Tom’s of Maine’s brand-new Botanically-Fresh toothpaste, only available at Whole Foods, is a combo of fresh-fresh mint and tea-tree, chamomile, sage, clove, and myrrh oils.
It’s easy to forget that we still can (and do!) make lots of stuff in the United States. While we have written often on this site about the importance of clothing manufacture in the US, we haven’t often covered other products. I was reminded of this when I got the chance to visit Tom’s Of Maine’s factory in Kennebunk (which is part of Kennebunkport—or vice versa—I never did get that clarified!). They make toothpastes, deodorant and mouthwash right there in Maine, employing lots of local people and contributing to their community as well.
I’ve been using Tom’s toothpaste since I was a kid (shoutout to their crazy-herbal flavors! They make mint too, of course), and Eco-Chick has been part of the company’s Goodness Circle for two years, so the company was kind enough to invite me out to visit the area and see how Tom’s (which now makes soaps, deodorants, and lots of good stuff for kids nowadays) makes its magic.
As you can see from the seaside shot above, Kennebunkport is beyond beautiful (I’m writing up a whole feature just on the fabulous town, activities and accommodations there, so keep an eye out for that!).
We got a surprise after an off-the-charts delicious, local meal at MC Perkins Cove—I’d highly recommend a visit there if you are in the area for whatever’s fresh and in season (Chefs Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier are James Beard Award Winning “Best Chefs of the Northeast”) My veggie plate, above, was incredible, and the seafood and meats are also sustainable and local.
The surprise was that all of us in the Goodness Circle got a sneak peek at a new product that I can’t talk about yet; but needless to say, Tom’s has lots more great products up their sleeves that you’ll see on store shelves soon! One of the reasons I love Tom’s of Maine is for all the stuff they DON’T have in their toothpastes, like animal ingredients, artificial flavors, artificial colors, artificial sweeteners and sodium laureth sulfate—here’s a full, transparent rundown of all the ingredients the company uses—and why!
Speaking of new products and shelves, it was really fun to visit the factory, because I love seeing all the machines at work—I take factory tours whenever possible on my travels, but in this case the Tom’s factory isn’t typically open to visitors: We were VIPs! (We were part of the Tom’s Goodness Circle for 2 years, which is how we got this special invite). PS. That’s me on the left side!
What’s amazing about the Tom’s of Maine factory is that it went zero-waste in 2015—that’s right: Everything was reused or recycled, or engineered to cut waste out from the beginning. Tom’s is super-passionate about environmental standards, and finds solutions to issues other companies don’t. See the video below, about how they re-engineered their deodorant packaging to make it curbside-recyclable friendly.
I can’t show you pictures from inside the factory (though in the video above, you can get an idea!), as we were all covered up with gear and also: trade secrets! But the day we visited they were making toothpaste and mouthwash, and it smelled as good as you’d expect—minty fresh everywhere!
Part of our visit also included doing some volunteer work at a local nature center; (Above) I spent time clearing trails (something I used to do growing up quite a bit!); Tom’s made this part of our visit since the company’s employees similarly are encouraged to use 5% (12 days) of paid time to volunteer. And they take a company day each year to volunteer together. Where they spend their time is up to them: Some volunteer at animal shelters or soup kitchens every month, while some take a week all at the same time to do a volunteer project from start-to-finish.
Can you imagine volunteering at your favorite local organization and getting paid by your company to do it? Seriously, that’s just awesome. My very first job at a nonprofit community center in NYC had such a policy, but nowhere else I’ve worked since. How amazing would the world be if everyone was paid to spend 5% of their work time helping doing what needed to get done?
Full disclaimer: Eco-Chick was a paid member of the Tom’s of Maine Goodness Circle and my trip to Kennebunkport was paid for, but all the above is my own opinion, I do really use Tom’s (and grew up using the products, for real!) and I remain a fan of the brand independent of the above info.