Dan van Zyl founded Earthly in 2019 out of his garage and hasn’t looked back since. Toothpaste Bits weren’t his idea and he doesn’t pretend to have invented this seemingly brilliant solution to the billions of toothpaste tubes filling up our landfills and oceans each year.
The idea originated, as far as he can tell, from an American lady called Lindsay McCormick from the USA who was fed up with this epidemic and decided to do something about it. Dan was to follow suit and developed South Africa’s first Toothpaste Bits (featured in our Guide to Eco-Friendly Shopping Online). The Bits contain all plant based and natural ingredients and are not only better for the environment but much better for you as well.
Dan believes that people all around the world and especially in South Africa want to help save the environment and make a positive difference – Earthly just provides them with an opportunity to do so. Earthly offers a new perspective on brushing your teeth. No more harsh chemicals in your toothpaste and no more plastic tubes that end up in our landfill. Dan van Zyl refuses to accept the current norm but instead aims towards creating a new sustainable habit together. Bit by Bit. By taking a Little Less.
Let’s get to know Dan van Zyl a little better!
Tell us how Earthly came to be – and how it has impacted your life.
I started Earthly after a previously failed green business venture – with all the lessons that I learned I started Earthly; never assume your target market is everyone. I used a lean startup approach when starting a business and I started Earthly in the correct manner. I really wanted to do something that made a difference.
If you had a theme song, what would it be?
Scatterlings of Africa – Johnny Clegg
What is the biggest risk you have ever taken?
If Mars were liveable, would you accept a one-way ticket there?
No, by the time I get there I’d be too old; I can spend my time more wisely by fixing what is broken here.
If you were given one thousand acres of land what would you do with it?
Use it for the business to create a fully sustainable environment such as creating forms of renewable energy
Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer?
How many pairs of shoes do you own?
If we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us?
Probably a good old braai
How would people communicate in a perfect world?
Honestly and transparently
Where do you find your inspiration?
I find inspiration by wanting to work for myself and not for someone else, as well as looking at green problems and trying to come up with sustainable solutions for them.
If you woke up to 300 unread emails, how would you prioritise which ones to answer?
I will prioritise customer care related emails first, secondly will be sales-related emails. The third will just be general emails.
Where do you go and what do you do to find peace and recharge?
I like to go to a farm or into nature
If you could write one new law that everybody had to obey, what would it be?
No more single-use plastics are allowed.
What, if anything, have you ever re-gifted?
No I have never re-gifted anything
What is the most interesting thing you have seen or read this week?
What skill or craft would you like to master?
Learning to speak another South African language, probably Zulu or Xhosa
What would you say are some small steps that people can take to improve their relationship to the environment?
Try and reduce your plastic usage by 10% each year, that way in 10 years you will basically be plastic-free.