Realising that every little change counts, Lil' Bit Better makes certified organic, cruelty free and palm oil free cleaning products such as room sprays, leather and wood conditioner, soap nuts and dishwashing liquid, but also personal care items such as insect repellent, gardeners soap and after sun spray.
We sat down with Liz, the Owner and Founder of Lil’Bit Better to chat a bit more about how the idea of Lil’Bit Better was born, and the importance of their philosophy of doing a ‘little bit’ to help make a big impact. We loved hearing Liz’s story and learning more about the incredible work she is doing with Lil’Bit Better!
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you started Lil’Bit Better?
To say I have had my fingers in many work-life pies is an understatement.
From 7 years in retail selling clothing, skincare and herbal remedies to receptionist/admin at a sock manufacturer I ended up working in IT as a Sales Administrator. Years later I honed my skills in sales and marketing and worked for a few larger international companies ranging from food and beverage to offset and digital printing press manufacturers.
But this isn’t a CV so let’s just say the last company I worked for was my dream job; to work at one of Australia's premium nursery growers and landscaping companies. It was great until it wasn’t and after working for a string of egotistical and rude people I decided I had had enough. I needed to do something that would make a difference!
At the same time as handling work stresses my husband Chris caught up with a mate who suggested we may want to keep bees. I can’t say I had ever entertained the idea but sure, why not? That very weekend we went along to a short course and that was it, true love ensued.
We were in no way expecting to fall so in love with our bees. Learning just how much impact we have on these little creatures, the awful problems they face and how we were unwittingly adding to their plight by using pesticides and a cacophony of chemicals in our everyday lives and it HAD to change.
This ‘hobby’ led to a complete overhaul of our lives. The more we researched the more we discovered what WE could change to help our pollinators, waterways and our own health. From understanding what food we ate; where it came from, how it was grown, to what seeds we planted in our veggie patch to what we used to clean our homes and ourselves. Every single thing was connected.
Sometimes the direction of your life is changed for you.
I quit my job, danced out of the office and Boom! Lil’Bit was born.
Can you tell us a bit more about how your products are made?
I had always dabbled in Aromatherapy, herbs and making my own lotions and potions so I just started experimenting, sending samples to friends and family for feedback and tweaking the formulations here and there.
All I know at that point was that my products had to be of the best quality.
There is no point in making an eco-friendly product with substandard ingredients, so I set about finding the best Australia had to offer which led me down a very long and depressing rabbit hole. I had no idea how much blatant lying and deception there was in the ‘eco-friendly’ world from leaving ingredients off the product label, to using cheap, imported fragrant oils from overseas and passing them off as 100% essential, the use of fillers, thickeners and so many other chemicals hidden behind fancy terms, statements and ‘studies’.
A crash course in some basic chemistry and a lot of research later I found all the high quality, certified organic, raw ingredients in which to make my products.
We love your philosophy of doing a ‘little bit’ to help make a big impact. Why was creating sustainable, eco-friendly products important to you?
It was important to me to help 100% accountable for all my claims so I make a point of being fully transparent in everything I do. This is imperative when applying for Choose Cruelty Free Accreditation and selling into stores who pride themselves in selling ethical, palm free and organic products.
Now, what was I to put them in?
Although I wanted to start off being as eco-friendly as possible with my packaging, there is just not a lot of options here in Australia for small businesses like mine. Minimum order quantities of many biodegradable or compostable products run into the thousands and the financial outlay was just not viable. I did look at purchasing overseas but ran into the same issues and of course I wanted to support Australian manufacturers so that had to wait. I could see that plastics manufacturers were coming around to the demand for more eco-friendly bottles, pumps and triggers so I just had to keep on researching and bide my time.
I started using regular, recyclable PET bottles, along with PET pumps, triggers and misters until I started to see more companies sell rPet – these are bottles made from existing PET plastic. By using these bottles, we are not making any new plastics which is a win. Biodegradable and Compostable PET is coming and once it becomes affordable, I will switch to them.
I am always looking for ways to improve my packaging. I switched from Pumps to disc caps once I discovered there were 11 pieces of plastic in a pump, only 2 in a disc cap. The Dishwashing and Toilet Cleaning tablets are sent out in bio foil, kraft paper bags – there are facility compostable and are the only type of their kind in Australia.
Product labels are another area I am constantly looking into. All my labels are printed with vegetable inks by Australia’s most sustainable and eco conscious, carbon neutral printer but I would love to replace the current vinyl labels with a better option when one becomes available.
Currently the labels on 9 of our 20 products are the only non-recyclable packaging in Lil’Bit products but all other components are either home compostable, facility compostable or biodegradable. My boxes are sourced through a local retail chain and everything from the packing tape to the void fill is either recyclable or compostable.
All these environmentally friendly options do cost a lot more than if I were to go overseas, sometimes as much as triple the cost, this makes my margins slim but I’m not in this to get rich that’s for sure!
What do you believe has been Lil’Bit Better’s biggest success so far?
The business has now grown to 91 stockists around Australia, both retail stores and online including my own online store. With only myself making each and every product, from scratch and by hand, you can imagine I don’t get a lot of free time to myself. I do have an incredible hubby and mother who will fly in from interstate once a year to help me prepare for Christmas - last year I had to rely on my cats so I’m not holding out much hope there!
What does the future hold for Lil’Bit Better?
Along with making, packaging and shipping out product, I am always looking to sharpen my skills and knowledge base. I have my Diploma in Intermediate Herbalism and am currently studying for my International Certification as a Natural Perfumer so as for what Lil’Bit holds in the future……watch this space!