What Are Soapnuts?!

What Are(1)

I have been using Soapnuts for a while now and today I want to share with you just what they are!

I discovered soapnuts a few years back when I was looking for ways to be more eco-friendly, reduce the amount of plastic that I use and minimise the number of chemicals in my day to day life.

Soapnuts are not really nuts at all, they are berries that come from a species of shrub that is part of the Lychee family.  The shrub is called Sapindus and grows in several different places, namely Asia, both Northern and Southern.  The berries have high saponins which work as a detergent and have been used for many years in Asian countries.

Soapnuts can be used to clean a multitude of things, from surfaces, dishes, body and hair.

How I use Soapnuts.

I have been using soapnuts mainly to do my laundry and have replaced shop bought laundry detergent with soapnuts for pretty much all the washing that I now do.  I bought my soapnuts from here.  They came in a cloth bag, and the big draw for me was that there was 280 washes worth, they are compostable and are natural, no chemicals or other nasties that can work their way into our waterways.  They are really easy to use, just pop a few into a muslin bag and tie shut, place in with your laundry and set your machine for the regular cycle you would normally use.  Once the washing is done, dry in the normal way.

The nuts have no scent so I like to add a few drops of essential oil to the nuts before adding to the wash or I use a liquid, ecological conditioner (such as this Ecover one), though not having my clothes smell of anything does not bother me too much.  The soapnuts don’t leave your clothes smelling weird, they just don’t have any scent at all.  You can use the soapnuts two or three times before replacing.

Once the soapnuts have been used for laundry I like to collect them up, and when I have about 25 to 30 shells I place them into hot water and boil for 10 minutes.  I then use the water to rinse my hair or add to a bucket to mop over the floor.  The liquid can also be used to wash the dishes in or can be kept in a spray bottle and used for cleaning worktops.

The soapnuts don’t foam, which at first was really weird for me to get my head around after many years of being used to having soap suds being created when doing any type of cleaning.  It is hard to get your head around the idea that something that doesn’t foam can actually be effectively cleaning things.

I have found that soapnuts clean my laundry really well and lift out dirt and stains as well as regular, shop bought detergents, they don’t fade or discolour fabrics and seem to deal pretty well with things like deodorant build up too.

Have you tried soapnuts?  What are your thoughts about them?  Do you have any other uses for them?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Ways to Become More Eco-Friendy

Becoming more eco-friendly is not just about reducing the amount of plastic that we use, nor is it just making sure that we re-cycle or re-use items as  much as possible, there are so many other things we can do to help the environment and reduce the impact that we have on it, and there are ways that we can help other earth inhabitants to not just survive but to thrive too.  And each little step we take to help our environment goes a long way towards helping us and Earth to survive.

Earth Day, this year, was about raising awareness, and putting into action, plans to Protect Our Species, from tiny insects to larger animals, and there are so many ways we can do our bit to help.

Bees are one of the many declining insects in our world, without them and other insects, we would have no food supplies, we rely on these little creatures to pollinate crops that give us our food.  With no insects we would have no corn, no salads, no crops, no coffee…nothing.  We can help to increase their numbers in lots of different ways – planting bee friendly plants and flowers, encouraging insects into our garden spaces by making insect houses and reducing our use of pesticides.  There is plenty more that we can do from inside the house too, things like reducing the amount of aerosols we use, a good example is to switch from spray canned antiperspirants and using block deodorants instead (I’m especially fond of Lush’s Sunflower Deodorant), using less harsh chemicals when cleaning our homes by making our own cleaners or choosing products that are less harmful to the environment.

Being a more conscious shopper can also help the environment.  Choosing to source and buy more local produce will lead to less carbon emissions, support the local producers and encourage them to plant more crops which, in turn, will encourage more wildlife to stay in the area and survive.  Think about how far the items you buy have had to travel to get to you and take steps to reduce the mileage travelled by each product you buy.

Choose products that will last longer, opt for garments that have been made from materials that are not as harmful to the environment, and where possible, try to steer clear of fast fashion or outfits that you may use only once.  If clothing is ripped or has a hole, opt to mend it rather than replace, and if a garment is dirty or stained then learn the tricks and tips to get stains out rather than add it to landfill.  If that isn’t possible then see if you can salvage parts of it and re-make into something else you can continue to wear or use for a time.

Reduce food waste, create a meal plan and buy only what you need.  If you cook too much food for a meal see if you can use it in another meal or have the leftovers for lunch the following day.  i regularly have pasta and will then have it cold the following day for lunch with a salad.  Freeze leftovers and have them at a later date if you don’t fancy eating it the following day.  If you have foodstuffs that are nearing their expiry date and you know you are not going to use them up, see if friends and family would like to have them instead, or, see if you can invite friends and family over and use the items in a feast.

There is so much more that we can be doing for the survival of all species if we just use our brains more and think about what we are doing.  I’m sure that there are lots of other ways we can become more eco-friendly.  What tips do you have?  Let me know in the comments….