Katie Scott started out helping people make their houses more beautiful. Now her mission is to make their surroundings healthier and greener, too.
Growing up, Scott loved art. She felt lucky that, not long after graduating from Nauset High School, she found a job that was all about color, at the Sherwin-Williams store in Orleans. Over the course of a decade, she found herself leading the company’s color program in Boston and beyond.
Back home in Brewster, she indulged her maker side, exploring homemade home and beauty products. “I’ve always been handy,” she says. So, about five years ago, “I started taking that energy and putting it into creating things for taking care of myself and my home in a more eco-friendly way.”
Now she’s doing that for customers at her shop, Pure Vita Modern Apothecary in Eastham.
Reducing waste, and especially plastics, was a main focus for her business, so Scott is pleased about the way the shop has come together: “I’d say 95 percent of everything here is upcycled.” The live-edged wooden shelves were made from storm-downed trees by a hobbyist in Orleans, she says. The tables and baskets came from the Brewster Swap Shop. Her landlord, Darin Krum, who runs Ace Hardware a few doors down from her, has been supportive, too, offering her space at a rate that’s reasonable for a fledgling business owner, she says.
Scott’s first big hit was laundry detergent. Her homemade mixture, which includes baking soda and castile soap, really worked. Friends and family raved about it, so she scaled up and brought it to the farmers markets in Provincetown and Chatham. “People would say, ‘Do you ship that stuff?’ ” Scott says. That spurred her dream of a store full of eco-friendly solutions.
She couldn’t make everything, though. “I worked to find products that fit our criteria and vibe — all-natural, as much as possible local, and no synthetic colorings or fragrances,” Scott says. “I’m a stickler for using only pure essential oils.”
Though there’s lots to choose from at Pure Vita, Scott recommends a practical approach to changing your household routines. Trying to go green all at once can be overwhelming, she says: “Just take it one thing at a time.”
A good starting place, she says, is the laundry room. “Most people don’t have a big emotional tie to the laundry detergent they use,” Scott says. “They just want their clothes to get clean.”
Scott stocks her own formula in bulk. But her collection includes detergent in laundry soap strips, which she recommends for elders who cannot lift big jugs or containers. “And because they make measurement easy and can’t be spilled, they’re great for kids too,” Scott says. A boon for those who are teaching their children to do the laundry.
The cleansers you scrub surfaces with don’t have to be complicated, says Scott. Once you’ve used up that collection of specialty products under your sink, consider switching to an all-purpose cleaner that works on all kinds of surfaces. The one thing to be cautious about is that, because most of these include alcohol to dissolve grime, they can be too drying on natural wood, which will do better with an oil.
Scott’s husband, Steve, who helps blend batches of Pure Vita products and tends the store from time to time, is big on another multi-tasking item, the “Wet-it.” At their house, Steve says, these flat cellulose sponges have replaced both conventional sponges — which contain plastics — and paper towels.
Scott sells a bar of dish soap that comes packaged in a simple paper wrapper, which, she adds, “You can toss in the garden — it’s got flower seeds in it.”
Bar soap for dishes? “It’s much sudsier than ordinary bar soap,” Scott says. She rubs it on a biodegradable Wet-it or a cellulose sponge or scrubber.
Yes, you can start your spring cleaning revolution at the kitchen sink.