Making Green Product Choices with My Conscience, My Choice’s Dory Kurowski
May 26, 2014
JOHN SHEGERIAN: Welcome to another edition of Green is Good, and we’re so honored to have with us today Dory Kurowski. She’s the Founder of MyConscienceMyChoice.com. Welcome to Green is Good. DORY KUROWSKI: Hi John. It’s a pleasure to speak with you this morning. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Hey, Dory. Before we get into talking about your great organization and My Conscience, My Choice, can you please share the Dory Kurowski story leading up to founding this great organization and how you even got to this place in life. DORY KUROWSKI: Sure. Well, I’ve always been an advocate of animals and a member of many animal-related organizations like National Anti-Vivisection Society, the American Anti-Vivisection Society, Harm Sanctuary, the Humane Society, etcetera, land preservation organizations and eco organizations, but after some personal events that I experienced, like the passing of my Bernese Mountain Dog and the birth of my son, which was very significant, I became even more involved with helping animals and leading a more eco-friendly lifestyle. I also became more nutritionally conscious as well so I set out on a quest to revamp my own lifestyle and I wound up becoming a resource for many others in my family, other friends of mine as well and what wound up happening was I wound up keeping a database of all my preferred choices that I switched to, all the new products that I bought, the wonderful brands that I discovered, and I incorporated my former background, copywriting and editing when I was in the communications world, and I was constantly writing press releases and that’s kind of how My Conscience, My Choice was born and I was able to write about these fabulous products that I discovered and that people should know about. JOHN SHEGERIAN: And when did you start My Conscience, My Choice? DORY KUROWSKI: I started it initially in 2011 and the website was launched in 2012. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Wonderful, and speaking of the website, I’m on it right now. It’s a beautiful website. For our listeners who want to follow along and look at the website while we have a nice chat today with Dory, please go to www.myconsciencemychoice.com. I’m on the website. It’s a beautiful website. Let’s talk a little bit about what your website does, what your organization does, and why you do it. We know about the why but how does it actually work? DORY KUROWSKI: Yeah. Well, the whole My Conscience, My Choice brand consists of a website and an app that’s in development, both of which serve as simple resources to find and purchases leading, cruelty-free, eco-friendly, and natural product alternatives and those alternatives should be purchased in lieu of commonly purchased products that the average person might pick up out of convenience so the mission of the project, which really is the first of its kind that I know of, is to provide a tool to help the average person transition his or her lifestyle to a more sustainable one and the goal is to provide information so that they are able to select and purchase better products and also to funnel the revenue to support the pioneering brands that are providing these sustainable products. There’s so many brands out there that people don’t know about. They might be under the radar because they’re just starting out or they’re just getting a cruelty free certification and I’m trying to bring these brands to the forefront so the average person can know about them and use them so the website and apps that are in development offer the information that’s very easy to reference, quick bullet points, why you should switch to the product so that you can switch from purchasing more familiar brands that you might be used to purchasing leading eco friendly, cruelty free, and all natural brands and products. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Yeah, and it’s a beautiful website so when you started it, how many brands did you have on the website then and how many has it evolved to and how do you choose the brands? DORY KUROWSKI: Yeah, that’s a really great question because there are so many fabulous brands but there’s also so many brands that make false claims as well and that’s kind of how My Conscience, My Choice comes in is it kind of helps to cut through the clutter of false claims, brainwashing or core product performance, you know you buy a product, you test it, and you might not enjoy it. It might not perform like you’re used to, so that’s kind of the mission of the site is to do all that legwork, so someone who’s busy doesn’t have to do it even though you might care about switching to a better product, and I think initially, and the database is continuously growing and it’ll be featured in the app when the app is ready, I think right now there’s about 80 or so posts because I was posting one alternative per week. Now it’s one every other week that’s featured out on the site so every time you go on the site, every other week, there’s a new product alternative but there’s so many more that are still pending to be released. JOHN SHEGERIAN: How do you decide? This is an interesting social study and science project in so many ways. What are your standards that you use to recommend these products and how do you decide which ones to use and are you testing them on yourself or friends or other organizations, the third party certifying bodies you’re relying on? How does that work? DORY KUROWSKI: The goal is really to kind of look at the gold standards first and to pick from a smaller pool of products that are available and fortunately, there are so many now that are certified in certain ways. For example, I’ll look at companies that are certified as cruelty free from the most reputable organizations such as the CCIC, which is the Coalition for Consumer Information in Cosmetics. They have the leaping bunny logo, which is gold standard for cruelty free products. We also look at products that are certified as cruelty free by PETA and then we also look at B certified corporations, which practice very rigorous environmental standards and are extremely responsible in how they produce and manufacture their items in their day to day operations, companies that are Natural Product Association certified and so forth so that’s kind of where we look from but there are also so many new products that haven’t gone through that process yet so in that case, we’ll make phone calls to the company, find out more information, really kind of vet everything before making a recommendation. Then of course, yes, I do personally try out the products myself. I have others try them as well. I do look at plenty of reviews and get personal feedback. It’s obviously so important. None of the recommendations are compensated. I have no relationships to any of the companies or brands recommended and that’s really important obviously so yeah, we look at, in terms of natural products, all organic or naturally derived. We also look at the EWG product database if necessary, if there’s some ingredients that are unknown, recyclable packaging, but it always starts with a narrow pool of brands if that’s available. JOHN SHEGERIAN: I’m on your website and the amount of brands that you’re carrying just already is just wonderful. Again, for our listeners out there that just joined us, we have Dory Kurowski on with us today and she’s the founder of My Conscience, My Choice and please look at this great website. It’s www.myconsciencemychoice.com. I’m on it right now and there’s so many amazing products in every category. How many want to get on? Are people now sending you products and asking for a place? DORY KUROWSKI: Yes, yes, and it’s difficult. It’s a good question and it’s good to talk about. What do you do to honor all of these pioneering brands that maybe the product might not perform as well but they’re doing well and they might have other products in development. There is a section on the site called, ‘Companies with a Conscience’. Those are companies that are producing cruelty free products, eco friendly products, natural products. Maybe their specific product has not been recommended to purchase in lieu of another product yet but their efforts are noble. They might be coming out with something shortly and they should definitely be recognized. The brand should be recognized for consumers so we have that section, ‘Companies with a Conscience’. A lot of the companies that are recommended on the site are already Companies with a Conscience but yeah, there’s tons of companies that approach me that say, ‘How can I get on your site?’ and that’s like a first avenue to get on the site is becoming a Company with a Conscience. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Earlier in the show, you referenced how you changed your whole lifestyle in terms of the products you used and even your diet. How did your diet change? DORY KUROWSKI: It’s funny you should ask. I did stop eating meat, of course and I’m actually just currently on an anti-candida diet so my diet is very restricted and everything I eat has to be really scrutinized but yes, the first thing was to stop eating meat, dairy, and try to find alternatives there and there’s so many, especially in the area of cheese, fabulous alternatives. This week, we just recommended Treeline tree nut cheese, which is an amazing spread that is tangy and creamy just like something you would be used to and people can’t tell the difference whether you eat dairy or not. Everyone seems to love the spread and there’s so many products like that that are just easy to transition to that people should know about that are better for their health and better for the environment, better for animals, it’s a win-win for everyone. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Dory, people ask me what are some of the oncoming mega trends and big opportunities as young people who are graduating with their M.B.A. or their law degree or just with their general degree and I just tell them, ‘You want to be a billionaire, get involved with the vegan food movement,’ and it’s just going to explode so anything plant based is just going to be huge and I think it’s wonderful that you’re carrying cheese like that. I think that’s just another great part of your story and the great collection of brands that you’ve put together DORY KUROWSKI: Thank you. I completely agree with you. Look at where Bill Gates’ money is going right now and tons of other very prominent investors. I think Hampton Creek Foods just got a huge investment. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Beyond Meat, which is backed by Bill Gates and Biz Stone, they were on the show a couple weeks ago, and they rocked the house. It’s just a great story and it’s just going to continue to grow so talking about mega trends, you mentioned earlier in the show your app. You’re making an app and mobile is the mega trend and people are moving from desktop, not only to laptop but they’re moving to mobile so is your app in development and when do you think that’s going to be released? DORY KUROWSKI: Yes, the app is in development. It’s come very far. We have a prototype right now. Considerable investment has already been made in the app to get to the prototype stage so there’s not too much technical work left but because there’s so many alternatives to put in, more than even what’s on the website, we’ve said early next year that the app will hopefully be released and the goal of the app is really, like you said, that’s really where it’s at, to have a mobile easy to use reference for the person while they’re shopping or whatever, while they’re home. They want to look at a different alternative. They found something in their pantry and they realize it has a bad ingredient in it, just to have at your fingertips 24/7 a resource to make a product switch, order another product online, what have you. That’s the goal of the app. The way it works, you simply scan the barcode of a product and it will feed back what we think is the leading substitute to purchase instead of that product. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Gotcha. That’s awesome and you talked about considerable investment being made in the app. Talk a little bit about that. Now your website’s up and going. It’s obviously successful. People are sending you products. You’re featuring all sorts of neat and cool stuff. Talk about partners and investors. How do you take it to the next step and what’s your vision here? DORY KUROWSKI: Ironically, I’m actually meeting with investors tonight so we’re always looking to meet investors. There’s features of the app that we’d love to refine. The feature right now, as I mentioned, you scan a product and the best alternative will be fed back to you to purchase. You can purchase it through the app but you will need to do that in Safari so you would have a different user interface where you can have the e-commerce right within the app would be one feature we’d be looking to upgrade. Another feature would be to have some kind of Foursquare feature so for the brick and mortar retailers that are recommended in the area, they could kind of pop up when you were walking around and you wanted to purchase another product in lieu of the one you scanned and you could see which retailers were closest to you. This would be really neat for an urban environment to be able to say hey, let me exit this store and go into the next one and I’ll pick it up there if it’s not at the store that you’re currently at so those are kind of things that we’re looking to upgrade the app on. Right now, there are partners of My Conscience, My Choice. We have affiliates, like Vegan Cuts based in Canada and a growing number of other companies, retailers that we will be working with on the app going forward, and other pioneering brands so that’s great and eventually, I’d like to actually form an advisory board as well. That’s under discussion to help with the endorsement of the products being recommended. JOHN SHEGERIAN: What it seems like is every time I walk through the aisles of Whole Foods and all of the other natural food product stores and things of that nature, it seems like there’s more conscience driven products coming out than ever before. What’s your plan for keeping up with all of the volume of the new products coming out and integrating them appropriately into our website when needed and necessary? DORY KUROWSKI: It’s a great problem to have but we’re having all of these wonderful brands coming at the forefront. Like you said, when you go to Whole Foods, it’s dizzying. It’s maddening because there are so many brands. I think it’s probably inevitable that some products might be missed but that’s going to be the beauty of the app. There’s going to be a feature on the app that will link with Facebook and the community of users that will be able to use the app can provide feedback about the recommended products to endorse it or even recommend another product is kind of where the app is going. They’re going to have a springboard for recommendations that many people will agree with. There will be the open door there for stimulating conversation about other brands that other products as a resource. The people will be a resource to help purchase different products as well so that’s kind of another feature of the app so we’re very confident in the recommendations but just seeing the switch as everything comes out. There’s so many new brands evolving and developing. I just saw something the other day about a chest rub. Instead of Vick’s, we recommended something put out by honest companies and that happens. We will update if we find we like the product better, we will definitely update it on the app, on the website but we will really value the recommendations by the people as well and all the feedback that we get. JOHN SHEGERIAN: I love it. Your app also then becomes a great democratizing tool. DORY KUROWSKI: Exactly. JOHN SHEGERIAN: We’re down to the last two minutes, unfortunately. Shameless plugs. You mentioned the cheese spread a couple minutes ago. What other shameless plugs do you want to give for great products that people should know about vis-à-vis Green is Good? DORY KUROWSKI: Oh gosh, well, in terms of household cleaners, there’s a fabulous product called Karmalades Household Scrubbing Souffle, which if anybody’s ever cleaned an oven, it’s a very unpleasant experience when using toxic cleaners. This is a nontoxic almost like a cream that is slightly abrasive. You can use it on various surfaces. That’s a wonderful nontoxic biodegradable cleaner. Another one that was recommended and I like a lot is Quinn Popcorn. Quinn Popcorn has revolutionized the microwave popping popcorn industry by developing a bag that contains no chemical impurities. It’s compostable, recyclable, the corn obviously has no GMO. There’s a really short list of ingredients, no preservatives, hydrogenated oils, artificial flavors, pressed oils, fabulous product and just for the upcoming summer season, fabulous product, another one, the organic insect repellent by Tick Tock Naturals. It’s a insect repellent that’s DEET-free, completely organic. You can use it on children, babies, pets, and it’s completely cruelty-free, all organic ingredients with a recyclable and reusable aluminum container and it repels mosquitoes, gnats, and fruit flies. JOHN SHEGERIAN: I love it and I can’t wait until your app comes out and you get to come back on the show and talk about your amazing app. Thank you, Dory, for democratizing the power of choice that consumers possess. You are truly living proof that green is good.