There are few products better placed to launch during a pandemic than a sustainable cleaning range delivered to your doorstep
By Jessica Mairs
SWEDISH DESIGN STUDIO Form Us With Love accidentally trialled the idea when it launched its Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for Forgo on 24 February, just days before Italy became the first European country to enter a Coronavirus-imposed lockdown. The concept for an environmentally friendly powdered hand soap that does away with the plastic dispenser and unnecessary transport weight of water was a hit, raising £48,000 to cover its production in just over a month.
Forgo is the brainchild of Form Us With Love designer Allon Libermann, who after working on projects to create more environmentally conscious products for brands like Ikea, wanted to bring innovation to ‘sleepy industries’ like cosmetics. ‘There’s so many incredibly thoughtful and good designers out there, but their main focus is another chair, another piece of furniture and it seems like a bad utilisation of resources,’ he says. He teamed up with a natural cosmetics lab to create the just-add-water formula, which is fragranced with citrus and wood scents developed from the leftovers from organic citrus farms and timber yards. The powdered soap is posted out in recyclable paper sachets with a reusable glass bottle and can be mixed with water directly from the consumer’s tap.
One of the biggest problems was finding a sustainable surfactant, a main ingredient in cleaning products that is largely derived from petrochemicals or palm oil, a driver of deforestation. Under Libermann’s ‘perfectionist model’ it took two years to source one made from sugar, corn and coconut. ‘Companies promote themselves as natural or sustainable. Those words are very easy to slap onto something, but nobody’s really backing it up,’ says Libermann.’ We’ve been trying to eliminate any ingredients that come from water-scarce regions; we’ve been trying to eliminate ingredients that have been contributing to deforestation. We’re eliminating as much as we can, but there’s still things that have to change beyond what we can change at the moment.’ Forgo’s glass-and-steel foam dispenser is designed to be ‘the last bottle you need for hand washing’, but Libermann acknowledges there is room for improvement here. Forgo 2.0 will see Form Us With Love redesign the pump mechanism – a notoriously difficult component to recycle due to its spring mechanism, but which manufacturers are reluctant to update. ‘It takes volume to make the industry change. We’re just a bit shocked that the bigger companies haven’t done this before, because nothing that we’ve done couldn’t have been done,’ says Libermann.
At 500kr (£43.50) for a kit containing a glass pump bottle and three sachets of powdered soap, the price of being sustainable is steep. There is the option to buy sachets of powdered soaps without the branded bottle (220kr or £19), but it’s difficult to forgo the allure of the minimalist frosted glass dispenser that elevates it among luxury rivals like Aesop and Diptyque. Just four backers of Forgo’s Kickstarter campaign opted for a refill-only subscription, while 984 pledged in return for offers including the branded glass bottle. One ‘superbacker’ writes: ‘I’m totally obsessed with these bottles. Is there any way to purchase just the bottles alone or add more bottles to my pledge?’
I C H E L B O S
I L L
I N F
I N D S T R Ö M S T U D
J O N A S L
I M AG E S