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Clean sheets take on a new meaning with The Dirt Company’s zero-waste detergents

Photography By The Dirt Company
Published 10.06.21

The Dirt Company is a new kind of clean. Founded by Frankie Layton in 2016, the Australian-based brand is reducing the amount of plastic in each wash cycle – making laundry a load better for you and the planet.

Using a concentrated formula of cruelty-free, biodegradable ingredients sold in refillable, recyclable packaging, Dirt offers a sustainable (and stylish) alternative to plastic packaged supermarket-bought laundry detergents. If only 0.5 per cent of Australian households switched to Dirt detergent, it would prevent 50 tonnes of plastic being manufactured each year.

With consideration for their impact on the natural world at the forefront of everything they do, it’s only fitting to learn The Dirt Company’s concept began out at sea, inspired by Layton’s gap year spent working on superyachts.

“We were in the most scenic, remote, beautiful areas of the world, like the Atlantic Ocean,” Layton says. “And the deckhands used to just throw our rubbish overboard. That was such a shock to me.”

Seeing firsthand how harmful humans can be to the planet came at a time when Layton was already experiencing a calling to do more. With the desire to start a business focused on sustainability in the back of her mind, she began developing Dirt while working in advertising.

For Layton, creating a successful sustainable brand begins with authenticity: the actions and commitments a business makes beyond words and clever marketing. “Consumers aren’t quite as gullible as I think they are often treated,” she says.

“They’re smarter now and there’s a wealth of information out there. If you want to be sustainable at your core, you have to actually be sustainable at your core. We’re in the age of transparency and authenticity. There’s no point just saying you’re authentic and green but not embedding it deep within the concept.”

The second key to Dirt’s success is a willingness to learn, adapt and innovate in a constantly evolving field. This is best reflected in the evolution of their dispenser bottles. Dirt first launched reusable aluminium bottles before switching to a glass design with even greater longevity, drastically reducing the amount of plastic used in the wash cycle. This is paramount to Dirt’s product design and the reason their organic laundry liquid is eight times more concentrated: it halves the amount of packaging normally used for supermarket-bought laundry detergents.

Dirt’s war on plastic doesn’t stop there. Customers can sign up to Dirt’s Refill Return program to send back empty detergent packs for refilling, an initiative striving for a zero-waste closed-loop cycle. “Customers who choose to be part of this initiative can return their refill packs in the post, which once received are sanitised and redistributed to other customers in the program,” Layton says.

Dirt has prevented 151,308 single-use plastic bottles from ever being manufactured – a number that is continuing to rise. For Layton, it’s the little changes that make the biggest difference: “It’s important to remind consumers throughout the process that they’re making a difference. Because at the end of the day, we sit there and calculate it all up and we’re like wow, that is something to be proud of, but it wasn’t our effort, it was theirs. The collective made that big figure.”

Proving yet again we’re all in this together.

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