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Cleaning Health and beauty How to's

How to use Soapnuts

Soapberries (also called soapnuts) are a low-waste and biodegradable alternative to conventional cleaning. In a search to live more sustainably and conscious at home these berries are a holy grail. 

Soapberries are the fruit of the Sapindus mukorossi tree – hailing from India and Nepal. The small fruit contains saponin which is essentially the soap in soapnuts – or more accurately an organic compound historically used to make soap!

They are versatile, effective, and most importantly, better for our planet. At the end of their life, they can go right back into Mother Earth – no waste or pollution!

Using soapnuts needs a little time for experimentation before you find the best way to use them. There are a plethora of ways you can use soapnuts, but these are the ones I’ve tried and tested and loved the most.

  1. Soapnut Concentrate (the base for all your cleaning desires)
  • 30g Soapnuts
  • 300ml Water
  • Essential Oils of choice (I used lavender)

The process for this is simple, and you can do it two ways depending on how much time you have – there isn’t much difference in the result.

Method one:

Place Soapnuts and water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer – for 10-15 minutes – then increase the heat for a gentle boil – not a rolling boil otherwise you’ll lose too much of the liquid. Leave it at a gentle boil for 10-15 minutes, by then the water should have reduced and turned caramel brown. Strain it and let it cool. Et voila! Now you have your Soapnut concentrate.

Method two:

This method takes a little longer but is great if you don’t want to keep checking up on your low-waste cleaner in the making! Bring the water to a simmer and cover with a lid for 20 minutes, then increase the heat for a gentle boil for a further 20 minutes. Then follow the same steps as the first method.

I think that soapnuts are the kind of thing that works best with experimentation, things like water hardness to where they are from making a difference. I recommend trying them out and exploring how they work best for you.

  1. Load them up with your laundry

This is the most effortless way I have found to use them and takes less than 5 minutes.

Take 6-8 soapnuts for one load of laundry (or 30 grams) place them in a mesh bag -you can use a small muslin bag or anything similar, I used a mesh grocery bag – cleaned of course. Once you have a little soapnut bag pop it in your next laundry cycle (it works best with warm to hot water. They don’t leave a particularly distinctive smell, so I pair this with a refill fabric conditioner (this is an optional step) or, for a more low-waste alternative a few drops of essential oil of choice. They are also reusable you can reuse one soapnut bag up to 7 times!

  1. Sneaker Cleaner – an effective, non-abrasive way to clean your sneakers – and shoes.
  • 1-2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1-2 tsp Soapnut Concentrate
  • A basin or bucket filled with warm water

Essentially, this is a better version of ‘’warm soapy water’’ for sneaker cleaning. It works with anything from knitted sneakers to nubuck leather boots! You can adjust the 1:1 ratio depending on your shoe cleaning needs. With this recipe, I cleaned three pairs of (muddy and snow stained) sneakers and boots.

  1. Hair Cleanser (alternative to shampoo) 

For this, I highly recommend experimenting with a few recipes because I think it has great potential. But for me, it was a little too strong, and my hair felt quite dry after I used it.

I have tried it in two ways:

First, I tried it diluted with aloe vera gel with a 2:3 ratio; 2 parts concentrate with 3 parts aloe vera. 

My hair didn’t feel exceptionally clean – by clean, I mean the same way it feels after I had used a shampoo bar or a more conventional shampoo.

Second, I tried the concentrate on its own. Arguably, my hair felt clean. 

However, it felt quite dry, so I used a little conditioner. My hair was fine after a day or two, but I think there is a better way to use it as a shampoo, but I have not found it yet!

  1. All-Purpose Cleaner (anything from showers to countertops)
  • 1 Part Soapnut Concentrate
  • 2-3 Parts Water (1:3 for every day/gentler use, the less water, the stronger it will be)
  • A few drops of Orange Essential Oil* (optional, the amount is up to you but 3 is a good starting point)

That’s it! If you haven’t noticed already, most of these take a small amount of time with little effort. I find that a plethora of sustainable and ‘’eco-friendly’’ alternatives can be incredibly time-consuming and take a lot of effort. Not that that is a bad thing, however I think it makes conscious and sustainable living a bit easier.

*Orange essential oil is favourable for cleaning, especially for kitchen and bathroom surfaces.

Categories
Health and beauty Nature

Our Worlds Coral Reefs, the Impact We Have and Climate Change

”The rain forests of the sea”

Coral reefs make up a vast amount of Earth’s biodiversity and ocean habitats. They are alive (they are animals), a habitat for 25% of all our marine life, but are threatened by numerous issues. Many of these issues are avoidable, and one we can directly affect is sunscreen – or rather the active ingredients.

Reef-safe sunscreen, shampoo and soap

One of the ways we can keep our coral reefs protected is by avoiding sunscreen (shampoo and soap) that contain active chemicals* that damage our reefs and harm marine life. 

One’s products can seem harmless, but when they enter our oceans, they can wreak havoc.

Climate change and coral bleaching

Rising temperatures in our world’s waters harm coral reefs. Coral bleaching occurs when the corals are under stress – they expel the symbiotic algae (zooxanthellae) that live within their tissues- and turn completely white. 

Why does this matter?

– ‘’UNEP estimates that about 25 to 50% per cent of the world’s coral reefs have been destroyed and another 60 per cent are under threat.’’

– When a coral bleaches it doesn’t die. Coral reefs can recover but only if stress is relieved (otherwise, the coral starves without food and dies.

However, all hope is not lost for the ‘’the rainforest of the seas’’. It’s relevant to be conscious of our impact on our planet, and this makes a difference. There isn’t just one simple thing that an individual can do to protect our coral reefs and oceans, for there isn’t just one simple issue. 

I believe that knowledge is the first step, understanding the problem, then we can take action as individuals and collectively.

Resources about coral reefs:

Glowing Glowing Gone – A non-profit organisation with our coral reefs in mind.

Great Barrier Reef Foundation – Great Barrier Reef Foundation

Skincare Chemicals and Marine Life (noaa.gov)

What can I do to protect coral reefs? (noaa.gov)

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Becca's ramblings

The rabbit hole

Best know, that if it’s in the shop, we have researched it, but occasionally things slip through our fingers and we have to back track. At the moment we are chasing an amazing product (they sent samples) which they’ve said is organic so I asked for the organic certification. It’s been three weeks and I’ve not heard back from them. This kind of thing makes me suspicious.
 I know when I speak to smaller makers, they can often tell you excatly where they got something, what the weather of the day was and what the people are like who they traded with for raw ingredients. I feel the most honest suppliers can tell you a story, a real story, one from experience. I become wary when it’s all talk and nothing else behind it. Some stories are funny, some are strange or hilarious, sometimes even a little sad, but there is always a story and thats what I love about sourcing.

With experience I’m beginning to find that Europe does this sustainability thing so much better than us in the UK, and local makers aside, some of the best manufacturers are based in Germany or the Netherlands. As you may know, I’m half Austrian and managed to acquire an Austrian passport some years back (lucky me still in the EU) so I want to take advantage of my passport and my language skills. I’ve got to brush up on my German but I would love to be able to do business in Germany and Austria. There is so much to learn from Europe.
I’m also planning a trip to the Netherlands to visit a natural epsom salt mine. Sourcing out materials in their raw form is so exciting, so satisfying. There’s nothing better than seeing where everything comes from. I also want to go back to Kenya and get pomice from the volcanic crators. I’m lucky to have moved there in my late teens and create strong friendships with like minded folk. There is no reason to bulk (not right now anyway, not at least until I speak better Swahili), it would be more to visit my good friends and then bring back some stuff in a suitcase. 


And while I seek out materials and ingredients, I dream only that trade between people is fair, that egos do not get in the way of business- that’s some fucker doesn’t see weakness and want to take more from someone they view as weaker or desperate. These are the harsh realities out in the field. Can you imagine the war and blood shed over coffee and diamonds. (You’ve seen the film blood diamond right?) Have you heard about the truffle farmers who sabotage one another because a kilo of truffles can be worth tens of thousands. This shit is real. People want too much sometimes and when I think of these things I feel a responsibility to stop it.
It’s so disheartening when I research products which appear fantastic– but curiosity killed the cat right – and then we find out things that we can’t ignore, but for everything that isn’t what we thought it was, there’s a person or a company who really put their heart and soul into what they produce and it’s those people we want to source from. It’s also true that all the local makes are small companies, sometimes unable to meet higher consumer demands because they lack work space, funds and well, usually space and funds, and it’s our jobs as shops to ensure they can continue to build and grow their products without comprising on the love part which is where all the goodness actually comes from. 

Categories
Packaging

A batttle with depression and packaging

 

 

These photos are from 2015/16 during a time I was ‘housebound’. I had reached a high level of depression where I literally only left the house to buy food and tabacco and I’d take almost daily trips to Sainsburys to grab a pack of cookies which I ate in a matter of moments.
😐
I was already buying loose fruit,🍇 vegetables 🍅 and dry goods 🌰 but my processed foods intake was enormous and counteracted any healthy choices I made.
🐥
Still, having always been obsessed with packaging and ingredients, and on a quest to retrieve my health away from the dark place I was in, I started to document what I was putting in my body and what waste I was creating, especially as I had no idea where my recycling would be going.
So I started to empty the contents of my weekly recycling, laid it out on my living room floor and took photos of how I had been living..
thinking perhaps one day I’ll write about this. (That I am) 🙌
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This exercise eventually (unconsciously) led me to more interaction with the outside world, and I got my first job out of depression as a deliveroo cyclist (where I didn’t have to socially interact if I didn’t want to) and as a consequence I ‘forgot’ to take photos of my rubbish because I was now busy with the world again and going out on cycling adventures with new friends in the city 🙂🏬
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You’ll notice over the span of photos (over a period of around 3 months) that the waste I created from my consumerism gradually declined and I stopped both eating so much processed sugars and creating unnecessary waste and I assume it was because I was documenting it.
🍫🍬🍪🍭🍮🍯

I wanted to share because I feel it shows us that the way we treat ourselves sits alongside how we treat our planet. The more ‘crap’ we consume, the more crap we burden the earth with.
🌎🌏🌍
Documenting our consumption, online or offline can help reduce it because we can become more aware of our habits and are able to contextualise the wider picture of our behaviour and how it affects ourselves and our environment. Living healthy for yourself also means treating our planet kindly. 💚🌎
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And some years later, I can tell you that my packaging waste is low level because I’m blessed enough to live in an area where all that is eco friendly is accessible.
As a consequence of CP transition town, I get my household products from Roots and Cycles and food goods from The store cupboard and Crystal palace food market and other small businesses around the area. It’s both individual and collective effort which make this possible and it would be wonderful to see more areas jumping on board with some green thinking 🌎
👛🎎👷👲👱👾
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But mostly… This is a reminder that if you want to take care of the planet, take care of yourself first.. once you become more aware and kind to the state of your health, the more naturally and easier it becomes to live a lifestyle that compliments the health of our planet

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