For the last two years our family has enjoyed the British Arrow Awards, shown at a local Art Museum venue. Last December, one of the award winning animations was about a child who drew an orangutan that came to life in the child’s bedroom. I remember it distinctly because it had some surprisingly sobering footage mixed in with its innocent lilting child-like poem.
Fast forward to February 2020, when I was sitting next to a close friend of the presenter of a workshop focused on a zero-waste lifestyle. The second or third slide they showed was something about Palm oil. I could barely read the slide before they played the very same commercial I had seen about the orangutans and their habitat! This time it seemed like the sobering content was in slow motion, as the visuals of bulldozers razing the rain forest were burned in my brain. I assured my neighbor, that Blue Heron Soaps had only a little palm oil (mostly coconut oil) and that the source of it was RSPO certified. She said, “That doesn’t matter. ALL palm oil is bad.”
I went home and did a little research and spoke with my kids (ages 21, 18, 17 and 12) and ALL (this deserves to be in all caps as it's close to miraculous!) of them agreed that going palm-free was a good thing to do for our environment. One of my guiding principles is to leave things better than when I found them, so I began researching. I came to understand the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is a global certification formed in 2004 to set the standard for sustainable palm oil production. However, the folks that produced the standard are committed to promoting the use of palm oil over producing palm oil sustainably. Having a financial interest makes certification less objective and nowhere near as reliable as third party verification. Blue Heron Soaps are produced with RSPO certified palm oil, but at that point I committed to formulating a bar that was palm FREE.
After buying the company in March 2020, adjusting, making and more than a few trials and errors, Blue Heron Soap Company now offers at least 8 kinds of environmentally friendly soaps which replaces the palm oil with shea butter (a more sustainable resource coming from the nut of trees grown in Africa). The soaps seem to still smell delightful, lather richly, and are moisturizing for skin.
The bars seem to be slightly softer and so our next batches will adjust to add a bit more hardness. Blue Heron shampoo bars are also palm free!
Besides removing palm from our standard ingredients list, it is important for us to eliminate plastic. We’ve begun the journey in our household. For Blue Heron, we’ve ordered some compostable clear bags made from vegetable fibers (coming in later this year) and we’re doing our best to explore creative natural fibers to wrap our soaps beautifully and sustainably.
Some of you know more about palm oil, sustainability and reducing plastic than we do either through personal experience, travel or education. Thank you for sending us links to articles, and for climbing on board and supporting us as we seek to make our soaps sustainably, responsibly, and beautifully. It helps to know you support us in this endeavor.
If you have tried our palm-free zero-waste soaps, we are interested in how you like them! Let us know by emailing email@example.com!
Our palm-free, zero-waste soap ingredients are the Saponified oils of: Coconut, Shea Butter, Olive, Rice Bran, Castor and Apricot Kernel plus essential oils for their added aromatherapy and skin nourishing effects. These bars are wrapped with a bow made of compostable string or twine, and some have added natural décor to dress them up for gifting. For now, they ship without individual bags unless requested (or labels—we’re working on that!), completely plastic free, in recyclable paper packaging.