The world’s only 100% renewable detergent

Have you ever gone to put a load of laundry in your washing machine … and then realised you’re out of detergent?? It happens to the best of us!

Washing powders, laundry liquid and the ubiquitous laundry liquitabs can hurt our pockets in more ways than one.
You know, no-one talks about how to save the planet AND save money at the same time! Let me tell you a secret about how YOU can!
soap nuts These days, the smart money is on environmentally-conscious, money-saving products … ones that deliver reliable results! The humble item I’m about to share with you fits the bill on all three counts: it saves money, it’s sustainable, and folks like you and I are delighted with the results.

It’s a curious thing but people are often sceptical about anything new, particularly anything unusual-looking. When you first see a soapberry you wonder how on Earth this truly strange-looking item can possibly be used in laundry or for making gentle shampoo! “What is this thing?” I hear you ask. The Indian Soapberry or Soapnut – Sapindus Mukorossi, to give it its Latin name – comes from the same genus as the lychee. Its properties are inherent in its name: ‘sapo’ meaning ‘soap’ and ‘indicus’ meaning ‘of India’.

The trees are highly prized in rural India; the wood is used in construction and the fruit as a source of revenue. The organically-grown berries contain a high proportion of natural saponin or mild soap which is gentle on sensitive skin.
Ecologically this is a sustainable, entirely renewable resource; the fruit is harvested and sun-dried, the seeds removed and planted to ensure crops for future generations. Sapindus Mukorossi has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries to nourish and hydrate skin and hair, and laboratory tests show it to have mildly antimicrobial properties.

Customers across the country are delighted with the results even if the vast majority of them were sceptical at first about using something so out-of-the-ordinary to wash their clothes. “Try them. You won’t regret it!” we hear again and again.

– Soapnuts are most effective in your washing machine on a 30, 40 or 60-degree wash and can also be used for handwashing.
–  Proven to be safe for sensitive skin – yet delivering startlingly good results reliably enough to convert the most hardened sceptic.
– The mild suds care for your fabrics and keep colours bright with no need for artificially-perfumed conditioner.
– Each handful of dried berries is reusable for up to four to six washes, after which they can be composted.
– They have become an extremely popular, effective and money-saving alternative to regular laundry detergents in some circles.
– They are great to take if your are travelling too. Even if you’ve spilled washing powder or squashed liquitabs all over your luggage in the past, there’s no danger of mess with soapnut shells! They’re lightweight and space-saving, too!

soapnut salve

The Indian Soapberry is also used in producing natural skin balms and healing salves, as well as in making solid shampoo and body wash bars. All of these are perfect for sensitive skin and for anyone trying to cut down on their plastic waste.

Yes, you CAN shine your environmentally-friendly halo, knowing that soapnuts actually work … and save you money! If you’re on a “journey to zero waste”, looking for ways to save money now that your family has expanded or you are simply trying to find something that does not irritate your skin then the gentle Indian Soapberry is well worth looking into!

And you can do that HERE! 

By Nicola Broadsmith,

World Water Day

Today is the UNs world water day. Here in the often rainy UK we can sometimes get sick of the sight of water, and it is easy to forget that having easy access to clean drinking water is privilege.

Although it has been predicted that due to climate change and population we too may be suffering severe water shortages in 25 years.

Easy to take for granted, but not easy to live without here are few tips for helping to look after our water.

 

 

  • An oldie but a goody – don’t leave the water running when brushing your teeth.
  • Watch the chemicals – Cleaning and laundry chemicals washed down the drains are harmful to waterways and water creatures, not easily and not always removed by water plants. Switch to more natural products and biodegradable cleaning /laundry products.
  • Clothes.  A new pair of jeans takes about 10,800L of water to make, from growing the cotton to finished product.  And 2,700L to grow the cotton for one T-shirt (thats about the same as a person would drink in 2.5 years.) Buy clothes that will last, or pre-loved clothes, reuse and recycle your old clothes.
  • Install a water butt to collect water to water your garden and home grown veggies.
  • Take your own water bottle. Not only is this cutting down on plastic waste, but water waste too! It can take almost 3x as much water to make a plastic water bottle as the bottle holds.- Water with a watering can instead of a hosepipe. Also water in the evenings will reduce evaporation and mean your plants get to use more of the water.
  • Re-purpose an old plastic water bottle or two (depending on size) by filling up with water and placing in your toilet cistern. If you don’t have any you can get water displacement devices from your water provider.
  • Always try to run your washing machine or dishwasher with a full load. (Although don’t overfill your washing machine…I know, life’s all about balance though, right?!)
  • Always fix a dripping tap. A dripping tap is not only annoying is you can hear it, it can waste 15L of water a day.
  • Reuse water from boiling eggs (when its cool!) and cleaning out fish tanks to water house plants, it will have lots of extra nutrients

 

Phew. All that typing’s made me thirsty!

But it’s just so convenient!

And that right there, dear reader is the problem.

I’m not going to lie to you, this has been a tricky post to write because it would be very easy to write it in such a way to leave you picturing me walking down the street wearing a ‘The End Is Nigh’ sandwich board, and I really don’t think I would pull that look off.

So, here we go…

There have been many many apocalyptic films, books, tv dramas, computer games, from meteors to apes, even at least one about global warming… it seems us humans like to fantasise about how the world might end, or at least be changed beyond recognition.

But in reality what might be our greatest undoing has crept up on us. And I think it is because we have been on a quest for ever greater convenience in our lives. Ways to speed up and hassle down the day-to-day jobs.  We all Love convenience, but is convenience killing us?

The medical profession might be nodding their heads, we are all too sedentary these days, spending too much of our time sitting – at work, in cars, in front of the TV leading to less fitness more illness. But that (although a problem for many societies) is not exactly what I mean.

So what do I mean?

We live life at an increasingly fast pace, there is ever more to cram into a day and we embrace anything that is going to shave time off tasks so that we can cram more and more into our days. More work, more time with kids, more social media time, more holidays, more learning, more DIY, more TV! Whatever, we want more.

But in this quest, have we taken convenience too far, to a point where it is doing more harm than good?

Don’t want to go to the well to fetch water? Let’s pipe it straight into people’s homes! – Pretty convenient, time saving and on the face of it no massive environmental impact.  (once all ground works have been done)

bottles on beachNot wanting to use that water that’s conveniently piped into your home, because it’s more convenient to buy it in a plastic bottle?

More expensive, more damaging to health and more damaging to the environment.  Really, I see no upside. And is it actually more convenient or is it just perceived convenience?

Throwing away worn or damaged clothes Vs Mending…Sure it might save you some time but the environmental impact is massive.

You don’t want to grow your own food? Or you don’t have time to grow your own food? Ok we have farmers to do that, you ready mealcan buy it from them.  – pretty convenient.

You don’t want to cook your own food, ok we will make you a ready meal.  Result – excess (plastic) packaging, excess salt, millions who don’t know how to cook!

I could go on and on. And don’t get me wrong, I’ve been just as bad as anyone.

It is our need for convenience that has driven our need for plastics, for fossil fuels, for fast fashion.  We drive when we could walk, we tumble dry when we could line dry, we hit social media when we could pick up the phone for a chat or write an email…

Our need for convenience influences every part of our lives, but my (probably unpopular) opinion is that we have taken convenience too far and when taken too far it is perhaps no longer a force for good.

Plastic pollution, micro-plastics, global warming, mental health issues, obesity…  Change can be very inconvenient, but not getting on top of these issues, not finding ways to stop, reduce or tackle them…. that could end up being the most inconvenient of all.

 

Cleaner Laundry – Part 2 – Fabric Conditioners

Originally I was going to include fabric conditioners in with the detergents in part 1, but it was getting very long! And really fabric conditioners need a space to themselves because, well, you’ll see!

Considering how long people have been washing clothes, fabric conditioners as we know them today have not been around all that long. They rose to popularity with the tumble dryer, and the rise of synthetic fabrics use in clothing, both produce static and smell pretty bad when heated.

The solution? Along came fabric conditioners, their job is to ‘coat’ the clothes in, well, basically a soup of chemicals to make them feel soft, and prevent the build up of static. Great! Except for the tiny problem that these chemicals also smell pretty bad, the solution to this? The heady perfume fabric conditioners are known for is added, using… a few more chemicals.

I will admit that I have a fairly sensitive sense of smell but sometimes peoples fabric conditioner on their clothes is so strong that it will make my eyes water and make it a little harder for me to breathe just standing next to them. But the chemicals made to make this fragrance could actually be doing us some real harm.

They release VOC’s or Volatile organic compounds many of these are actually classified as toxic or hazardous air pollutants, they contribute massively to air pollution in the home (which is often actually many times higher than air pollution outside the home) and can cause or exacerbate respiratory disorders such as asthma (VOCs can be and are released from many sources inside the home not just fabric conditioner, but this is a major contributor). Some of them are also suspected hormone disruptors.

But the regulations state that product manufacturers do not have to declare what makes up the fragrance of their product because it would leave them open to being copied by competitors. This means that in some cases no-one outside the manufacturer actually knows what chemicals they are using to give the fragrance.

The softness provided to your clothes is largely provided by a group of chemicals whose name is shortened to quarts. The Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics, a leading international authority on asthma, calls these chemicals “asthmagens,” substances that can cause asthma to develop in otherwise healthy people. With Instances of asthma on the rise (especially in children) is this something we should or can afford to ignore?

By their very nature the chemicals are designed to stay on the clothes that you have on your skin, so some of them will be absorbed into your skin. For some people they can even cause contact dermatitis, eczema and body acne.

It’s quite amusing, and at the same time horrifying that the adverts for these products often focus on the natural, their imaging is of hillside, mountains, festivals (!) people taking deep deep breaths of their wonderful clean and fresh fragrances….

I hadn’t realised before we started our eco journey but Fabric softener is actually bad for quite a few materials;

Firstly because it makes them less absorbent, so at the very least you should stop using them on your towels! But also sports wear, which is designed to wick moisture away from your skin and allow your skin to breathe,(and is probably a large part of the reason you bought it in the first place!) is prevented from doing this by the film that is put on them by the fabric conditioner.

Also anything that contains spandex aka elastane – leggings, some jeans and ‘control shape wear’, swimming costumes anything that has ‘stretch’ are all likely to be weakened by the use of fabric conditioner and have a shorter lifespan.

Secondly because it makes them more flammable. Even if you buy fabrics that have been treated or made to be flame retardant (usually children’s clothes/costumes) then adding fabric conditioner to them will reduce their effectiveness by up to 7 times according to the Department of Chemistry at McGill University.

So in a lot of cases, fabric conditioner is actually completely unnecessary and a big fat waste of money!

So that’s the bad news! What of the good? What if you love your fabric conditioner? What if you are old friends going back years and you love smelling like spring mountain dew on the delicate petal of an alpine flower damn it!

Well the good news is: You can still have lovely soft clothes, you can even get them to smell pretty good (perhaps a more subtle fragrance, which is probably, upon reflection, what spring mountain dew on the delicate petal of an alpine flower was going for anyway….) 😉 without the chemicals!

The original fabric conditioners were made with olive oil but you do not even need to go that far.

If you are really not ready to kick the fabric conditioner habit then we have 2 great choices of fabric conditioners that are far more eco friendly and use natural fragrances.

Bio D

This comes as unscented or with a lavender fragrance (so your clothes can be a source of calm in your day!) As mentioned in Part 1, 100% of their range is hypoallergenic, they are also 100% natural, plant based products, they are committed to sustainable practices and are credited with the 14001 standard and are vegan.

If you do not wish to use fabric conditioners at all, then the easiest way to keep your clothes soft and nice smelling is to line dry them when possible. (I appreciate that in the UK this equates to roughly 5 days a year! But on those days go for it!)

At the very least keep synthetic fabrics out of the tumble dryer as they are the main culprits for static production.

But fear not for the other 360 days a year there are still options;

Ecoegg Dryer Egg.

They soften clothes and reduce drying time (by up to 28%) but also impart a subtle, natural fragrance to your clothes. The eggs should last…well for ages, you just need to change the scent sticks when they become less… scenty.

 

 

White Vinegar

You can also try adding some white vinegar to your washing machine during the rinse cycle. – The smell will not last, but it will make your clothes feel soft soft soft.

 

Essential Oils

You can use essential oil to give a lovely subtle fragrance, and its super easy to change the scent when ever you want! You can either add it to your fabric conditioner draw of your washing machine or make up a spray bottle of distilled white vinegar and essential oil and spray on your clothes before adding them to the dryer.  –
To 250ml of White Vinegar add 1.5 tsp of Eucalyptus essential oil (Lavender, lemongrass also work well or experiment with your own favourite scent!) and spray!

It is highly recommended that you swap out your detergent (see part 1) for one of the more natural alternatives if you are going to swap or stop altogether your fabric conditioner. Because the detergents and the fabric conditioners you have been using will be on your clothes still, and it may take a few washes for them to come out. This may lead to them feeling a bit stiffer and starchier than usual for a little while. It is also worth giving your washing machine a bit of a detox to get any residue out of it.
(THESE handy little tabs can help with that)

Phew, so there you have it, and now you know why fabric softeners needed their own post! In the 3rd and final part of this laundry series we will have a look at what we can do to tackle any particularly stubborn stains in an more eco way.

The Family-iar war on waste

There are times for everyone I am sure when the ‘ideal’ just goes out of the window, when all the best laid plans just refuse to come together. And you know what? That’s ok. What I personally have to pull myself up on is not letting that be an excuse that starts us off on a slippery slope. I have to be self-disciplined enough to keep making those plans, and keep striving for the ideal.

So in the last post I mentioned that we were going to be tackling our rubbish, the volume of which had started to creep up over the last few weeks/couple of months. I can make all the excuses, baby not sleeping, so a very tired me (so very very tired!), low energy, thinking through fog, school holidays – so our structure/routine is off etc, you get the idea. So we had fallen back on the supermarket a few times because I hadn’t made it to the greengrocers in time, or we had not been planning our meals as our days were more spontaneous so bread had been left to go rather hard… little things like this.


Two of the easiest ways we have found to cut down on our waste, is switching the supermarket for the greengrocers,

butchers etc. Fewer plastic trays, plastic bags, horrible orange netting… Actually the packaging of fruit and veg is one thing that annoys me the most. Especially when I see people putting bananas in those little almost clear plastic bags… they come in their own handy packaging! They are even handily pre-tied (bunched) together for you! Why do they need to be in a little bag? What is the bag going to protect them from??

I digress! So yes, the greengrocers or farmers market has saved us a lot of packaging. I also like the feel of fruit and veg more from here. Is it just me? It is perhaps a psychological thing? But the fruit and veg from a supermarket always seems a little… sterile? Perhaps because of the uniformity or the extra packaging, or just the chilled clean supermarket environment? (Not saying that my local greengrocers is not clean!) it just seems another step away from nature somehow.

This is something that has been easier for me for the last couple of years, because I have been on (at least part time) maternity leave or a part time stay at home mum I suppose. So I have been able to pop out with the kiddilies during the day. When I had previously been office bound, this was harder to do and when I go back to being full time, I will have to have a think about how to make sure I don’t slip back to relying on the supermarket and their later opening hours. However, we intend to make our working life more flexible to fit in with the girls so with some intention and planning, I don’t see it being a problem.

The other thing we did which had a massive impact on our waste, specifically food waste, was to plan our meals for a week. The thought of this horrifies my mum as she says she couldn’t stand to just know what she is going to be eating and be tied to it – she likes to get into the kitchen and be creative. But you do not have to be tied to it. If it is Tuesday and we were supposed to have spaghetti bolognaise, but no one fancies it, we will just swap it for Thursday’s risotto instead. And with some store cupboard basics always on standby there is room for some creativity too. Also, no two weeks need be the same. You can get all creative still, just not quite so spontaneously.

Not only does planning our menu save on waste in the form of throwing away food that has gone bad whilst waiting to be swept up in your creativity. It also saves money – not buying food you then throw away. And Time – wondering round the shops trying to think of what to buy and wondering round your shelves/cupboards trying to think of what to make! Yes, at some point you need to sit down and plan your menu, and that can be done in one fail swoop, or just left on the side and added to over a couple of days. We have been doing this for a couple of years now, and honestly it must have saved us tens or maybe even hundreds of hours.

As  anyone reading this has little people in their lives, you know those hours are precious. It also gives us the chance to include them in the weeks food, we can ask them if there are any meals they would like next week – Our 3 year olds favourite food is currently prawns! And when shopping they get a better idea about where their food is actually coming from, rather than just seeing everything as coming in a neat little plastic package.

Getting back on track with just these two things has dropped the amount of rubbish we are producing down along way.

Any food waste we do have we compost. We have in the past grown

some of our fruit and veggies, this is something that has gone by the wayside a little again over the last 2 years, but we still do some.

This year we had Tomatoes, Runner Beans, French beans, Strawberries and Raspberries. And the herb patch, which apart from some taming, mostly takes care of itself!

Again the girls love it and there is something so satisfying about eating something you have grown.

Any cardboard waste we have (eg egg boxes) or yoghurt pots generally gets re purposed as arts and crafts materials by our eldest, or taken to nursery so that they can do likewise before it gets recycled. We have several beautiful sculptures adorning our surfaces that look (almost) like a rocket, or a house, or a …doggy?

This is of course an ongoing thing and I would love to hear any ideas you have come up with for reducing waste around your home.

One step at a time

I am the world’s worst at beating myself up over small things. It’s a habit I am trying to let go of, but I do seem to rather delight in self critique.
Even little things like going out to get some groceries and forgetting the shopping bags – never mind that we had a day bordering on insanely busy, or that my usually delightful girls had decided to have some fun with Mummy and so leaving the house had been like trying to herd cats, (seriously how can such little people remove shoes so fast?!) or that the bag I had to use has already been put to use many times over, and will continue to be used until it finds its way to being recycled – I wasn’t about to cut myself any slack for neglecting the most basic of eco practices.

However, when an acquaintance asked me if I really felt I could advise on eco matters if I still did things/bought things/used things that were not eco friendly it got me to thinking. Thinking that led me to the conclusion that actually, it is not about beating myself up for the things that I or my family don’t do, guilt is rarely a good motivator, but rather about celebrating and giving ourselves the odd high five for the things that we do do (I would also like to add at this juncture that I do not feel like it is my place to give advice! Merely to share, experiences, knowledge, mistakes, finds etc.if any of that ends up helping anyone then, yay!)

We have come a long way in our efforts to live in a more sustainable way, but I am under no illusions that we still have a long way to go. It takes a very special person to decide that they are going the whole hog approach when it comes to changing lifestyle and if you are one of those people, then I wholeheartedly take my hat off to you. But a lot of people are adverse to change, myself included and so the only way this was going to work was for us was to take it slowly, one step at a time.

We started really simply, by changing the kinds of bags we used, from bin bags to shopping bags (before we were charged for using plastic shopping bags). Out went the usual off the shelf bags and in came some lovely degradable ones for the rubbish and cotton string bags for the shopping.

Then a month or so later we started swapping our toiletries, shampoos, soaps, moiturisers etc, as the brands we had used for years ran out so they were replaced. A little while after that we swapped out our laundry products, then cleaning and so on.

With some products it took some trial and error before we found the ones that worked for us, (I will do some quick comparison posts later on to try and help you if you are having trouble deciding what to switch to. For example, switching your Persil for soap nuts ((which literally grow on trees)) might seem a bit of a stretch for you, maybe not, but if so then perhaps a laundry powder or liquid without chemicals will be a better fit…) but we were amazed by the options out there, that we had just never known about because they are not stocked in the supermarkets (generally speaking) or advertised on TV.

Sometimes it can be hard knowing where to start. What is the first step to take? So it can be surprising how once you do start, the way opens up in front of you and it can take you much further and in more directions than you ever imagined. It’s one of the things that gets me really excited about what we do and about helping people when they are just starting out. Even if you only change one thing a month, that will make a huge difference after a year. Pick something that speaks to you the most, and go from there.

One of the areas that we are still working on changing, but is also a great example of how your horizons and point of view can change as you go, is our diet. When we first started this I would have sworn that I would never be vegan, you could not have induced me to go down that road for love nor money and my husband even more so…but now… well, we are not there yet, but we do not eat much meat at all now, our diets are certainly much healthier. We are more aware and make more conscious choices about where any meat, diary products etc come from, and I can see it being a distinct possibility that we will be slipping more and more into that lifestyle choice, it just seems to be a natural progression

Another great example is re-usable menstrual products. When we first started stocking them I was horrified! I couldn’t think of many things worse! However a few years on and I cant imagine what I was making such a fuss about, I wouldn’t be without them now!

So now, as a family we do quite a bit to lessen our footprint upon this world, we’ve done it slowly, nothing has been a shock to the system. Is it all we can do? No. But next week we will be doing a little more than today. Our next personal project is to cut down on waste as it has started creeping up a bit lately. Sometimes I think we all need to cut ourselves some slack and celebrate the things that we do that are great. Whether they be big small, green, kind, thoughtful, or just ordinary and every-day. So wherever you are now, take a moment to celebrate and congratulate yourself for the effort you are already making, then think of the next thing you are going to change and when, and go tackle that goal with a spring in your step.

Action Steps – Make it Happen! 

  • Choose some first products to start swapping. It can be overwhelming to swap everything over straight away, so pick an area you would like to start with, Cleaning? Laundry? Personal care? And get some more eco choices in to try.
  • Have a look around your home for the amount of products you use that could be swapped out. It can be quite surprsing!
  • Have a look into the options avaliable to you. A great place to start could be with ECO EGGBIODFAITH IN NATURE ,  D2W BAGS, Or more generally with CLEANING or LAUNDRY to see the wide range of options available to you
  • If you have any questions or are unsure about where to start, please get in touch with us or your local Wikaniko consultant for a no obligation chat. We are always excited to talk eco and we would be happy to help you.

Where it all began….well, for us anyway…

It began simply enough, as most things do, with a conversation around the dinner table at my parents house. A conversation about an article that my mum had read about an Island made of plastic… “A what now?” ” An Island made entirely of plastic rubbish that has ended up in the sea, it’s all caught up in the ocean currents and collects in this one place in the ocean and it has formed this island of plastic.”

(We now know there is a bit more to it than that, and it is not an island as such but more of a plastic soup. Sadly that there is not just one of these but several. But at the time they were the ‘facts’ we had.)

“No one will clean it up” she continued. “Because apparently by making any effort to clean it up that country then admits responsibility for it and no-one wants to do that!”
Well from there, we started putting the world to rights, – as you do in close company when there is absolutely no danger of anyone calling you on it!
Except this time one thing led to another (and there wasn’t even any wine involved!) and before long we had decided that actually we should do something about it…. we perhaps weren’t in a position to head on out to the mid pacific with nets and start collecting, but perhaps we could do something to stop any more plastic ending up there???……

So we started doing a little research. Up until this point we were just a “normal” family living our lives, without too much thought for the waste we were producing or the chemicals we were using, where our things came from (food miles etc) or where they ended up once we had finished with them and threw them away. What we discovered was a big wake up call for us and was really shocking.

According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, globally up to 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die each year from eating plastic.

Perhaps the most shocking and saddening thing was the sheer amount of alternative products out there that were just not being utilised by the mainstream.

Seeing as how plastic was what had piqued our interest this was where we decided to start. We found a company that sold all manner of plastic bags that would degrade to Co2 and water in 18 months, a much better alternative than the 100’s of years that conventional plastic bags take. They were no different in feel, function, quality, or appearance to regular plastic bags and so should not be too scary as an alternative. So we pooled our resources, bought some bags, designed a leaflet and set out to sell some bags!

As and when we were able to we have slowly but surely built up our range until it is what you can see today. What we want to provide you with is a way to make ‘making eco choices’ easier, by giving you access to a great range of products all in one place, cutting out some of the research for you, making it easier to get what you need buy cutting down on the time you need to shop or shop around to get the eco products you want. And also to educate and help people to understand what they can do to help, show ways they didn’t even know were available to them, because we believe if everyone does even just a little bit, that can add up to a whole lot. After all, look at the reverse, we are all just throwing away, a little bit of plastic, and look at the chaos! If humans can cause so much devastation without consciously trying, and just each doing a little, surely the same or more can be true when we actually try to make a difference?

We would love to hear what first interested you about eco issues, or why you first started looking for ‘alternative’ (I am not a fan of that word, but for the life of me I cannot think of another at the moment!) products. Leave a comment below or drop us an email!