Earth Friendly Products celebrates 50 years
PARSIPPANY – An environmentally conscious business celebrated its “50 years of green” in the township Thursday, with Senator Robert Menendez stopping by the facility to address employees.
Menendez (D-NJ) congratulated Earth Friendly Products, known for its ECOS line of products, on its 50th anniversary in Parsippany. He applauded the company for five decades of growth, innovation and job creation in what he described as a globally successful enterprise.
What began as a passion project in a garage is now a global industry leader in 60 worldwide markets, embracing higher standards without charging higher prices, Menendez said.
“But Earth Friendly Products is more than just a profitable business. They are a company that proves you can do well and do good at the same time,” Menendez said. “Having a company that has people who have spent a quarter century of their life with the company is a pretty powerful statement to the company and how they treat their employees. You treat your employees right and you reap the benefits.”
Menendez and a representative for Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ-11) both presented CEO Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks with American flags that had flown outside the Capitol building in Washington to commemorate the occasion.
Vlahakis-Hanks expressed how proud her father, who founded the company and passed away a few years ago, would have been to fly the flags outside the building.
State Senator Joseph Pennacchio (R-26) also congratulated the company on its anniversary.
“50 years ago I think I was just finishing up my Little League career,” he said.
Pennocchio thanked Earth Friendly Products for employing 60 people in his district among its hundreds of employees nationwide.
“There is nothing more noble you can do for a person than give them a job,” he said, crediting the company for providing its employees with a $17 per hour minimum wage, $10 per hour higher than the federal minimum. “If you want to attract good employees, you want to retain them, you have to pay them. Sometimes you think eco-friendly and business are diametrically opposed, but they’re not. There is no difference between eco-friendly and business interests. And you are a strong example in Parsippany.”
Earth Friendly Products broke its first “green science barrier” when it opened in Parsippany in 1967. The company offers more than 200 environmentally friendly products under the ECOS brand, including laundry detergent, grooming products, pet products, and baby products.
“The truth is if more of America’s biggest corporations embraced the values championed by ECOS, we would have a safer climate, we would have more good paying jobs, and a more prosperous, sustainable economy for all Americans,” Menendez said.
“So when I hear big oil lobbyists say environmental standards are bad for business, I’m going to tell them the next time they come to visit me, come to ECOS, a green manufacturer here in New Jersey that exports products to customers in 60 countries and wears the EPA’s highest designation as a badge of honor.
“And when I hear my colleagues in congress say that big corporations can’t afford a higher minimum wage I’m going to tell them about ECOS, a company that proves paying workers a living wage is good for the bottom line.
“And when I hear them say that immigrants are a drag on America’s economy, I’m going to point to ECOS, a company that began with a hardworking immigrant who was willing to dream big.
“Too often the American people are told by big corporations that we can’t afford to go green or reduce carbon emissions or treat employees fairly. But that’s a lie. And if anyone needs proof, I’ll tell them to come to Parsippany, New Jersey. Tell them to look to a company that embodies the best of American idealism. To look to a company that has proven that what is good for the environment, and good for workers, also happens to be good for business.”
Vlahakis-Hanks said it was important to celebrate the anniversary of the company so close to Earth Day, which is next Saturday. She noted that Earth Day was celebrating its 47th anniversary this year and her company had been around longer than the holiday.
“Earth Day started in 1970. It started when 20 million people got together – Democrats, Republicans, students, workers, rich, poor – and they all advocated for environmental protection to be placed on our national agenda,” Vlahakis-Hanks said. “And as I stand here today, this year, Earth Day will be celebrated by over a billion individuals in 192 countries.”
Vlahakis-Hanks encouraged everyone in attendance to continue to fight for environmental protection and sustainability.
“Make sure to make your voice heard. Be active in your community, talk with your representatives, including the ones that are here today,” Vlahakis-Hanks said. “Never ever stop fighting for your health and planet Earth.”
Attendees of the anniversary event enjoyed a sustainable vegan luncheon, with food including vegetable rice paper rolls and veggie burgers, and a bronze statue of Earth Friendly Products founder Van Vlahakis was unveiled.
There were also guided tours of the facility, so people could see first-hand how the eco-friendly cleaning products are made.
One of four manufacturing plants nationwide, the Parsippany facility is carbon neutral, water natural, and Zero Waste Platinum certified, saving more than 53 million pounds of carbon dioxide annually and diverting more than 95 percent of all waste from landfills.