(NaturalNews) American consumers are increasingly aware that plastics contain bisphenol-A, air fresheners contain phthalates, and antibacterial soaps contain a chemical called Triclosan, but few people realize that laundry detergent products often contain synthetic chemicals that pose a hazard to human health as well as the environment. Consumer health website NaturalNews has now teamed up with Maggie's Soap Nuts to acquire enough natural, eco-friendly laundry detergent to wash 500,000 loads of laundry in an environmentally friendly way, and it is distributing the product to readers in an effort to replace chemical laundry detergents with a safer, more natural alternative.
The solution to toxic laundry detergents? Soap nuts! Grown by Mother Nature and harvested from the sapindus mukorrosi tree, soap nuts contain a natural laundry soap in the skin of their shells. When washed with water, they release their natural saponins which act as surfactants, helping water bind with dirt and grime, lifting particles away from clothing in the same way that laundry detergent does, but without resorting to the use of synthetic chemicals.
Soap nuts replace all commercial laundry detergents with a 100% natural laundry soap grown by Mother Nature. They contain absolutely no synthetic chemicals or additives, and they're sustainably harvested in countries like Indonesia, India and Taiwan. The soap contained in the shell of the soap berry is highly concentrated: Just two or three soap nut shells cleans an entire load of laundry. The saponins also naturally exhibit antibacterial and antifungal properties, leading to fresh, clean smelling clothes without the need for artificial fragrance chemicals.
Soap berries have been used for generations in Asian countries, but their use fell out of favor when manufactured "western" laundry products began to appear on the market in the mid 1900's. In much the same way that Asian consumers have begun to experience typical western diseases (like cancer and heart disease) as they abandoned their traditional diets in favor of processed western foods, their adoption of western chemical products instead of using local solutions from nature is also contributing to a sharp rise in disease throughout the region. Today, only "poor" families in Asia continue to use soap nuts to wash their clothes. "Rich" families used processed, packaged and heavily marketed chemical detergent products in much the same way that they now increasingly eat processed foods.
A cooperative purchase for NaturalNews readers
Here at NaturalNews, we believe that Mother Nature creates better products than chemical factories. Due to a very high level of interest in natural laundry detergent by our readers, we sought to acquire a large quantity of this product at a volume price, packaged in an environmentally-friendly way. Working with Maggie's Soap Nuts, we were able to complete this acquisition and make these soap nuts available in a 1kg cloth bag at half the price (per ounce) of the previous soap nuts product we offered. Now, the new 1kg soap nuts product cleans clothes at a cost of only about 15 cents per load (which is less than many commercial laundry detergents made with synthetic chemicals).
Laundry detergent chemicals are not actually regulated by the FDA, and virtually none of the chemicals currently used in commercial laundry products have been safety tested for long-term use by consumers. Industry simply assumes that since consumers are not ingesting the chemicals, there is no need to be concerned about their safety.
While this limited thinking about the permeability of human skin may have provided a convenient excuse for not testing these chemicals a few decade ago, we now know that chemicals that come into contact with skin are, in fact, absorbed through the skin and enter the blood stream. Once in the blood, they enter the liver and other organs where they can disrupt normal cellular processes, damage DNA and interfere with healthy hormone function.
Typical American consumers carry over 300 synthetic chemicals in their hearts, livers, brains and kidneys. These chemicals are acquired through foods (chemical additives) and the environment (chemicals in consumer products and work environments, primarily). Laundry products may play a significant role in the total chemical burden of typical consumers.
The use of commercial laundry detergents containing synthetic chemicals potentially exposes infants and children to harmful substances. The widespread use of fabric softeners and dryer sheets creates yet more chemical exposure through contaminated clothing. I believe that these chemicals are directly correlated with neurological disorders, autoimmune disorders and reproductive disorders, not to mention various forms of cancer and degenerative brain diseases (like Alzheimer's).
Over the last several decades, the chemical industry has fudged its science and applied tremendous political pressure to try to prevent the public from learning the truth about the hazards of chemicals used in antibacterial soaps, cosmetics, skin creams, shampoos, home cleaning products and many other similar items. Thanks to the internet, the truth about the toxicity of these synthetic chemicals is finally starting to emerge. A fascinating new book on this subject is called The Secret History of the War on Cancer by Devra Davis. It exposes the lies of the chemical industry in trying to sweep the truth about the chemical causes of cancer under the rug even while profiting from the screening and treatment of cancer. (The book is just being released in October, 2007. Ask for it at your bookstore, or order it online.)
The environmental burden of chemical laundry detergents
I believe that people who wash their clothes in popular, brand-name laundry detergents are in fact washing their clothes in chemical poisons. Even worse, these poisons are washed down stream with every load of laundry, where they ultimately poison aquatic ecosystems and contribute to the toxicity of our rivers and oceans.
There are over 150 "dead zones" in the oceans of the world today where fish cannot live, and nearly all of them have formed where runoff from man-made chemicals meets ocean waters. While these dead zones are primarily blamed on agricultural runoff, I have no doubt that toxic chemical waste from U.S. households is a strong contributing factor. Typical household chemical waste substances include:
Pharmaceuticals, dish soap, skin care products, cosmetics, synthetic hormones used in HRT, cleaning products, car oil, laundry products and foods containing chemical additives.
Most consumers don't think twice about what they flush down their toilets or wash down their drains, but it's time that we all learned to think holistically about our interaction with our planet. We must consider how much fossil fuel we burn, how much waste packaging we create, what farming practices we encourage based on what we buy at the grocery store, what we put on our lawns and what we wash down the drain with our laundry. When we take care to purchase and consume the fewest chemicals possible, we greatly reduce our toxic footprint on the planet while protecting our own health at the same time.
I believe these soap nuts are a product whose time has come. As more and more consumers turn to Mother Nature for answers, they will stop purchasing toxic chemicals and, instead, find solutions provided by nature. Soap Nuts are precisely such a solution: They're easy to use, sustainably harvested without pesticides, packaged without using a cardboard box, safe for the environment and very good at washing clothes. Here at NaturalNews, we've put forth a tremendous amount of effort to make this product available to our readers at the best price possible, and I am happy to be part of this effort that will result in half a million loads of laundry being washed without toxic chemicals.
That's how we change the world: Change the way we live day to day! Want to change the world yourself? Upgrade your soap, your shopping habits, your lawn care chemicals, your shampoo and your cosmetics. Eat plants instead of pharmaceuticals, and you'll urinate nutrients instead of poison. Wash your clothes in soap nuts instead of manufactured laundry detergent and you'll protect life down stream instead of destroying it.
By the way, even as we are offering this natural laundry product, I simultaneously support companies like Seventh Generation who have a full line of eco-friendly cleaning products. Please shop for eco-friendly cleaning products every chance you get. Laundry is just one category: There are many others. Be mindful of everything you use on your skin, in your home and around your property. Everything you buy eventually ends up in the environment. It's your choice of whether you want to nurture it or poison it.
DISCLAIMER: NaturalNews does sell the product mentioned here, and revenues help fund NaturalNews operations. We make no health claims whatsoever about the use of soap nuts, other than to state what is NOT in it: No synthetic chemicals, pesticides or additives of any kind. Inventory is limited and available on a first come, first served basis. Product satisfaction is guaranteed.
In addition to his lab work, Adams is also the (non-paid) executive director of the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center (CWC), an organization that redirects 100% of its donations receipts to grant programs that teach children and women how to grow their own food or vastly improve their nutrition. Click here to see some of the CWC success stories.
With a background in science and software technology, Adams is the original founder of the email newsletter technology company known as Arial Software. Using his technical experience combined with his love for natural health, Adams developed and deployed the content management system currently driving NaturalNews.com. He also engineered the high-level statistical algorithms that power SCIENCE.naturalnews.com, a massive research resource now featuring over 10 million scientific studies.