Interview with Christopher Gavigan Co-Founder of The Honest Co.

 

It was such an honor to interview an amazing parent who is trying to make changes in this big world.  Christopher Gavigan is the co-founder of The Honest Co, he is also a nationally recognized environmental health leader, author, and speaker, and the former CEO / Executive Director of Healthy Child Healthy World, a national nonprofit focused on protecting children’s health through sustainable, nontoxic family lifestyles. He sits on the Board of Directors of Mount Sinai Hospital’s Children Environmental Health Center, is a Chief Advisor to the Green Product Innovation Institute and on the Advisory Board of UCLA’s Environmental Health Science Department.

What made you become so environmentally focused? 

There was this lawn service company that would come spray our lawn when I was eight or nine and within 24 hours our lawn was this animated green.  I had three brothers and we would go play near the stream that was in front of our home.  Within the first 48 hours of the company coming to our home the fish in the stream were dead.  We asked our Dad, “What is happening?”  I was saddened and appalled, and so was our father.

The chemical fertilizer the company used had seeped into the stream and was killing the fish.  This for me was a turning point, we all live in this connected world.

I got my bachelors degree in environmental science and studies, and I did a lot of work with young children.  With the work I did with young children I was perplexed that certain homes I walked into– the families used fairly toxic chemicals around their children. There was one home that I call the Vanilla home—you walked in and a vanilla aroma hit you.  The house had vanilla spray, vanilla candles, and vanilla potpourri—you name it.  The child in the home had severe asthma and eczema and the asthma was being triggered I have no doubt about it by these toxins. After a month of taking all these things out of the home {as I demanded the mother to do} this child’s asthmatic symptoms were diminished.  He was taken off his inhalers after 3 months and essentially asthma free after year.  I saw the link—there were many instances like this and I saw what we do to our environment. Not just out there like the rivers and streams but in our own homes.

I myself have a child with asthma and eczema but I have seen a big difference since changing my lifestyle.  We haven’t used an inhaler in quite a while– what you just said is like a light bulb moment for me.

Yes, this chemical on slot in everyday living is affecting these last two generations and we have seen an increase in asthma, eczema, learning disabilities, behavioral delays, and reproductive disorders.  It’s really really scary You look at the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Cancer Society that says 89% of Cancers are environmentally linked.  This means that something happens during your life from the environment to your body that causes cancer.  89%.  It is a dramatic world and a dramatic shift of thinking and for people and the consciousness of people. That is why we felt so strongly when we were developing this company, that number one we are here as an educational platform to inform parents and help them with resources to minimize chemical exposure. As well it would be nice to sale products.

Would you say the number one thing that parent’s gain from purchasing from The Honest Company would be reducing chemicals?

Yeah, well it is piece of mind. Parents want to know that there is one trusted source that has curated and cultivated and manufactured, and has this philosophy and ethos in mind that we want to minimize the amount of harsh synthetics we want to use less petroleum. We only use ingredients that are the highest quality and the most stable and certainly the most historically proven in the market place.

Moms and Dads can be assured that we have done astringent testing and really astringent formulation.  These are some of the safest products you will find in the market as well as effective—I mean they have to work.  For a diaper not to work it is not going to be a winner– our diapers work.

 

As a mother of three I appreciate a drop-off service. I have had groceries dropped off, I know sometimes it is hard to have organic/green choices—I think this option is great for busy parents.  However, why a monthly subscription? 

We feel that it is a convenience.  Certainly will be rolling out a store shortly. However with market research and discussion and the founders we all have children under 4 ½ years old we all have two children (you could hear his proud papa smile here) I actually have a third on the way.  We were all saying “wouldn’t it be great to have one package show up with all our monthly needs.”  The bundle philosophy grew “I wont have to think about things for the whole month”– or for six weeks in the case of our family essentials bundle. What we found is it really resonated with a lot of people. They knew it would all come from one source, beautifully packaged in a timely manner and they only had to click once.  That monthly subscription truly peeked the interest with a lot people and with us too.  We created a brand we wanted, and we think The Honest Co. represents the young and modern parent.

 

I personally have been criticized for buying natural, green, or organic products. Many people do not feel the cost for green or organic products are worth the extra money, what do you say to that?

It is really an insurance policy you would rather pay a little extra now for the safest and healthiest products you can find for your children, as oppose to those products that haven’t been tested.  If you call any of the major manufactured diaper companies and ask what their ingredients are they wont tell you, they won’t tell you in an email, they don’t list it on the product or their website.  In order to get that information you have to get it thorough your doctor but the doctor can only get that info if your child is severely allergic to one of their ingredients– otherwise they won’t tell you. This whole smoke in mirrors is really confusing for people, and they outsource their trust to these major manufacturers and major retailers.  What is on store shelves today and what the reality and the regulatory landscape is , is that product manufacturers do not have to test their products for health and safety until it has been deemed unsafe. Asbestos is still not listed as an unhealthy ingredient that should not be used in building materials. Consumers and builders know the effects of asbestos and refrain from using it.  We have known the effects of asbestos for over 30 years.

And that is why I would tell parents that I would rather pay 10% or 20% more now then in 20 years have cancer or something you don’t know will happen.  It is a precautionary step for your children’s future to use the safest products.

How would you say your prices fare for the average American household?

Parents aren’t use to seeing bundles in a grouping, I challenge parents to look at their diaper bill over the course of a month and see how much they are paying. We are in line if not less because along with the diapers you receive a full months worth of wipes. This package is $79.95, which is under $20 a week.

Sadly, most people’s ecological footprint is not at the forefront daily, what does your company do to ensure there is a lessened impact (packaging, transportation)? 

The Honest Company uses ground shipping which has a 60% less impact than air.  Shipping goes directly to the consumer. The Honest Company works with the UPS, which is now a carbon neutral company. Our packaging is 30% post consumer recycled and the package is 100% recyclable.

With that said what do you say to those that are questioning the sale of disposable diapers versus cloth?

I think cloth diapering is a fantastic decision, however most people are unable to do so.  I applaud those parents that do.  Nonetheless the usage for disposable diapers is 98% (I’m part of that 98%.. me too).  We will be offering a diapering option shortly.  I applaud The Honest Company for that.

It was truly enlightening talking with Christopher.  I enjoyed hearing the passion in his voice, for The Honest Co., the health of children, and our future.

One thought on “Interview with Christopher Gavigan Co-Founder of The Honest Co.

  1. Sweet interview and a little more insight to let moms know the decisions behind a company that’s… honest! I hope their schedule is ia little less tight now, so they can also answer my questions for parents of eczema children on my blog!

Comments are closed.