STORYTIME! “Are your shower bars palm-free and vegan?”
I get asked these questions. A lot. Particularly the vegan question. As someone very aware of my environmental impact, and who literally started a business to help inspire people to improve theirs, this matters to me, too. A lot.
The short answer: yes and no.
Our shower bars are cruelty-free, palm-free and thoughtfully sourced, which includes using locally made lard from well-raised, heritage breed hogs.
So why the lard, you ask? Why just not make them vegan and be done with it?
Grab a seat and a cup of tea, friends, it’s storytime.
When I began formulating my shower bars, environmental impact was top of mind. This includes our footprint and how we support biodiversity.
Researching ingredients, I quickly learned that almost every recipe for natural soap or shampoo has a derivative of palm oil in it. If you haven’t yet heard, palm oil is on the naughty list.
Why? As global demand for oil palm has grown (mostly because it’s replacing now-out-of-fashion trans fats in all sorts of products from shampoo to peanut butter), large-scale farmers are cutting down diverse rainforests to plant a monoculture of oil palm trees. This is happening mostly in Borneo and Sumatra, but expanding into Africa and South America as well.
There is a so-called “round table for sustainable palm” certification, but even that is cloaked in controversy.
When I learned this, I decided that our bars would be palm-free forever. I started searching for alternatives.
Amazingly, there’s a simple solution!
And it’s grown right here in Ohio: Lard.
As part of a soap formula, fats like lard and tallow have many of the same benefits as palm oil: they make a gorgeous rich lather and help the bars last a long time.
And so, I reached out and befriended some local farmers raising heritage breed hogs. They were actually tossing out their pig fat, so I was delighted to 1) have found a local alternative to palm *AND* 2) be making beautiful use of something that otherwise would have been thrown away.
The moral of my tale is this:
There is not a singular way to be “sustainable.” Nope, it’s not black and white; there are no silver bullet answers.
We fully support all varieties of efforts to minimize your footprint such as eating low on the food chain, consuming mindfully, taking public transport, biking, raising kids who are also environmentally mindful, gardening, etc etc etc. Being vegan definitely fits that! But that is not the only way to make a difference.
We choose to support local when we have the opportunity, and take steps forward even before we have “it all figured out.”
And as we grow, we continually engage our questions and keep improving.
So, there you have it. The whole story.
What ways are you living thoughtfully? How would you like to do better? How else can we help?
Let us know in the comments below!