Sunshine Coast woman Maria Faalafi’s search for sustainable and chemical free products to manage her own health has led to her creating a new online marketplace as a one-stop-shop for consumers like her.
Around 10 years ago, Maria was an engineer drafter living a busy life. But in her twenties, out of nowhere she started feeling unwell, getting severe migraines, and experienced rapid weight loss, blurry vison, dizziness, chronic fatigue and digestive issues that led to anxiety and depression. While her friends were out partying and building their careers, Maria felt so ill she could barely get out of bed.
While her medical team tried to determine her condition, Maria decided to remove any unnecessary chemicals in her life, including chemically loaded household and beauty products, and replaced unhealthy foods with organic, natural foods packed with nutrients.
Eventually Maria was diagnosed with several food allergies and reactive hypoglycaemia, a disease unknown to many medical professionals and forgotten about in many textbooks.
Her lifestyle changes helped her manage the diagnosis, but also inspired a change in her stressful career. She also found a passion for helping others live healthier, more sustainable lives.
Over the past 10 years, Maria and her husband ran a successful kitchen hire business and an organic cafe in West End, Brisbane called Green Bees Organics.
After becoming a mum, Maria decided to sell the businesses and concentrate on motherhood.
While online shopping (to avoid shopping centre tantrums) Maria soon discovered that finding eco-friendly products was not only time consuming, but also expensive, as she would pay multiple shipping costs when buying products from multiple websites.
As a solution, Maria started Eco Marketplace, a one-stop shop for eco-conscious consumers looking for all natural eco-friendly products.
“When I was first looking for eco products I’d be scrolling website upon website, eBay and Amazon and found it hard to find what I needed. I wanted to find products that were good for me, my family and the environment,” Maria said.
“I decided I didn’t want to sell my own products, but I wanted to help other businesses doing the ‘right thing’ through one channel, making eco products more easily accessible and affordable. That’s how I came to the idea of ECO Marketplace.”
ECO Marketplace now boasts over 700 eco products from 45 merchants, with new merchants signing up every day. Not every business can list their products though; they must pass a criteria to show they are eco-friendly.
“Another reason ECO Marketplace is a great tool for people to live more sustainable lives or to eat more organically is that I’ve done the hard work for them in determining if the product is eco-friendly or not,” Maria said.
“Each vendor must pass a selection criteria that ensures all products are never tested on animals, are environmentally friendly, have no synthetic fragrances and are non-toxic.”
Products on ECO Marketplace vary from gifts to fashion, homewares, healthy treats and even natural pet products. The site also allows for eco gift hampers or gift registries for special occasions.
Products range from the quirky to the healthy, such as 100% Sustainable Seed Pencils – once the pencil is used, it is planted to grow anything from basil to sunflowers – Essential Oil Crystal Gemstone Roller Bottles, zero waste beauty products, books and MYO bundles.
For more information on ECO Marketplace visit www.ecomarketplace.com.au.
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