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Mary AllenMy guest today is Mary Allen, co-owner of Savvy Green LLC with Rita Knorr. Based in St. Petersburg, Florida, their new brand of fragrance-free household cleaning products are also designed with the environment in mind. We’ll be talking about toxic chemicals in cleaning products and how simple cleaning products can work just as well. Mary and Rita started their company at home, using a simple recipe to create a dry laundry detergent to give to friends and family. The thought was that if all of their friends used the powder detergent “gifts,” that alone could account for a significant reduction of detergents in large plastic containers and their associated carbon footprint. Of course, their friends loved the powder and a new cleaning products brand was born. Mary grew up in a family of grocers. From a young age working in the store, she loved to understand what brought people into the store. After college started working retail specialty and department stores as a buyer and manager in many areas of the store. She has worked in product development, merchandising, testing, packaging, marketing and sales. She has traveled the world to bring the best products to her customers. most recently for 21 years with Bealls Department Stores and Bealls Outlet Stores.





Fragrance-Free Cleaning Products that Benefit the Environment too

Host: Debra Lynn Dadd
Guest: Mary Allen

Date of Broadcast: July 01, 2014

DEBRA: Hi, I’m Debra Lynn Dadd and this is Toxic Free Talk Radio where we talk about how to thrive in a toxic world and live toxic-free. You know I always love—I’ve been doing the show for how long now? About a year and a half. I always love listening to that opening music because it really is about making a decision to do something right.

And that’s what we’ll talk about in the show. It’s about making decisions to do things that are less toxic, so that you have better health and you take care of the environment and that we’re supporting life. Everything we talk about on the show is life supporting as opposed to life destructing.

I just read something this morning about how we don’t need to be afraid of things that appear to be dangerous if we know what to do to overcome them.

We can hear about toxic chemicals in the news all the time. Or it just sounds like we live in such a dangerous world. But if we know what to do, if we know that we can make a different choice and choose something that is less toxic, if we know that we can remove those toxic chemicals from our body and how to do these things, it’s not such a dangerous world.

It may still be toxic. It may still be harmful to other people that don’t know how to take care of themselves. It’s certainly harmful to the environment, so we absolutely need to clean up the world. We absolutely need to handle and remove all the toxic chemicals that we possibly can.

But each of us don’t need to be afraid that we are going to be sick and die or have less quality of life even though that’s happening all around us because there is enough information. If you do the things that we talk about on the show and on my website, you can have a healthy, happy life. And it’s totally, totally possible.

So that’s why I do the show everyday – every week day. And that’s why we have shows in the archives so that you can get all this information and hear all these all inspiring people who are making the world a less toxic place to live.

And now I’ll get off my soapbox, and we’ll talk about—well, soap actually. We are going to be talking about cleaning products, non-toxic cleaning products.

My guest today is Mary Allen. She is the co-owner of “Savvy Green” with her partner, Rita Knorr. They’re based right here in St. Petersburg, Florida which is right next to me in Clearwater, Florida. They have a new brand of fragrance-free household cleaning products that are also designed with the environment in mind.

Thanks for being on the show, Mary.

MARY ALLEN: Thank you so much, Debra. Thank you for your show and sharing all the information that you do with […]

DEBRA: Thank you. Are you hearing me okay? I’m hearing some static on the line.

MARY ALLEN: Great. Yes, I hear you okay.

DEBRA: Okay, good. So Mary, tell us how you—well, I know first of all you had an environmental interest. So why don’t you tell us about how you’re interested in living in a less toxic way. And then tell us about you and Rita started your company.

MARY ALLEN: Well, for me personally, living as simply and environmentally conscientious as possible mainly because I did use to travel a lot. I still do travel some. But you know when you travel around the world and see what’s happening to our environment globally, it really makes you think about where we live.

So many rules and regulations revolve around what we eat and drink anymore. But yet you don’t hear so much about what goes on inside our homes. It’s starting to be more important […] But I really think that what goes on around our home is not as dominant in what you hear out there…

DEBRA: Well, I would say in comparison to hearing about environmental issues in the news, hearing about the toxic dangers right inside our homes and consumer products is not given as much attention.

MARY ALLEN: Right. And that’s what’s so interesting to me because I’m really interested in being safe in what I eat and what I use. So I want to know what’s in the products. It’s interesting to me that so many of the products out there aren’t regulated, that so many companies can put whatever ingredients they want into products which is really interesting to me.

So I don’t know all the rules and regulations. I’m not claiming that I do. But it is interesting to me that there isn’t as much focus with what we do use inside the home in […]

DEBRA: Well, I think that needs to change. I think actually that every product should list every ingredient. And Walmart is actually coming up to be demanding that in the next two years from all their vendors, which I think is a great step in the right direction. It just should be every product that the consumer should be able to know what’s in it.

MARY ALLEN: Exactly! And I totally agree with you. That’s right. I think a lot of companies are getting onboard with it. And Whole Foods has really been a very important leader in calling out ingredients that they don’t want to sell in their products.

So, I think that’s really a good thing for all of us.

DEBRA: Good! So then tell us a little bit about your life before you decided to do this company, this new company.

MARY ALLEN: Well, I started at a young age. My family was actually in the grocery business. And so I’m very entrepreneurial. That really got me started on my path basically. As a kid, I worked with my dad in his store. And it really got me interested in products and things that people wanted to buy and what’s sold.

And then from there, after I got off school, it’s sort of interesting that I ended up working with someone in a specialty store and got really hooked into retailing and merchandising.

And so my career started in buying for a specialty store in Jacksonville, and so I’ve always lived in Florida. But from there I worked for a department store and then got more involved in product development, packaging. And then most recently through the past 20 years, I worked for […]

DEBRA: I know Bealles Department Store.


DEBRA: It’s actually a great place to get really cheap clothes. And a lot of times, I find natural fiber things there. So that’s good.

MARY ALLEN:Well, it’s a great locally private held company.


MARY ALLEN:And their department stores are only in Florida, but their outlet stores are all over the country.


MARY ALLEN: So it’s just great that a local family-owned company is still in business because it’s tough to compete against the bigger boys.


MARY ALLEN: But anyway, it was a great foundation for my background. I ended up getting into the hardline area which are things like home goods and gourmet food, things that people buy for gifts for their homes. And so, a lot of that involved product development, packaging, traveling globally, looking for products for our stores, especially for our Florida lifestyle.

Basically, it’s mostly hardline. But it really got me involved in testing because so many of our home goods now before they come in to the country and go out, they’re all tested, believe it or not. They’re tested for lead. Candles are tested for lead, ceramics and things like that. So I got very involved in the whole testing process as a merchandise manager eventually over a group of buyers and travelling around.

We did so much importing and bringing our own products, developing our own products, so I was very conscientious about bringing in the very best that we could, making sure everything’s tested well, that we are being safe and responsible in what we were bringing in. That sort of got me on this whole testing thing.

DEBRA: Let me ask you a question. As somebody who shops at those outlets, I have no idea that you were doing all of that. I had no idea of the safety that you are going through. So how come they don’t say we test all our products and things like that? We’ve only got about 15 seconds for you to answer that.

MARY ALLEN: Well, it’s hard to say, but I guess mainly because a lot of it is actually customs regulation. So customs want to be sure that you’re bringing in all of these products tested for across […] in California especially for lead.


MARY ALLEN: Because especially for kids’ items, you have to be so cautious.

DEBRA: I didn’t know there were customs rules about that. I want to hear more about that when we come back.

You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. My guest today is Mary Allen. We’re actually going to be talking about her new line of cleaning products that are fragrance-free and benefit the environment. She’s got some other interesting things to tell us. We will hear more about it when we come back.


DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. My guest today is Mary Allen. She’s the co-owner of Savvy Green. And they have a new brand of fragrance-free household cleaning products that are also designed with the environment in mind.

Mary, so could you just tell us a little more about the customs regulations? You were just talking about they’re required to be tested, products […] get through customs?

MARY ALLEN: Well, a lot of things that come in—I’m sorry, a lot of things that do come into the country do need to be tested and make it through based on our customs broker’s rules […] that customs does require. But the rules have changed so much. It has been a few years since I’ve been involved in the importing, so I don’t want to speak to what the custom’s regulations are right now.


MARY ALLEN: But I can tell you that we are, as a country, very conscientious about lead and products. And that’s why you see any more things being recalled from companies because there may have been too much lead in a product. But we did test for that.

And so all of these details really made for my background and the beginning that really helped me with Savvy Green—because of the merchandising, because of the packaging, the product development.

The marketing background that I have between Bealles Department stores and Bealles Outlet stores. And then, before that, the department stores. So that attention to detail really helped me with this process of building a new brand and focusing on things that are important to me with the brand and my partner, Rita Knorr, because she has always been an early adaptor of living this lifestyle and healthy choices. So it’s really been a big part of Savvy Green.

DEBRA: So tell us how the two of you met and what made you decide to start this company.

MARY ALLEN: Well, actually, we met in yoga class. But we’ve become very good friends. We live in St. Petersburg Florida. Rita and her husband, Rick, are neighbors. We’re friends and neighbors. We practice yoga. Rita is a yoga teacher. She has many years of engineering. She has 25 years in engineering. She’s really interested in how things work and how to improve and live in an environmentally sustainable lifestyle.

So, we met through all of that. And then, the way Savvy Green sort of got started was she was making her own—Rita was making her own laundry detergent in her kitchen. And she would make this laundry detergent that she would put in glass jars and give to friends as gifts.

DEBRA: Now, what motivated her to do that? I know that a lot of people—like I make my own cleaning products, but I don’t make my own laundry detergent. So do you know why decided that she felt like she needed to make her own instead of use laundry detergents that were on the market?

MARY ALLEN: Well, first of all, she’s always interested in how things work and how to be more sustainable. So, of course she wanted to figure out. And from her background as an engineer, it made her want to figure out how to be greener and cleaner as well as try and help change other people’s lifestyles in that regard.

She actually had seen—and there’s a picture, I wish I could show the picture on the radio show. But she actually had seen a laundromat in our area and it had piles of these plastic jugs on the roof—I mean, hundreds, maybe a thousand, of these plastic jugs on the roof of the laundromat. And these are, of course, liquid laundry detergent.

DEBRA: Right.

MARY ALLEN: Well, liquid laundry detergents are predominantly water. And so the carbon footprint of liquid laundry detergent is much higher because it’s mostly water. And so shipping predominantly water is not the best use for resources.

DEBRA: No, I’m afraid not.

MARY ALLEN: So that got Rita involved in the powder and doing some research to find good recipes for the powder.

Well, I would go over to her house. She would be in her kitchen counter. And the next thing you know, I’m helping her grate soap. And before her husband could even walk in the kitchen, there’s like piles of powder all over the kitchen.

So me, with my backgroun din merchandising and retailing and product development, I’m thinking, “Wow Rita! You could really do something with your laundry detergent.”

And so that sort of how it got started. We talked about selling it maybe at one of the Saturday morning markets, green markets that we have. And then she told me this name that she had thought of ‘Savvy Green.’ And of course with my product development and brand management background, I have a sense that I just loved the name “Savvy Green.”

I loved everything about it because ‘savvy’ is smart. And green is how we want to live. And we wanted to be clean. So that sort of how smart green and clean came along because of Savvy Green.

So from there, then we both got excited about Savvy Green and expanding on how to expand her powdered laundry detergent.

DEBRA: Well, I’ve been using your laundry detergent. And it works really well. And it has absolutely no fragrance. What made you decide to not put a fragrance on it?

MARY ALLEN: Well, so many, including myself, I’m not a big—even though I’ve been in the home goods, for some reason, scents in candles and in potpourri have a tendency make me not feel so great. And so many people I know are allergic to certain fragrances. And plus, so many fragrances are artificial.


MARY ALLEN: There are very, very few natural fragrances out there. There are essential oils. They’re out there. But so many are artificial, so we didn’t want to…

DEBRA: They are. Good!


DEBRA: One thing that just amazes me about laundry detergent being scented is that I can smell laundry detergent on people’s clothing. And why would a manufacturer want to clash with somebody’s personal choice to wear perfume or not just from an aesthetic viewpoint.

So, anyway, we need to go to break. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. This is Toxic Free Talk Radio. My guest today is Mary Allen from Savvy Green. Their website is You can go there and find out all about their cleaning products. But we’re going to talk about them right about after the break. We’ll be right back.


DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. My guest today is Mary Allen. She’s the co-owner of Savvy Green LLC with Rita Knorr. They’re in St. Petersburg Florida. And their website is where you can go and find out more about all the products we’re about to talk about. And you can also order them online because I think that they’re only in our stores locally here in Florida. Is that correct?

MARY ALLEN: Actually, believe it or not, we do have a great co-op in Chicago that we’re selling Savvy Green.

DEBRA: Great!

MARY ALLEN: We have two or three stores in New York city that we’re selling Savvy Green. We’re in North Carolina, Maryland, Tennessee. So we’re in a few stores around the southeast and northeast. And we’re working on expanding.

DEBRA: Well, listeners, if you don’t find it in your local stores, you can ask them for it. And maybe they’ll put them on their shelves because they really are very good products.

So tell us about it. Tell us first about the packaging because I know that’s really important to your company.

MARY ALLEN: Yes. It is very important because when Rita first started giving the gift in the glass jars, we thought, “Wow! Glass jars are very expensive.” And as you expand and want to ship, they could be a problem with the shipping. They’re heavy, and it could be cost-prohibitive for us to put the laundry detergent in. So we started…

DEBRA: Well, I saw a thing about glass. You were talking about not shipping water because of the extra cost of energy usage and pollution generated by that. Because glasses are heavy, it also adds to that same shipping problem of additional pollution produced by glass. So where it’s very non-toxic for people to use, if something else could be used for a container, it’s better for it. It reduces the amount of pollution that goes out into the environment.

MARY ALLEN: Right. And so for us to come up with a packaging of our own—living in Florida most powdered laundry detergents we were seeing always came in a cardboard box. And you couldn’t really reseal the cardboard box. And in Florida with our humidity—well, guess what? A lot of powdered laundry detergents in a cardboard box would end up clumping because moisture would get into the box. So we’re thinking, “Well, to come with just another cardboard box just didn’t make sense.”

So we started looking around for what could be an alternative to a cardboard box, and we started of thinking of using a flexible pouch. But we didn’t want to use any flexible pouch because, clearly, that’s plastic. I started doing more research and found a brand new innovative product that companies were beginning to use called ‘HTPE#2’ high density poly-ethylene. And it’s something that could actually be recycled with other plastic bags and products in the mainstream of recycling. And so that really interested us—and especially since our film comes from recycled material.

DEBRA: Oh, good!

MARY ALLEN: Yes. So and then any of the scraps from our packaging are then recycled.

So we did some research and found some companies that did this HTPE#2 pouch and took it from there. Of course, we had to have a great zipper because we wanted it to reseal every time. Since we’re both really into details, so many packages that you get after a few tries just don’t close anymore.

DEBRA: Yes. I’ve had that experience.

MARY ALLEN: So, we wanted to have a great zip-closure. So all of these things increased our price just a little bit, but we think that this attention to detail really gives us a high value product. So that’s how the package was born.

And the other thing that’s important about our package, I can tell you, is these water-based inks. And it’s a matte finish. So it’s really important to us. We wanted it to look very natural and clean-looking. And so the water-based inks that are used, they can be reused again if they they’re doing the printing process.

DEBRA: That’s wonderful. Yes.

MARY ALLEN: So there’s very little, if any, waste in our printing process.

DEBRA: And the ink doesn’t smell on the package either.

MARY ALLEN: Correct! And it’s just really one layer. Our package is a little thicker than most. It gives us a little better moisture barrier, so to speak, to keep the product from clumping. So that improves shelf-life and then it also improves it from any damage to the product.

We do get a little bit of wrinkling because the product is a little thicker than most. But it’s a tough package and it is recyclable which we’re very proud of. And because of that, we’ve actually won a few awards for our packaging. So we’re pretty excited about that because she’s a new company.

DEBRA: Yes. That’s very good. It’s very good. It’s very easy to just sit it on—it also stands up really well. Even though it’s a pouch, it stands up with the folds on the bottom of it. It stands up really well. I can just easily unzip it and easily re-zip it after I use it. The product itself has no fragrance. The plastic package has no outgassing from the inside, from the plastic. And you just did a really good job with that part of it.

MARY ALLEN: Thank you so much. It is a stand-up pouch. And what’s so great about it is takes up so much less space than so many other packages. It also is easy for people to pick up and hold. A lot of heavy car—first of all, we really wanted an ultra-concentrated powder because Rita’s product, you don’t really need to use very much, a tablespoon or less and you’re good to go.

We didn’t want to overdose. We didn’t want to include any directions that would cause you to overdose on using your detergent. And it’s really easy to hold and pick up. It feels good in your hands. And we’ve gotten a lot of compliments from a lot of people because of that because it is easy to hold and pick up and takes up less space.

DEBRA: Yes, it does. It does all those things. We need to go to break in just a few seconds. So when we come back I want you to tell us all about—you have three products. I want you to describe each one of them, so our listeners get an idea of what you have.

MARY ALLEN: Okay, great! Thank you.

DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. And my guest today is Mary Allen, co-owner of Savvy Green with her partner, Rita Knorr. And their website is We’ll be right back.


DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. My guest today is Mary Allen, co- owner of Savvy Green with Rita Knorr. And their website is

So, tell us about your products.

MARY ALLEN: Currently, Debra. We have three products—our powdered laundry detergent, our powdered dishwasher detergent and an oxygen brightening powder. They’re in our same package—refillable pouch. All are super concentrated.

Clearly, we wanted to be able to use one small scoop. And so the scoop is included in every package.

But the laundry detergent is—actually, all of our products are phosphate-free, chlorine-free, fragrance-free. The laundry detergent has 108 standard washes. It’s just slightly under a tablespoon that you use. And it really works. I’ve been using that product for quite a while. It’s biodegradable. It’s great for people with sensitive skin. It’s safe for babies and baby’s diapers. It’s safe for delicate fabrics.

We don’t recommend using softeners. In some cases, you might have to. If you have large clothes, you might have to use one and a half or two scoops. But in general, from everything I’ve heard, the number of washes really works because of its super concentration. You really don’t need that much in it.

And we don’t leave any residue. The product leaves no residue which is so terrific. In the dishwasher detergent, the same, no residue. Ultra-concentrated, you get 80 loads out of our dishwashing detergent.

And then, in the oxygen brightening powder, that’s basically a non-chlorine bleach. And you can use anywhere from half a scoop to three scoops depending on what you’re using. It’s a great destainer and deodorizer. You can use it in your laundry as a laundry booster. You can use alone to soak things in a bucket or in a sink to help remove stains.

So, currently, those are our three items. We will be coming out with the single dose packs in the fall in laundry and dishwasher detergent. So we’re really excited about that as well.

And those are the three products.

And of course, just FYI on the laundry detergent, it is good for front and top loading machines which is great. So it works great in both cold and warm water. So I can say that they really do work. My family uses them. And we get great reviews from the family, you know that you have a good product.

DEBRA: Right. So can you tell us what the ingredients are in each of those products?

MARY ALLEN: Oh, sure. So in the laundry detergent, we have sodium carbonate which is basically washing soda. We also have sodium methyl silicate which is a drying agent. It’s more or less a—I mean, it’s a detergent. It’s mineral-based detergent. And then we also have […] detergent which is a detergent. And so those are the three ingredients in the laundry detergent. It’s very clean, very organic mineral-based items in our detergent. And it’s mostly washing soda.


MARY ALLEN: It’s a very simple ingredient. And really, that’s all you need. It doesn’t leave chemicals in your clothes like some other products. It actually cleans your clothes, so you don’t need a fragrance to mask not very clean clothes.

DEBRA: My clothes seem very clean when I wash them. And it doesn’t seem like they have anything in them. They just are very clean. So, what’s in the dishwasher detergent?

MARY ALLEN: Oh boy. Well, let’s see. In the dishwashing detergent is much more complicated because of the food that you have to get out of your dishes. Let me just make sure that I’m reading this right now. Let’s remember that I’m not a chemist, Debra.

DEBRA: It’s okay.

MARY ALLEN: So if I don’t pronounce something right, you chemists that are watching this, please forgive.

But our ingredients in the dishwashing detergent are soda ash or sodium carbonate—just like our laundry detergent, it’s the base—sodium citrate, sodium sulphate, sodium methyl silicate, sodium bicarbonate, alcoholic oxalate, silica, sodium polyacrylate, protease and amylase enzymes, fatty alcohol polyglycol ether and then the sodium methyl glycol dye succinate.

All of these ingredients are naturally derived from plants and minerals. They’re either a water softener or a detergent. The enzymes actually are produced from living organisms and they’re like catalysts in the detergent that help remove stains.

They break down the starches and the proteins in the food that may be left on your dishes.

The sodium carbonate, its main use is for water softener. Sodium citrate does the softening as well. So, many of these ingredients are basically to soften the water, so that they can get clean. Things like sodium sulphate and silica, they’re actually used for anti-clumping. They keep the powder from clumping.

Let’s see, what did I forget here? The fatty alcohol polyglycol ether, that’s a rinse aid to keep your glasses and dishes from spotting.

So, all of these things are sourced from US companies in our dishwashing detergent.

DEBRA: Oh good.

MARY ALLEN: It’s very complicated I found to get a dishwashing detergent that’s super concentrated that cleans your dishes, that doesn’t leave the residue. And our dishwashing detergent, I believe, is really terrific.

DEBRA: Well, you know I don’t have a dishwasher which is why I haven’t tried yours, your dishwashing detergent. But I know that early on, when I was trying to find the home made recipes for all these things because products like yours definitely exist 30 years ago, it was really hard to find something that I could wash my dishes with just using my dishwasher that I did have at that time.

I just went to washing my dishes by hand because you can just use regular plain old soap to wash your dishes by hand. And I have been doing that now for more than 30 years. I’m just accustomed to doing it that way.

I’m not saying that people shouldn’t buy your product if they have a dishwasher, but I don’t think we need to have a machine to do everything.


DEBRA: Yes. Well, I have a washing machine because it’s really hard to wash clothes.


DEBRA: It’s really hard to wash clothes by hand, and then hang them up on your drier and on the clothesline and stuff. So I do have a washer and a drier. But for dishes, I just wash them by hand with soap.

MARY ALLEN: I was going to say, I used to do most of my dishes by hand as well. But I found over time, I think, that you may use actually use less water by using your dishwasher more. And if you can find something that’s an efficient cleaner, it really makes a difference.

And so I started using my dishwasher once I found the product that I liked. And with our dishwashing detergent, you can still use a rich rinse agent as you normally would.


MARY ALLEN: And then our oxygen brightening powder is basically two ingredients. I mean it is two ingredients. It’s sodium bicarbonate—and again sodium carbonate. So both are cleaning, softening agents. Sodium bicarbonate is—I guess the best way to say is it’s a non-chlorine bleach. It whitens, it brightens, it cleans.

DEBRA: Right.

MARY ALLEN: It’s a great product. And this oxygen brightening powder is terrific and has so many uses.

It’s not a proprietary formula. A lot of different companies have an oxygen brightening powder, but we felt like it was important for us to get one out there because…

DEBRA: To go with your detergent.

MARY ALLEN: …because it goes with our detergent, right.


MARY ALLEN: And it really helps clean. You don’t need a liquid stain remover. It does the job.

DEBRA: Yes. Well, we’ve only got about just over a minute left. So are there any final things you would like to say that we haven’t covered?

MARY ALLEN: I can just say that we are looking to expand into more stores. We’re obviously a new company. So hopefully, people will check our website out and follow us as we grow. And please do tell your local stores about Savvy Green.

Debra, we just appreciate you being so interested in our company and hearing more about our products.

DEBRA: Thank you so much. So that was Mary Allen and her website is Remember the ‘.net.’ It’s not “” It’s Go check out their website, and find out all about their products.

And if they don’t carry them at your local store, then you can ask your store, tell them about it, and see if they’ll stock it for you.

I really like this laundry product. It just really gets my clothes clean. I have used some other natural ones that have their own natural fragrances. But this one absolutely has no fragrance, smell, odor, anything about it. So if you’re looking for something fragrance-free that works and is all natural, this is it.

So you’ve been listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. You can find out more about other shows and listen to the archives by going to I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. Be well.


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