Earth Day 2024 Interview with Peg Paste Founder Kagan Williams

Earth Day 2024: Kagan Williams of Peg Paste Interview

In honour of Earth Day 2024, I had the privilege of interviewing Kagan Williams, the founder of Natural Oral Care range, Peg Paste. In this interview we talk about about the brands sustainability practices and how they are different to other conventional toothpastes on the market. Watch the video above or read the transcript below:

Marisa: Peg Paste was introduced to me about 12 months ago, but for anyone new, can you please share more about the brand and how Peg Paste differs to other toothpastes on the market?

Kagan: Yeah, sure. So Peg Paste is an Australian oral care brand and we craft premium natural toothpaste products designed to optimise health and overall well-being, in a holistic way. While we are also combating landfill waste, the waste crisis we face as a globe, through our sustainable packaging design.

Marisa: I love that your formulation is more holistic than others that I've used in the past, and it also contains prebiotics. Is that right?

Kagan: Prebiotics, yes.

Marisa: Can you talk more about that and your more holistic approach and how that supports gut health and things like that?

Kagan: Yeah, so oral health is linked to so many vital components of health, which is why it's so important to maintain it well. But yeah, let's focus on gut health for a minute.

So the mouth is basically the gateway to the rest of our bodies. So it isn't just for eating food, it's also the second largest environment of bacteria after the gut. So it harbours over 700 species of bacteria, both good and bad. So it's really important that we keep that environment really, really healthy. If we don't take care of our oral health, this microbial ecosystem with all this bacteria in it, if that gets out of control it can cause all sorts of health issues, from bad breath to cancer to pregnancy complications. Like it is super serious that we keep it healthy and maintain that.

So we've added inulin-rich prebiotic chicory root to our toothpaste formulation, which works to basically fertilise and nourish all of the good bacteria. Some people get confused between probiotics and probiotics, but it nourishes all that good bacteria (probiotics) within the mouth so they can thrive to support the gut, digestive and immune health as well.

Marisa: That's incredible and that's such a unique take on something which we all use every single day and probably don't give a second thought about and the link that it has to our gut health and overall health. I guess it stands to reason that if we're worried about what we're putting on our skin, then what we are putting in our mouths is just as important.

Kagan: Totally, and so frequently as well. Exactly. That's it.

Marisa: I want to talk more about your signature toothpaste bottle, because not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but it always dispenses the perfect amount of toothpaste. My husband and I have already gone through about 4 bottles because it's just so easy to use and it really does dispense the perfect amount. I wondered if you could talk more about the design, because it is, I guess, a lot different to a traditional toothpaste tube and why you chose this over that?

Kagan: There are two main reason behind the pump, practicality and sustainability.

No matter what brand or trendy design, screw lid, attach lid, whatever, I found traditional toothpaste tubes so messy and frustrating to use, especially when it's nearing the end of the tube and it's all crusted over and there's hardly anything left, and you literally having to fight with it and squeeze with all of your strength to get the final bit out. It used to annoy me so much, and so many other people I spoken to, it annoyed them as well. So that was the first thing when designing the packaging, I wanted to address that practicality issue about something that we're using every single day in our lives, and wanted to simplify something that should be just simple.

The second reason was to address a waste issue and create something that was a lot more sustainable than traditional toothpaste tubes. It's not just about the packaging, the physical material itself, but also how long is it lasting, you know, and all sorts of stuff like this. So not only does our product last a lot longer, given the airless design meaning that as you're pumping it and the bottom's lifting up, there's literally zero product wastage.

It's also double the size of standard toothpaste tubes and fully recyclable. So this all means that you're having to purchase toothpaste less frequently because you've got this large size which is lasting you a lot longer. That also means that there's less packaging waste out there in the environment. For every two traditional tubes of toothpaste, you're using one recyclable pump.

And then once you've run out of Peg Paste, that packaging can be recycled in your regular household recycling and made into new plastic products.

Marisa: Which is so important and I can't remember the exact figure but how long does it normally take for a traditional tube to break down in landfill?

Kagan: 500 years!

Marisa: Oh, gosh that makes me sick even hearing that.

Kagan: Yeah, they're digging holes and throwing waste into it, and it just rots over hundreds and hundreds of years.

Marisa: That is insane. Well, at least it makes me feel better knowing that I'm not contributing to the waste. And like you said, it's fully recyclable in just the normal curb-side recyclable pickup which is perfect.

Kagan: You have to make it easy. People are busy. Some products are marketed to be recyclable, but there's all these extra steps that people have to do. You'd hope that people would do them for the right reasons but people don't. So it had to be easy to just be able to throw out with your milk carton or whatever.

Marisa: I love that and it's really thoughtful because there's nothing worse than getting that product and on the back it will break down the recycling steps. It's like the lid can only go into the bin. The bottom could go into recycle, the box can go into this. Like why are there so many moving parts to this one product? So thank you for making it so easy for everyone.

I guess with toothpaste being that household staple, why do you think other brands haven't adopted a more sustainable packaging method?

Kagan: it could be many things and if I'm going to take a stab, I don't want to speak on anyone's behalf, but it could be greed, costs, impatience, carelessness, a combination of of all that.

It takes a lot more time and money to operate in ethical and sustainable ways. We see corners cut in every single industry and someone has to pay for it. So most of the time brands would rather see consumers or maybe even their employees paying the price than wear it themselves for more sustainable packaging or operations or procedures, whatever.

So each to their own. But we don't operate in this way.

I have my consumer hat on with every business decision that I make, it's so important placing yourself as the consumer and I didn't create this to make money, and build up something to then sell it in a couple of years. I really wanted to make something, not only for me and my family to use, but for other people to commit to as a life essential, forever.

Marisa: I think that comes across really clearly in everything that you've done as well. You can tell this is from the heart. You can tell you've put so much soul into the product. It would be easy to just go and create another toothpaste tube and label it as a holistic formula and go down the road so many others have, but you haven't. You've done it so differently and in such a way that I really love it being on my vanity. It looks so sleek amongst my other things, whereas, you know, the other packaging can look a little tacky.

Peg Paste holds a really special space in our routines. You can tell when a founder has put so much effort and care into something, and that really does shine through in what you've done.

Kagan: Thanks so much. I really, really appreciate it. A lot of work and love has gone in. And, I'm always considering that any time I'm, you know, away from my kids or my husband, I'm not being the active mum that I love to be, I'm working on this so I try to make it all count.

Marisa: You can really tell. And you guys launched almost a year to the day. Was it last April?

Kagan: Yes, Happy Birthday to us. I better organise a little like party for the team.

Marisa: And I saw today you were doing a photoshoot for some new flavours you're going to launch. Can you talk more about those or anything else that you're going to release in the future?

Kagan: Yeah, so you can expect more toothpaste products to be dropping within the next month or so. We have to be patient, the world of manufacturing can be tedious. There's a more intense version of our current mint toothpaste which our customers have been screaming for. So many people love using the natural mint, but sometimes people want that extra intensity.

And then another epic formula that's infused with Mother Nature's most potent anti-bacteria fighting compound. So that's going to be a real winner and I'm so excited about that. Plus some other exciting oral care products that the dental health industry has honestly been screaming for. We work with a lot of dental professionals to seek their feedback. What are their patients saying? What issues do they keep saying, particularly with young kids, you know, that are coming into their clinics? How can we, as an oral health care brand, help to curb this or prevent these issues in some way? So we're working closely with some industry professionals to formulate some great products.

Marisa: That's so exciting. Well, I can't wait to see what you come up with and I'm sure it'll be amazing. If I can put in a request, I would love a great mouthwash.

Kagan: Oh, yeah. Watch this space!

Marisa: I seem to be hard to come across. I've only tried a couple, and either they're not vegan or they're not cruelty free.

Kagan: Our formulator Ayla is so innovative in her approach. she's fantastic. So we've got some really, really great ideas on the cards for hopefully in the near future.

Marisa: Fingers crossed! Thank you so, so much for joining us for Earth Day and for creating such an incredible product, I really appreciate it.

Kagan: Thank you so much and thanks for highlighting some some great founders, to shed light on this and celebrate Earth Day, make people, you know, wake up and really care about the planet that we're all living in.

Marisa: Well, we only get one, don't we? So we've got to make the most of it and we've got to take care of it. And founders such as yourself and the others that I've spoken to, you're all doing such incredible work in the space, and it needs to be highlighted and I hope people become more aware and make those switches too.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.