Those who consider their houses clean may have to think again. Edison native Karen Halo said she found out the hard way that although household cleansers and other products may give the impression of clean, the chemical-laden concoctions can be quite dirty in their effects.
“I call it the ‘toxic cocktail,’ ” said Halo, proprietor of the all-natural cleaning product line Absolute Green, about the combined effects of chemical household products.
She experienced the “cocktail” firsthand about five years ago, when she was doing some improvements at her home. The chemicals that Halo was using caused an asthma attack that sent her to the hospital.
“Your house is supposed to be your nest, and your nest is supposed to be safe,” Halo said, adding, “I didn’t want this to happen to everyone else.”
“I was passionate about something, but I was also fueled by anger to learn,” she said. “It kind of got me looking with the same set of eyes from when I was 18.”
That perspective sent Halo to confer with a chemist to learn more about how cleansers and other household products could be made with natural ingredients. By 2008, she was mixing her own formulas in her kitchen sink.
“That’s kind of where, in life, everything came together,” Halo said, explaining that her background in sales, marketing and branding was a perfect fit for this endeavor.
Starting off by selling Absolute Green products at various farmers markets and on her company’s website, Halo has progressed to being carried in 30 Whole Foods stores throughout the state, as well as in New York and Connecticut.
Absolute Green products were also featured on the Today Show as one of “Kathie Lee and Hoda’s Favorite Things.”
In addition, Halo’s days of hand-mixing products are over. A fully functional warehouse in Metuchen serves as the manufacturing headquarters for Absolute Green.
According to Halo, the products’ success comes from the ability to use them without any fears about causing ill health effects for adults, children, pets or the environment.
“The key here is ‘nontoxic,’ ” she said, adding that although she is required by law to print instructions to call poison control if one ingests the products, the ingredients are not able to do any harm.
Unlike traditional products, Absolute Green cleansers can be used in confined spaces without ventilation, and no gloves are required while using them, she said.
In addition, they are gluten-free, vegan and packaged in biodegradable bottles that are Bisphenol A (BPA)-free. The products are not tested on animals.
But don’t take the products’ kindness for weakness, Halo emphasized.
“They really do work,” she said. “It does the whole house — and in one bottle.”
Absolute Green is not only for cleaning. Halo’s product line also consists of DEETfree bug repellant, air fresheners, soaps and yoga-mat wash — all free of synthetic chemicals. More products are slated for introduction in 2014.
Halo’s prior experience with essential oils was put to good use in formulating product scents, which she said are clean and clear. Lavender, lemon, cinnamon and peppermint are among the aromas in her arsenal. With her passion for creating natural and safe products, Halo’s work is its own reward. However, the steady stream of positive feedback she receives only fuels her even more.
“Every day, someone shakes my hand and says, ‘Thanks for doing this,’ ” she said, recalling a recent in-store demonstration during which a loyal customer told her that the Absolute Green products are “lifechanging.”
Despite the significant recognition Absolute Green has received, Halo has yet to quit her proverbial day job, which also has a decidedly green hue — consulting with commercial office buildings to make them more sustainable.
“I’m not at the jump-off point yet,” she said.
In hopes of bringing the products’ impact to a more widespread group, Halo has taken to the crowdfunding site Indiegogo.
Her goal is to raise $18,000 or more by Oct. 18.
Those who contribute receive a variety of perks — from Absolute Green products to a dinner with her at Jon Bon Jovi’s charitable Soul Kitchen restaurant in Red Bank, for which she supplies her cleaning products.
Top-level donors — at $2,000 — receive a pair of tickets to a Bon Jovi concert, among other rewards.
Donors can also donate their reward products to people or organizations they feel could benefit from going green, she said.
For more information on Absolute Green, visit www.absolutegreen.biz.
To donate to the Indiegogo campaign, find the link on the company website or visit bit.ly/1f3p5l7.