the distance, not only does it clean well I also found the bottle has a long neck which makes the product go further and you need less sprays to clean your surfaces.
Again, the smell was not my favourite, the fragrance is wild ginger and lemon myrtle, however I find it to smell slightly chemically a bit like traditional glass cleaner.
The second last item in the starter lite box is the laundry stain remover, depending on your household this may not be a frequently used item in your cleaning regime. The spray bottle is the same design as the multi-purpose cleaner which is sturdy and easy to spray, it also has a foam option so you can choose between a drenching spray or a light foam which is handy.
I am not a frequent user of stain remover, however, will apply before washing if there is a collar mark, sweat stain or oil mark. I found this remover to be great for light staining but for grease spots rewashing was required. Overall I was happy with the results know that this was a naturally derived and grey water safe product.
The laundry detergent comes with a large pink bottle with a lid cap you can use to measure. I have to say I am 100% converted, I have found this laundry liquid to be the most effective ecofriendly washing machine formula I have used. It smells great and really works. It leaves your clothes clean and with a natural fresh scent of eucalyptus and lemon. I noticed my whites seem to be whiter as well which is an unexpected bonus!
Only a tiny thing but I did notice that when you use the lid as a measuring cap some of the liquid runs down the outside of the container and over time this can build up. You can simply rinse the bottle, but I am more concerned about wasting a single drop of this liquid gold.
If you are looking for a quality eco cleaning brand in Australia that delivers quality product to your door with zero waste, look no further. Not only are these products creating no additional plastic waste they are also competitively priced compared to supermarket brands. It warms my heart to think of all the plastic and chemicals that can be saved from landfill and the oceans by brands that are willing to try something new.
While I admire brands like Koala eco who make powerful natural cleaning products using recycled plastic, the reality is Zero Co takes it the one step further that really counts. You can of course always take things into your own hands and make your own products at home.