Can you believe it? That’s right- organic soap that grows on trees. Nature has provided the perfect, eco-friendly alternative to conventional, toxic laundry detergent. The brand ‘That Red House’ has discovered this miraculous plant, which they call soap berries, the newest sustainable lifestyle product you’re going to love.
Soapberries are the fruit of the ‘Sapindus Mukorossi’ tree and contain a naturally occurring surfactant called ‘saponin.’ They are related to the lychee and can be used as a 100% natural alternative to laundry detergent and soap. The soap berries are harvested from the Far Western regions of Nepal by local communities. Sourced from both wild harvest areas, and some plantations also, they are harvested, dried in the sun and de-seeded. There is no processing whatsoever, and no fragrances are added, so they are 100% raw, vegan, paleo and 100% chemical free. They are also naturally antibacterial, antifungal, hypoallergenic and are good for people with skin conditions. Soapberries can be used in their raw berry form as a laundry detergent or add a few pantry ingredients to make body wash, hand wash, shaving cream, surface spray, stainless steel, glass cleaner and so much more. They are truly fantastic!
That Red House (TRH) ‘Sustainable living’ came across these little balls of wonder in 2013. Young couple Talia and Luke Borda decided to move to the picturesque Adelaide Hills in South Australia, build a sustainable eco-house and plant a sustainable organic produce garden (with 100 fruit and nut trees, 44 garden beds and 12 chooks) on 1500sqm of glorious organic bliss. Luke had battled cancer at age 22, and after a second diagnosis at age 26, the organic change was a move to try and save his life.
To minimise their chemical consumption, the family audited everything that went in and on their bodies as well as their environment. Talia was horrified to discover that the laundry industry was totally unregulated and companies could add whatever they liked to washing detergents without having to legally disclose any information pertaining to the chemical additives. So like many families, Talia had been buying ‘natural’ detergent, when it fact it was laden with chemicals. Traditional detergents sit in the fibers of clothing fabric and are absorbed directly into our skin. Day in, day out, the chemical absorption builds up in our bodies and is topped up with every wash of our clothes! Talia needed an alternative for the family and as their organic garden was their main source of food so she also needed to make sure the detergent was 100% safe to pump on to the food producing plants and trees. After much research, she discovered soap berries and they ticked all of the boxes – and actually worked really well on 3 dirty boys and a messy baby! Talia was sold, and felt compelled to share her knowledge… “That Red House ‘Organic Soapberries’” was born.
In order to support the Nepalese communities who harvest the berries, TRH works with ‘Grow Nepal’; an organization which ensures funds are directed back into the community, supporting the growth and development of small business, exports and wild harvesters and family farms engaged in sustainable products and practices. They foster self-sufficiency and economic prosperity for both current and future generations. In 2016 the TRH team visited the region to meet the harvesters, immerse themselves in the culture and experience first-hand the harvesting process and the impact the trade has on the entire community. An assessment was also made on the visit as to what additional support TRH could offer the community to further complement the ‘Grow Nepal’ initiative and safeguard the well-being and living conditions of the Nepalese people. Framework for this additional support (mostly in the area of health care for the females in the community who do all of the work) is being researched and outlined at present.
Moving with the public’s demand for ethically sourced and sustainable products that have zero environmental impact, TRH decided to make the change to 100% waste free soap berries in 2017. After an audit of the soapberry production, packing and transportation processes, many aspects of the system of sourcing were changed. An internal plastic bag was discarded and replaced with recycled paper, and jute and paper packing tape also replaced plastic. TRH have worked tirelessly to ensure that their soapberries have a passive place on our planet and help others to reduce their environmental impact too.