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It all started as a joke, according to Izzy Turk, co-founder of Kelowna-based biodegradable doggie poop bag company Earthly.
"It was a pretty shitty idea," says Turk with a laugh.
"Selling poop bags is not where I thought I would end up. But, after my business partner and I stopped laughing, we realized this was a super-simple business idea, one that we could start on the side while we have other jobs, plus we both love animals."
There's lots of poop bags out there.
"But, what really makes Earthly exciting is that it's biodegradable, so we're reducing plastic waste," says Turk.
"And while there may be other biodegradable poop bag companies out there, they usually donate a portion of their sales to animal shelters, which is great and makes sense. But, to be different we decided to donate a portion of our sales to One Tree Planted, which is involved in reforestation projects all over the world. Trees have such a wide base of appeal, too."
In fact, the company has been branded Earthly/Poop Bags That Plant Trees.
In the year Earthly has been operating, sales of 100,000 boxes of poop bags have funded the planting of 1,600 trees, mostly in BC and California.
California because Turk's business partner and Earthly co-founder is his friend, Ziad Jureidini, who lives in the Golden State.
The two met as they were starting their careers two decades ago in the United Arab Emirates -- Turk as a hospitality consultant and Jureidini at an advertising agency.
Turk is from Montreal and is of Lebanese descent.
Jureidini is Lebanese and speaks French, as Turk does, so when the two met in the ex-pat community they hit it off and discussed going into business together some day.
The pair kept in touch over the next 20 years as they moved around for their jobs.
But, it wasn't until the pandemic hit that they had the time to actually collaborate on a business together.
Thus, the 'shitty idea' turned into the going concern that is Earthly.
By this time, Turk had moved from Los Angeles to Kelowna with his wife and their daughters because his wife's mom lives here.
While Turk now works as a fitness and nutrition coach at Bodyshop in West Kelowna and Jureidini in marketing in California, the goal is to make Earthly their full-time gig.
"Our goal is to plant one million trees, so that's a lot of Earthly poop bags sold and a big business that we can work in full-time," says Turk.
Earthly poop bags are made in China and are biodegradable and bio-based certified by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
What that means is the 9-inch-by-13-inch, guaranteed leak-proof bags are made of 38% corn starch.
Once the bag is used, contains poop and is thrown in the garbage, the moisture that comes into contact with the bag starts to biodegrade as microorganisms attack the material.
At the landfill, in one year, the 38% of the bag that's corn starch and the poop fully biodegraded.
That still leaves 62% of the bag that's plastic.
Earthly decided to go with this formula of biodegradable bag instead of compostable bags, which fully break down.
Compostable bags are expensive to make, only have a shelf life of one year before they start to disintegrate and when filled with dog poop they should not be composted because dog poop has bacteria that's bad for compost.
Currently, Earthly's doggie poop bags, either unscented or lavender, are only for sale on www.amazon.ca and www.amazon.com in boxes of 120 bags (8 rolls of 15 bags) for $10.64, which works out to 9 cents per bag.
If you check out the www.loveearthly.com website it has lots of information about the product and company concept and if you hit 'buy now' you'll be redirected to Amazon.
"Amazon gives us great exposure and is a great way for us to build primary sales," says Turk.
"We're also now working with distributors in BC and Ontario and California so Earthly can be sold in stores. And, I'm in touch with the City of Kelowna and Big White to see if they will put them in the poop bag dispensers at dog parks and trails. We've also donated boxes to the RCMP and BC SPCA."