Updated: Jun 24
Meet the brand taking non-toxic and eco-conscious living to a whole new level – with natural and organic bar soaps and shampoo
I had the chance to speak with Monique Garraud Kofsky, the founder of the Brooklyn-based brand Butter + Lye. She’s taking the lead in the world of non-toxic living, using her background in biochemistry and passion for human and environmental health to formulate soaps, shampoos, and dish soaps (amongst other eco-conscious products!).
What sets Butter + Lye apart from the rest?
Gone are the days of plastic waste. Each product is carefully formulated into a bar –
Bar dish soap
Did I also mention bamboo dish brushes and an agave fiber washcloth?
Butter + Lye is dedicated to environmental and human health and takes great lengths to do so. Behind the mission of Butter + Lye is a quest to remain fully transparent, beneficial to the people and the planet, and to be a role model for other brands not quite up to speed with sustainable practices.
Check out the Q & A with the brand’s founder below to learn more about:
how the brand came to be
how it practices eco-conscious and clean habits
some tips for the wannabe toxin-free guru!
Q: What is the mission of Butter + Lye, and how did the brand come into fruition?
A: “The mission of Butter + Lye is to show people how easy it is to incorporate eco-friendly habits into their everyday lives, and not just how easy, but also how beneficial it is.
The reason I started Butter + Lye is because I had adult acne and had a really hard time beating it. I tried prescriptions from the dermatologist, ProActiv, and everything on the internet – and I found a lot of these things worked, but nothing kept my acne away. So I knew I needed to change my entire skincare routine.
My background is in biochemistry and I started studying different soap formulations. I realized the soap I was using weren’t even soaps – they were cleansers. So if you use a Dove bar, for instance, it says moisturizing bar. It doesn’t say soap because it is not allowed to be called soap. So I did more research on the history of soap and what it is, and I started making my own soap.
My acne went away after using homemade soap, and my skin was actually healthy. I started sharing the soap with my family and friends - my husband started using it, my sister who helps me with Butter + Lye, and everyone was saying the same thing. Whether it be dry patches or acne or oily skin, all of these things went away and their skin was finally healthy and balanced. After I saw it wasn’t just me experiencing these results, I decided to start Butter + Lye.”
Pictured: Monique Garraud Kofsky, the founder of Butter + Lye
photographed by @vysynphotos
Q: What makes Butter + Lye environmentally friendly?
A: “I’ve always been an environmental advocate, and I’m a bit of a serial entrepreneur, and I knew how I wanted this company to be completely different is I would be building it from the ground up as environmentally friendly.
I’d consider - Is this going to be good for the community first and then the earth? And if my answer is yes to both of those questions, then I will allow that decision to be made for the business.
What makes Butter + Lye environmentally-friendly is all these decisions I made over the years that are earth- and people-friendly. For example, I knew I wanted my shipping to be carbon neutral, so I looked up a carbon-neutral shipper. They buy out empty space in trucks that are going out because people are excited to get things next-day. But they don’t realize the ecological impact of next-day shipping, so they’re either getting things flown into you or shipped out in half empty trucks. So with the company that I use, it buys empty space in trucks and only allows you to ship out tiny packages – luckily all my packages are small. And [this company] contributes to different earth friendly initiatives to make sure the carbon they use for shipping is offset.
But that wasn’t just enough – I wanted to make sure every aspect [of Butter + Lye] was eco- friendly. I wanted to use completely recycled and compostable packaging and use very little ink on my packaging – so there isn’t amazing shelf appeal, but it is done with purpose. I wanted to make sure you could take the box after using the soap, rip it into small pieces, add it to your garden and add water, and that the box will be gone in a few months and become part of the environment. Every single decision made is making sure [the customer] follows the same thought process. This is what makes Butter + Lye environmentally-friendly.”
Q: What is one piece of advice you would give to your customers so they can get the most out of your products?
A: “If buying soap or shampoo or the solid dish bar – keep it dry. A lot of products out there, especially if getting a commercial bar of soap, have extra chemicals added to them so they can harden. Natural bar soap seemingly melts faster because it doesn’t have all those additives to make it harder. The main thing is if you want that bar to last long, keep it as dry as possible. We have different soap dishes on the site to help mitigate moisture of the bar. It is best to store it on something slotted so it doesn’t sit in a pool of water, which is beneficial to the longevity of the bar.”
Q: Which Butter + Lye product is your favorite?
A: “This is a hard question - I use all of them. I’m very obsessed with using them and I love the products a lot!
I’m selling them because I’m really passionate about these formulas and have spent years formulating and testing them. Right now in the dry winter months, I’d say my favorite at the moment is the rosehip face and body bar - it’s very moisturizing and nice because I don’t feel like I need to put a lot of lotion on my body after showering with that bar.”
Q: Can you take us behind-the-scenes through your ingredient selection process?
A: “Number 1: I strive to get organic ingredients wherever I can and also made domestically. There are a few things you just can’t find domestically or get organic, so I’ll make some exceptions for those things, but most of the time, I will find a replacement for those ingredients.
Then I take a look at the chemical makeup. If I’m deciding on a new soap, I want to make sure all of the oil has the right fatty acid composition to produce the bar I’m looking for. So if I want something to be bubbly, I’ll add castor oil. If I want something cleansing – coconut oil. If I want something moisturizing – olive oil and sunflower oil and things of that nature. I’ll just look at what I’m trying to achieve and find a natural product to achieve that, then see how everything works together with extensive testing by myself and a crew of people that do testing for me. And they will give me feedback and complete surveys, and I’ll determine if that bar makes it to the next step.”
Q: What piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out their journey toward a more toxin-free and environmentally-conscious lifestyle?
A: “If I were 100% eco-friendly and did everything right in my life, I still wouldn’t have as much of an impact as if everyone, all 7 billion people in the world, did one thing right for every day in their lives. It’s really the little things that count, and don’t think because you can’t do 100% zero waste, that it won’t make a difference.
I always tell people, don’t be discouraged because you can’t get everything right. The world isn’t set up for you to get everything right, right now. We have a lot of development to do in terms of pollution and plastic and global warming, so don’t think you have to do everything.
The smallest thing you can do makes a difference, and do it and keep doing it - like saying no to plastic utensils, or support eco-friendly brands, or go to a local boutique instead of ordering from Amazon. Anything you can do that is environmentally-conscious can make a difference.”
Why Butter + Lye Makes the Cut
A product by Butter + Lye must fit strict safety criteria before landing in the hands of a consumer:
Butter + Lye products are formulated with safe ingredients.
Butter + Lye strives for ingredient transparency, so customers know exactly what they are putting onto their bodies.
Butter + Lye practices safe manufacturing.
There are many fantastic brands out there taking the lead in the "clean-living" movement. Butter + Lye stands out for its sustainable and eco-conscious business model. The brand is environmentally-friendly through and through, from the second it leaves Brooklyn to the moment (and moments after!) it hits your door step.
For more information about Butter + Lye, follow the brand on Instagram (@butterandlye) or head over to butterandlye.com.
*This article is neither affiliated with nor endorsed by Butter + Lye. Butter + Lye was selected for this piece because it encompasses the values set forth by JG Copywrite Me’s toxin-free initiative.
All photos supplied by Butter + Lye