A lovely young woman entered the soaperie on Sunday. She glowed with good health, with her small daughter on her hip and the 'bump' of another little one on the way. She closely examined our products and took the time to read our signage. The woman made her selection and came to speak with me at the counter. She said "it's lovely what you're doing here with all natural ingredients"....and I felt good. I felt good because I knew she could rub our balm on her skin, and her little girl could bathe with our goats milk soap and they would be safe with our products.
And then she asked "are your ingredients organic". Well, this is where the conversation really became interesting. First, I explained that many of our ingredients are certified organic, some of our ingredients are organic but I would need to pay a fee to have the certification sent through to me and others of our ingredients are sourced from 'no spray' farms that have no certification. I explained that I haven't gone down the 'certified' track, because my vision is to make authentically natural products accessible to as many people as possible.
Recently I saw an advertisement for a certified organic cleanser. It was 120 grams for $43.00. I have no doubt that the cleanser satisfied organic requirements and I fully accept that the product is more expensive to formulate with fully 'certified' ingredients. I have no problems at all with people purchasing this cleanser if they can afford it. If the demand is there, this product will thrive and that's perfectly ok.
What bothers me more are the 'masqueraders' - like the 80 gram bar of soap that 'contains' organic ingredients and sells for $10-00. This is the type of product that takes really close examination in order to find out whether it's truly organic or 'natural and organic' - which is different. I'm annoyed when makers play with words to catch the busy consumer.
The young woman and I talked a little more. She told me that there's a soap maker at her local organic markets, but her soap is too expensive for their young family to afford. In fact, it turns out that although she is totally committed to providing safe, organic food for her family the fruit and veggies at the same organic market are also priced beyond the reach of their family.
And herein lies the dilemma. Often the very same informed and committed people are the ones who are 'out priced' by certified organic products. The young woman is not alone - from the elderly farmer who itches when he uses commercial wash, to the young educated 'down sizer', determined not to spend all their days working for high priced consumer goods when there's so much more to life - these are the people I yearn to supply with healthy products.
I'll continue to do my very best to source the most natural, healthy ingredients for our products. Much of the time that will mean certified organic - like our shea butter, cacao butter and virgin coconut oil. I will choose spray free where possible and cold pressed, local oils such as avocado, macadamia and extra virgin olive oil.
So no, I won't be taking the 'certified' path anytime soon. I'd love to, but my biggest priority is to make products that are free from parabens, preservatives, tricoslan, synthetic fragrances, palm oil and many other unnecessary ingredients. If anyone knows of a consistent supply of certified organic olive oil at a reasonable price I'm all ears - I refuse to make soap without it, as I think it's critical to a good bar of soap.
In the meantime I'll keep making soap for as many people as I possiby can. Your natural skincare needs and budget are on my mind.
PS. There is just one more thing I'd like to say about organic soap I've seen recently. Beware the commercial soap bar made with 'organic palm oil'. To spot these products, flip over the pack and read the ingredients and if you see "Sodium Palmitate" or "Sodium Palm Kernelate" as the first ingredients you'll know that they're made with certified organic palm oil. Often you'll read 'made with vegetable oil' on the front of the pack. Just something to watch out for, as these bars will not be handmade but will be made with commercial 'soap noodles' ground up and pressed into metal moulds. In this case 'certified organic' will not make them lovely soap that is gentle to the skin.