Wednesday, June 9, 2010


My last posting, the one about bubbles, reminded me of another post that I have wanted to write for some time: one about soap.

"You've got to be kidding." No, I'm actually serious.

You see, I believe that it is the responsibility of every Baha'i to live as harmoniously with nature as possible. In fact, I believe this to be true of all people of spirit. When we recognize nature as an embodiment of the divine will, then we will treat it more and more with the respect it deserves.

"And what, pray tell, does this have to do with soap?"

Soap, from what I can tell, is one of the products in the average household that is harshest on the environment. What, I had to wonder, should I do, as a Baha'i, to help take better care of the world around me?

Well, the answer came in an unexpected way: our dryer died one afternoon. I had a load of wet laundry and was faced with a dryer that did anything but. What to do? That wasn't a difficult problem, as I hung everything outside to dry in the sun, for it happened to be a sunny day. When my wife came home, we did a quick bit of research on the internet and headed out to buy a new dryer.

Upon arriving at the store, we found ourselves looking at new washing machines. They looked so much more snazzy than the boring old dryers.

The long and short of it is that our dryer broke, so we bought a new washing machine. Now this wasn't just some capricious whim of consumerism, for we figured our washer was soon to go, too. We also happened to choose a front-loader that was high efficiency, so bonus for us.

Then, when we saw the price of the "matching" dryer, we really questioned whether or not it was worth it. And so we found ourselves at home with a new washing machine and no dryer. Fortunately we happened to have a couple of drying racks, a dehumidifier and a fan. Put them all together and voila: no need for a dryer.

Not only did this save us the cost of the dryer, which was nearly $800, if memory serves, but also the exorbitant cost to run the thing. Plus, it was another very good move for the environment. Double bonus for us.

But what does all this have to do with soap?

Well, by getting an HE washer, we had to get HE soap. We had been given a sample, and so used it, but still had to find a long-term solution (no chemistry pun intended).

As we were looking for a good, enviornmentally friendly alternative to the usual junk on the market, we happened to be at a health food store, and the lady there gave us a sample of Kaley's soap nuts. She said that they worked well in the HE machines. I went back a day later and bought the largest bag they had. I think it cost $40, and now, nearly two years later, I still have half of the bag left. What other laundry soap will cost so little for so long? Oh, and it's not that we do lanudry so rarely, but rather that it lasts so long.

We place about 5 of the nuts in a small cloth bag and toss it in the wash. When we remove the laundry, we put the soap bag aside and use it for a total of 4 or 5 loads. It is only when the nuts begin to change their texture that they lose their potency.

Needless to say, I'm hooked on those things.

Also, by not having a dryer, and using these nuts as well, our laundry has never been so soft. No static, no loss of clothing due to a harsh dryer (what do you think all that dryer lint is? It's your clothing), and no waste of resources.

Not too bad, if you ask me.

So what does this have to do with being a Baha'i? Well, the Guardian says, "We cannot segregate the human heart from the environment outside us and say that once one of these is reformed everything will be improved. Man is organic with the world. His inner life moulds the environment and is itself also deeply affected by it. The one acts upon the other and every abiding change in the life of man is the result of these mutual reactions."
The soap nuts, and the lack of a dryer are, of course, just a simple and small step to helping the environment, but it is a start.
As Baha'is, we can also help our communities become more "green". For example, there is a wonderful web-site about making sacred spaces more environmentally friendly. I believe that it would do a world of good if we encouraged our Assemblies to look at this site and try to make some of the changes suggested. There a variety of suggestions, ranging from something as simple as not purchasing styrofoam cups to something as sophisticated as solar paneling on the roof. In other words, there is something for everyone.
Me? I started with the soap nuts, and also made some basic dietary changes. But let me caution you, don't try to make peanut butter with the soap nuts. It tastes really yucky, and gives "going green" a whole new meaning.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    Thank you so much for that lovely article about our product Kaley's Soap Nuts. I am so glad you love them as much as we do. I had a lady from Texas contact me to buy a bag and she said she read your blog, so thank you again.