Sometimes the green movement really worries me. The idea of replacing toxic chemicals and plastic is admirable don’t get me wrong but why this tendency to reach across the world to find natural materials to replace them when Mother Nature provides everything we need right here? We just need to learn to use less, locally. The latest thing that scares me is the re-emergence (if you are old enough like me you will have seen this fad around 20 years ago) of the use of soap nuts from India together with natural sponges from hot seas for washing. Is this eco? We have our own saponin based plants growing in the UK, 20 years ago when soap nuts first came to the fore here through fair trade mail order companies I researched them to find that Indian women were being priced out of using their traditional cleanser, instead having to buy cheap detergent. Polluting the waterways and causing skin problems. The romantic notion of them sweeping the soapnuts up to package for our guzzling washing machines as ‘green’ is very limited. If it takes nine years for the tree to produce the nuts and we carry on washing like we do, the increasing commercial level of the extraction combined with the transporting of far flung ‘eco’ products across the globe is wrong ethically and sustainably. Do you know we have our own soap making natural ingredients all around us and this is one of the main things Im passionate about teaching at Wild Harvest. If you are happy to pay more for soap nuts you still have to prepare before using, why not simply sweep up some horse chestnuts right here? I started making the odd bottle of horse chestnut liquid wash way back then and it is amazing for skin, hair and softly cleaning clothes. Here are some pictures of our native soap nuts, please think before you online-order another cultures ethnobotanical rights. Localism – it’s their right and our duty. Glycerine is also a uk product and its possible at the easiest level to buy pure glycerine soap base for cheaper than soap, melt and shape into washing bars. or grate as a ‘powder’. Finally, wood-ash and rain water (a bbq left outside) yield Lye, which diluted and used with dried grass (also locally available!) is a washing method or even reduce your lye down and pour into some fat of your choice (even vegan rapeseed fat – another local plant) and you get soap! Birch leaves dried and rubbed seeped in water and a little honeysuckle oil. Soapwort and campion root. How do you think we managed here before Daz and soapnuts? Its not a simple dichotermy; either/or – there are loads of local natural alternatives! Please think outside the box but within our bio-boundaries when you wash!