Week 31- lemon trees and soap nut trees

Thanks to all the old schoolers out there who descended on the  blog Matthew wrote a few weeks ago to suggest that I use a colouring-in pencil instead of a highlighter. Its just as good and so simple! Why didn’t I think of it?  It’s a classic example of how we somehow get weened of something simple and sustainable and a generation later we have no idea how to something without plastic. Speaking of plastic free, we tried soap nuts for the first time.  Very novel I must say, and despite all the feedback that they work I just wasn’t convinced that these acorn-shell like things in a cotton bag would work.  The instructions say to soak them in warm water first if you are going to do a cold wash, so we did that and then threw them in.  Unlike soaps, soap nuts don’t leave a residue that needs to be rinsed out so you can save water by reducing the length of the cycle, and once the clothes were clean and dry we noticed that our clothes didn’t smell of anything at all.  Which is a good thing I guess.  This particular company, www.scarecrowfarm.co.nz, also sells lavender or lemon oil that can be added to make the clothes smell more or less like a mainstream brand.   We were generally very satisfied with how the wash came out, but there were a couple of t-shirts (the tight under the arm type) that resisted cleaning.   I am pretty keen to try a warmer wash next time and see how that goes, and I need to do a control test.  I.e. I don’t usually go smelling under the armpits of clothes after we’ve washed them, so I will do a regular wash and see if its just the fragrance screening the smell or if it really does do a better job of washing.  Either way, I hope the soap nuts do come through because they are such a fantastic concept, apparently you can even grow your own tree!!

In other rubbish news, a small pile of rubbish was found yesterday when Matthew trimmed the really overgrown lemon tree in our front yard, we haven’t done it since we bought the house five years ago.  Really, if we knew better we wouldn’t go near the garden in a rubbish free year.  It seems every time we do  we unearth a new ensemble of discarded plastic bags, tape, string…plastic doesn’t break down. Whoever lived here before us didn’t mind so much I guess. But we have also been creating rubbish of our own accord.  Apart from the dental floss this is the first time we have chosen to use the ‘grace’ of one bag, (the official challenge is one year, filling no more than one bag of household rubbish for the landfill).  We needed a new hard drive and ‘needed’ wireless.  So we just went out and bought them both new – packaging and all.  We were impressed actually to see how much the industry has changed their packaging in the last couple of years.  Everything used to come in Styrofoam and now computery stuff and phones etc often seem to come in the egg carton type molds instead.  Great to see an industry changing.  One step forward… The only packaging form both purchases that we were unble to recycle were the plastic sleeves that the individual bits came in.  We also rehomed a computer last week.  It hasn’t worked since we got back from Canada last year, we tried all sorts of things to resurrect it, but finally gave up and took it to Molten Media.   That was a good feeling – diverting such a large and noxious item from the landfill.  Molten Media have lots of tecky staff that will reconfigure it andmake it a good cheap computer for someone to buy.  If you live out of Christchurch I encourage you to google for an equivilent service in your area.

5 thoughts on “Week 31- lemon trees and soap nut trees

  1. Hi there

    I recommend putting 6-8 soapnuts into the washbag or an old sock and put it in with your clothes. If clothes are soiled do a hot wash as this releases more sapion and if clothes just need a refresh a cold wash is fine. By putting the berries in the wash (in a bag of course), more sapion (soap) is released and the swishing about in the machine also helps release more soap.
    Just making the solution like you tried is too mild.
    Check out our FAQ on soapnuts – http://www.thesoapnutshop.co.nz

    Don’t give up yet they are little gems. Try it as shampoo too, it feels a little strange at the start because it doesn’t lather but your hair is left feeling really soft when it dries. To make the shampoo just soak 1/2 a dozen berries in warm water for an hour – (I just leave them overnight and use it in the morning for convenience). Then when you are in the shower add some warm water – just so it’s not a painfully cold experience, and pour it over your hair, quick rub and then rinse all done. I don’t even both with conditioner. It’s great for dandruff.

    Have another go 🙂



  2. Great to hear that your electronics packaging was less than expected. We have a similar “consumerism problem” when it comes to computer things. It’s the irony of living in a digital world, you have to keep upgrading. Glad you put your computer to good use documenting your story though.


  3. Have you thought of trying Lush products for shampoo etc? They do shampoo bars that can come without packaging – and I think all the containers they do use are recyclable.

    The products smell great and work really well in my experience!


  4. Hello! I just stumbled across your site as I was looking for a good way to store left over tofu and I must say I am very impressed and encouraged by your efforts for a rubbish free year! I am in the U.S. and, though I know many people that are constantly trying to reduce their waste, I don’t think I’ve seen anyone here doing something so dramatic. I think it’s wonderful. Keep up the good work! I look forward to hearing how the rest of the year goes!


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