Have You Any.... Soap?
It was only three months ago that I found Dr. Bronner's Castille Soap and already I'm saying goodbye. It's not that I don't like the product... I do. In fact, I LOVE that soap. It's all natural, organic, and fair trade. It has a great lather and a yummy scent. It's not tested on animals. Hell, it's even got nice packaging. The only, and I mean only downside to that soap is the distance it travels to arrive at my home. You see, Dr. Bronner's soap is manufactured in a factory out in Escondido, California and I live here in Richmond, VA. That means that every bar that finds its way into my home has traveled over 2,550 miles to get here.
Now, I know that since reading Omnivore's Dilemma, we're all working to get our food miles down under the average 1,500 miles traveled per meal. And according to Deep Economy, we should be doing the same for other purchases. And so I am. In fact, I'm going to begin sourcing as many local products as I can and I'm starting with my soap.
Why start with soap? Because I already found it. Last week at the Farmer's Market, I stumbled upon Wild Heaven Farm Handmade Goat Milk Soaps. Mary, the woman who was selling them, was beyond chirpy and upbeat, but I bought from her anyhow. And I found out that she doesn't just sell them, she's also the one who makes them. And she makes them right here in the Richmond metro area.
According to Mary, the soaps are made from "fresh squeezed" goat milk, palm oil, coconut oil, olive oils and, depending on the soap, oatmeal and/or natural essential oils. I picked up the unscented castille-style soap so that I could try it on my face and (hopefully) replace my Neutrogena face bars, in addition to my body soap.
I'm still using up what's left of my existing soaps (no sense tossing them in a landfill, they've already been purchased) so I won't be using the goat soap exclusively for another couple of weeks, but I have given it a test lather and it's amazing stuff! It lathers up nicely and seems like it won't disintegrate after three uses. Also? I don't know if it's just the castille-style (which is extra-moisturizing), but it has left my skin AMAZINGLY soft. It feels like I'm all lotioned up - and not in a greasy way. Of course you know I had to try it on my hair too and it worked quite well. In fact, it left my hair feeling softer than the Dr. Bronners or even the Burt's Bees shampoo.
I picked up my bar downtown at the Farmer's Market last week, less than 25 miles from my home. But get this, after I checked out the brochure, it turns out the goat farm is located just a hop, skip and a jump away (that equates to approximately 15 1/2 miles). But let's not split hairs here, we'll just call it a savings of 2,500 soap-transporting miles.
Assuming I use one bar of soap every two weeks, and each bar of soap weighs 5 ounces, I would be purchasing over 8 pounds of soap per year. Based on the data I found here, that means that it takes .75 gallons of gas to transport my annual soap allotment. Which is not much, but, when you consider I'm going to the Farmer's Market anyhow to pick up my CSA bounty, it is an annual savings of .75 gallons of gas per year.
Again, you're saying "big deal", 3/4 of a gallon of gas. Whoopdie-doo. But what if everyone in the greater Richmond area purchased their soap locally, rather than truck it in from the opposite coast? Why, we'd save over 902,255 gallons of gas each year! And Mary would now be the wealthiest goat-milker this side of the Mississippi. Which is good because I'll bet she'd need some serious carpal tunnel surgery at that point.
Added bonus? Wild Heaven Farm uses even less packaging than Dr. Bronner. Just a simple paper ring around the center of the soap that lists the ingredients. In fact, I'm betting if I asked real nice, I could even get my soap sans wrap.
Super easy. I'm already at the market, I just swing by the Wild Heaven Farm stand and pick up a bar. But you're thinking "homemade soap? that's gonna be pricey as hell". Well, depends on what you're comparing it to, I guess. If you compare it to cheap-ass Walmart brand soap made with a carcinogen-filled chemical concoctions... well, yeah, anything would seem expensive. But really it's not anymore than what I've been paying. Homemade soap from Wild Heaven Farm: $4.00. Dr. Bronner's soap from California: $3.99.
All in all, I'd say this switch isn't half baaaaaaaaad. Unlike that joke.