Alternatives to Toxic Detergents – SmartKlean, Soap Nuts and Biodegradable Soaps

ConsciousnessEnvironmentHealthy, Happy LivingIntentional LivingResource ConservationSustainable LivingTips and How To'sZero Waste

I definitely get dirty A LOT, whether it’s in the garden or just constantly spilling stuff on myself, but as you might have noticed in my photos and videos I also try to keep pretty clean. At the same time, I do my best to keep clean in a way that doesn’t pollute our home.

This little thing is called a SmartKlean Laundry Ball and is a great alternative to detergents and soaps that pollute our waterway. The ball is filled with little clay balls, “active components derived from Earth minerals” and is good for 365 loads. It leaves no trace in our aquatic ecosystems like detergent does. It also reduces packaging waste and energy consumption from recycling bottles (which aren’t recycled as much as we’d like to think). Once you’re done with the ball the ceramics inside are even biodegradable.

I have used it over the last 5 years and have had a great experience with it. Honestly, I always struggle with getting my clothes clean in washing machines and I don’t feel like my clothes always get clean. But that goes for whether I used detergents or the SmartKlean. Technology like washing machines and I just don’t work that well together!

Another non-destructive alternative I use is soap nuts or soap berries. This is a berry shell that naturally contains a cleaning agent that works like detergent. They grow on the Sapindus mukorossi (Soap Berry) tree in the Himalayas. In my recent adventure to the Everglades I also found the lesser used North US American species- Sapindus saponaria growing on an abandoned homestead.
These are 100% natural and biodegradable. After using them you can compost them or just throw them in your yard to biodegrade. They are amazingly soapy. I got the ones I currently have from Life Without Plastic.

You can also buy biodegradable, greywater friendly biodegradable soaps such as Dr. Bronner’s. These are made from ingredients that don’t harm plants, so the greywater can be used to water our plants. But you should not let this stuff into our waterways because it’s high in nutrients and causes problems such as algae blooms. Many health food stores have bulk sections where you can bring your own jar to fill up soap, saving the wasteful plastic bottle each time. There are also companies like Fillaree, that do mail order zero waste soap!

The alternatives are out there my friends. We can save a lot of money, reduce our detrimental impacts on the earth and live healthier lives all at the same time!

Here are a few more resources for those of you who are interested in what I personally do and for more information:
My Guide to Earth Friendly Laundry
My Natural Personal Hygiene
More on laundry detergent and the SmartKlean 
An example of a shop where you can fill up your jars with soap

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