Replenish CEO Jason Foster was working in finance when he had an epiphany while using a spray starch to iron his shirt. It was an awfully big bottle, and he wondered why he hadn't seen a large household products company produce a smart concentrate-based system. But then he realized the truth: It isn't good business sense. "Companies make money on a product that's 99% water," he says. "A big company like that can't change." Foster set out on a quest to manufacture both a reusable bottle and a concentrate that could change business and help the planet. His surface cleaner line, Replenish, launches today.
The few concentrates already on the market either come as a thick liquid that needs to be measured and mixed separately, or in a powder or capsule form, leaving you to worry that the cleanser doesn't completely or evenly dissolve. In both cases, it's difficult to see what's actually happening. Foster wanted to make the entire process transparent to the consumer, so in his concept, a small, four-ounce "pod" of concentrated cleanser becomes integrated into the bottle.
The nozzle screws into the base like a garden hose, then you turn the bottle upside down and squeeze the cartridge. A valve ensures that the fluid drops evenly into a tiny reservoir for measuring, created when the bottle is inverted. Simply measure the fluid each time you refill the bottle; each pod has enough fluid for four full bottles. Or detach the cartridge and use the container as a plain old water spray bottle.
The reusable bottle was another challenge that Foster felt strongly about, and he wanted to create an iconic shape using responsible materials. For the material, he went with PET, the type of plastic that's most likely to be recycled, should the user ever decide to part with it. Unlike most every other spray bottle on the market, it contains no metal pieces in the nozzle -- the entire piece is 100% recyclable. And the bottle and all its elements are produced in Wisconsin, with the entire supply chain within a 200 mile radius. Inside, the concentrates are 98% plant-based, biodegradable, non-toxic to aquatic life and pH neutral, which is more than some other natural cleaners on the market, says Foster.
Replenish isn't the only reusable bottle hitting the market -- we wrote about iQ, another cartridge-based cleaner, and stores like Green Depot offer on site cleanser refills -- but Foster hopes to show the big household cleaner companies that, with devotion to good design, concentrates can still make good business sense. The math works for consumers, even if it requires an initial investment: Foster's bottle costs $7.99 and includes a four-ounce cartridge of concentrate that mixes four full bottles of cleanser (a bottle of Windex retails for about $4.00). He's also offering free shipping for those who purchase Replenish from the website.
Foster thinks his agility will win over time. Replenish's small size means he can more efficiently pack and ship more units, and can claim higher shelf density at retail stores. "We're basically giving the bottle away," says Foster. "But if our consumers commit, we'll be successful together."