The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish
April 10, 2009

Plastic-Free Soap Nuts

UPDATE: Sadly, LaundryTree has closed its doors.  You can now buy plastic-free soap nuts from Life Without Plastic, but don’t leave just yet!  This is still a great story about how to get companies to change their packaging.  It also contains practical information about soap nuts and how to use them.

The original post…

Put on your fuzzy slippers. Grab a mug of cocoa. Sit back, and let me tell you a little story about why it’s worth it for us to ask for what we want. There’s free stuff at the end, so hang in with me.

Have you ever done your laundry with soap nuts or been curious to find out how they work? Soap nuts grow on a tree called Sapindus mukorossi (Chinese Soapberry) and contain saponin, a natural surfactant which foams just like soap. I’ve wanted to try soap nuts since I first spotted them in a natural grocery store a couple of years ago but have always been deterred by the plastic in the packaging. Although they are imported, the idea of using a laundry soap that contains only one, minimally-processed natural ingredient (the soap nuts are harvested, de-seeded, and sun-dried) appealed to me.

So last month, when the bloggers at Tiny Choices announced a LaundryTree soap nuts giveaway, I was pretty excited. Excited, that is, until I clicked on the site and saw the soap nuts packaging. Looked like plastic bags to me.

Not one to give up so easily, I left a comment asking what the packaging was made from. I wanted to be sure. Jenn at Tiny Choices forwarded my comment to Lisa at LaundryTree, who responded to me right away and asked for helping de-plasticking her packaging.

Less than one month later, LaundryTree has already switched to recycled paper bags! Check out the sample I received in the mail:

The natural kraft paper bags contain 40% recycled content and are lined with a minimal amount of PLA (to keep the soap nuts fresh) which makes the bags fully compostable or recyclable.

I am so impressed with a business owner that listens to her customers and responds so quickly. Isn’t this the kind of business we’d all like to support?

Of course, the packaging would be irrelevant if the soap nuts themselves didn’t work. So before writing this post, I of course tried them out. And actually, I could just send you over to the Tiny Choices review of soap nuts because their review is very similar to what I’m about to write here. They even linked to the same Wikipedia page. But to spare you the extra clicks, I’ll go ahead and write my own glowing review.

Soap nuts only release their saponin in warm or hot water. I wash in cold to save energy. But never fear, there is an easy solution. Mix up a batch of SoapNuts Soak by bringing a pot of water to a boil, removing it from the heat, tossing in 6-8 soap nuts, and letting them sit covered over night. In the morning, strain into a couple of glass jars. The used soap nuts can go in the compost. Use 1/4 to 1/2 cup per laundry load.

By the way, I’ve noticed that another major distributor of soap nuts is now selling a liquid version in plastic bottles. Look how easy it is to make without the plastic. Easy as boiling water. Of course, if you’re like me and forget about pots on the stove, this procedure might not be as easy as it is for most. Still, I can deal. Because one batch of Soapnut Soak will do at least 8 loads of laundry.

Now, I’ll be honest. Soap nuts smell pretty darned funky. In fact, when I poured some out on the carpet this morning to take a picture, Soots and Arya went just a little nutty sniffing them. So, as you can imagine, I was skeptical about how my laundry would smell. LaundryTree promises that our clothes will not end up smelling like the soap nuts.

So, after adding the Soapnut Soak to my cold water load of light colors, and watching in amazement at the amount of foamy bubbles produced, I felt compelled to sniff every item as it came out of the washing machine. And you know what? They just smelled clean. Fresh. That’s the only way I can describe the scent. It was nothing like the smell of the soap nuts.

Some people prefer to add scent to their laundry, and to that end, LaundryTree sells a variety of essential oils. For me, the oils were completely unnecessary. I like my clean to smell like clean.

So, would you like to try them? LaundryTree has kindly offered to provide sample bags of soap nuts (the size of the small cloth pouch in the photo) to 10 lucky winners. Each winner will receive two bags: one to keep and one to share with a friend. Here are my contest rules, which I am making up on the spot:

NOTE: The soap nuts contest is over and winners have been announced here.

1) Leave a comment below. Since I wrote a letter to Planet Earth yesterday, and since Planet Earth was kind enough to respond, please add your two cents. What would you say to Planet Earth if you had the chance? Make it as long or short as you want. Planet Earth has all the time in the world.

2) Please leave a way for me to contact you. If you have a blog, you can leave the URL of your blog. If not, you can email me directly with your email address. But you must leave a comment here first!

Why am I requiring contact info this time? Because I don’t want to have to chase after your butts if you win and then don’t check back and then I have to choose someone else. Feh. Let’s just get it right the first time!

Want your soap nuts right away? Lisa is offering Fake Plastic Fish readers a 15% discount through April 20. Use the discount code FAKEPLASTICFISH when you place your order. Lisa is still using up her supply of plastic bags, but if you use that code, you’ll not only receive a discount, but you can be assured that your soap nuts will be packaged in paper.

Oh, and one more thing. Soap nuts come in various sized bags, so order the largest size you’ll use to avoid unnecessary waste. Paper and PLA, as you know, have their eco consequences too.

82 Responses to “Plastic-Free Soap Nuts”

  1. ecomartin says:

    @Rebecca that is some really interesting information.  I’m going to look further into this, is I am a big fan and user, and advocate and promoter, of soap nuts.  I had no idea about the consequences you mentioned.

  2. Rebecca says:

    I scanned over the other comments, however, I didn´t read every single of them, so I´m sorry if someone else already pointed this out: While I appreciate the idea of a laundry detergent that grows on trees and doesn´t have to be made from chemicals… I read a book recently that made me re-think my enthusiasm on this particular “green product” (and some others, too). The book is called “Ende der Märchenstunde” and is in German… so probably not too interesting for most of the readers of this blog. ;-) Essentially, it´s about questioning the actual impact of “conscious consumerism”, and here´s what the author had to say about soapnuts:

    While they are certainly less toxic than “normal” detergent, we might actually be releasing more toxins into the environment by using them. And why is this? Because since so many people in the USA and Europe think it´s cool to go green and want to use soap nuts, prices of this crop have multiplied and a lot of people in India, where it is native, are no longer able to afford it. So while soap nuts are exported to the so-called first world, a lot of Indians have switched to cheap chemical detergents, possibly more aggressive than most and applied by hand by those who don´t own a laundry machine.

    Authors conclusion? “Green” products are a hoax.
    My conclusion? Not necessarily all the time… but just because something seems to be green, doesn´t mean it really is. And in order to know whether we are making the right choices, we ought to try looking at the big picture. Though, of course, that´s easier said than done…

    I´ve tried to verify the story above by finding other sources for it, but I haven´t yet. What I HAVE found is other accounts of how the price for soap nuts is now many times of what it used to be. And while the consequences weren´t mentioned in those other sources, to me, they sound too rational to dismiss.
    So… I don´t buy soapnuts anymore.
    What I use, at the moment, is some sort of ball that according to the description contains minerals and stuff to clean your laundry and allegedly can be used about 1000 times before wearing out. I don´t know whether I´ll stick to that method forever, but at the moment, it seems to be the best solution I´ve been able to find.

  3. Thien An says:

    I have been looking for this berry for so long! I'm glad to have found it on your website and your great review of

    My mother used to wash her hair with these berries when she was much younger living in Vietnam. Ever since I've been looking for them and coming up with weird names. Earlier tonight, gave up and decided to write the simplest thing that came to my mind and it happened to bring me to your website.

    Thank you!!

    Thien An from

  4. Laura says:

    I got my winnin’s in the mail a few days ago. Thanks for hosting the contest!

  5. Mama says:

    Mother Earth,
    Thanks for being who you are and I’m sorry we do not take better care of you. I’m trying my best to be responsible and teach my daughter how to take better care of you. I hope more people realize the importance of taking care of you.


  6. Corinna says:

    What a great blog you have! I found you in my search for soap nuts info. You’ve convinced me that it’s something I need to try so if the promo is still open please throw my hat in the ring.

    And my question to Mother Earth – Please can you tell me if the little things I am doing add up? I worry that it’s just a drop in the ocean since corporations are still allowed to pollute with little or no consequence.

  7. Fake Plastic Fish says:

    Anita, I’m sorry you got the plastic bag! Did you use the FAKEPLASTICFISH discount code?

  8. Anita K says:

    I was so excited to try these, especially with the no plastic packaging, but I got my soapnuts in plastic. Maybe it was because I ordered a kit with fragrance and they were pre-packed. I dunno. I was a bit bummed, but if they work for me I will order more contingent on the packaging!

    This is the constant struggle, trying to go against what, for some reason, is still the mainstream! It shouldn’t take so much effort to reduced my own plastic use. We try!

    Thank for the review for this product and for helping them change their packaging!

  9. Kathryn says:

    Dear Mother Earth,

    We’re trying!

    kath1216 [AT] aol [DOT] com

  10. Heather says:

    i’d love to try soapnuts

  11. InJuneau says:

    Dear Mother Earth:

    Does it annoy you when everyone says that earthquakes and volcanic eruptions that occur near each other in time but on opposite sides of an ocean or around the edges of adjacent tectonic plates aren’t related? I’m a geologist by training, and it annoys me when people think they’re not, when it should be so obvious that they are.

    Trying my best to help protect you (doing a lot of walking…)…

  12. Mrs Bell Gets Schooled says:

    Dear Earth,
    Thank you and I vote you as the TRUE Miss Universe!

    Stephanie Bell (@prncesspurdylily)

  13. Caloden says:

    I just started reading your site and am loving it! Thank you so much for all the research you do and sharing it.

    Is it too late to enter the soap nut drawing? If so, I will visit the other site and order some. Or just do that anyway.

    Thank again!

  14. Lynn from says:


    I love your brand of activism. I love how you raise the right questions and work with companies to get to more sustainable solutions. First Brita, now SoapNuts…what’s next?

    Of course, if every company responded like SoapNuts did, what a different world this would be….

    Great, great story – thanks for sharing.

    And I’ve been wondering what the heck all the buzz was about soapnuts…now I have to try them!

  15. Layla says:

    Not after the soapnuts – we have some already! :)

    Great post though!!

    Have you researched PLA well & would it be okay for food products too?
    (& is it fully recyclable/compostable/zero waste & health friendly? any links to research/studies would be heartily appreciated!)

    I talked to an organic pasta manufacturer & they were interested to hear about alternatives to cellophane?!!

    Also, local soapnuts distributors here in Slovenia mostly offer cellophane/plastics versions too, so I might ask them a similar question like you have? ;)

    my Mum washes hair with soapnuts+aa bit of lemon juice now too, & she loves it! We found the recipe for very oily hair on LHC (Longhair forums)

    We were told you can reuse the soapnuts in the local shop, washing eg 2 times on lower temperature, & 3rd time on higher temperature-?
    Do you just use cold water & not even 'low temperature' like 30°C or 40°C?

    might try your recipe to see if it washes better, on lower temperature some of the stains didn't get removed..
    & there was a slightly acidic smell when clothes were wet (my nose is veery sensitive!) but it disappeared when clothes were dry!
    so, definitely intend to use 'em again, especially if I can find zero waste ones!

  16. Braedy Tritthart says:

    I’d say… Planet Earth I’m sorry for the way I’ve treated you the majority of my life. I’ve woken up and seen what I’ve been doing to you, and I’m working on that extra hard now. I devote my time and effort into improving my carbon footprint. I’ve become a vegetarian, started recycling, composting, and purchasing all organics, organic and sustainable crop clothing. I’ve seen the error of my ways, and am ready to change, and hope to inspire others along the way.

  17. AJP says:

    I would apologize to Mother Earth for the footprint that I have inevitably created.

  18. Harry says:

    Condo Blues,

    According to the laundry tree website,

    “Can I use soapnuts in HE/front loading washers?

    – Absolutely! In fact, because they don’t create many suds, soapnuts are great for high-efficiency (HE, or front-loading) washers! A front-loading washing machine requires a special detergent, called HE detergent, to allow it to clean your laundry properly. HE detergent is unique because it doesn’t produce lots of suds like regular detergent does.

    Soapnuts are naturally a low-sudsing product — with no added fillers, dyes or chemicals to create bubbles in the wash. But even without the bubbles, you will find that the soapnuts will thoroughly clean your laundry.”

    Someone else asked about shampoo, website didn’t say anything, but did suggest using .5 cups of soapnut soak to 2 cups of water as a produce wash…

  19. Condo Blues says:

    Yo Mama (Earth),

    What’s up? As a student of history, I know that humans are a wasteful species. Drives me nuts, but I can’t get all doom and gloom on you because I see little things around me that show that as a whole, we humans are getting better at treating you right. I see that people are buying less extra stuff, trying to make do with what they have, and reuse things instead of tossing them in a landfill. I see people trying to use less gas/electric/water. They are proclaiming 2009 The Year of the Garden because so many people plan on growing vegtables. Some are fueled by environmental reasons other for economic but These simple changes are common ground where both sides can meet and talk about the joys of compost or whatever, without political stimga. I call that progress.

    Condo Blues

    PS: Beth, can you use soapnuts in a HE washing machine? If not, please don’t enter me in the contest because I have to use low suding detergent in my front loader. I’ll sadly stick with my low waste, homemade laundry detergent.

  20. oksoimnotperfect says:

    Dear Earth,
    How many people do we need to make the change away from plastic before you start feeling better?

    Just started reading your blog & love it.

  21. Susan Dorey says:

    I’m willing to try using soapnuts in my front-loading washing machine. I greatly appreciate the absence of plastic packaging! And the absence of “fragrance.”

    Can soapnuts be used for shampoo?

    Susan Dorey

  22. Olivia says:

    Another thing:
    soapnuts are here sold in bags made with fabrics (no platis bags). You can then reuse the bag for another purpose!Sorry for my poor english ….

  23. Olivia says:

    I am French and I have been using soapnuts for nearly 2 years. It is a great way to wash your clothes, and it really works ! It is environment friendly compared to washing powder. Ok, it comes from Himalaya (so use of petrol to bring it over to my country). But think about the impact of washing powder or liquid on the environement: a plastic bottle, petrol to produce it + petrol to produce the washing powder (liquid) + petrol to bring it to your supermarket + petrol to bring the bottle home (welle 6 times per year !). Well, a kilo of soapnuts lasts 18 months !!! So it saves you money too !
    I used soapnuts to wash my babie’s washable nappies, no problem at all! It is also great for people who are allergical to chemicals!
    This product is natural, so it is great for our health.
    In France, it is now possible to by soapnuts in ‘normal’ supermarket. I now know a lot of people who use them and there are not particularly cautious about the environment!!!
    USE THEM !

  24. Cheap Like Me says:

    Dear Earth,

    Sorry I missed you yesterday for the holiday. I was at my other mother’s house for Easter dinner. Those events are getting more exciting, though, as my family members have begun reading my blog, and nearly every time I see them they are excited to show me something they are doing that is good for you. This time, my sister had made a completely eco-friendly Easter basket for my daughter (a paper bag with handmade paper decorations, some books and clothing inside), and my mother just bought a Dutch oven to begin making her own bread. I know we have a long way to go, but hopefully these little actions make you smile. Are you noticing our efforts, or do you plan to kill us off in the near future?

    Cheap Like Me

  25. Harry says:

    Those soapnuts things sound cool. Would those who pick them up mind doing some science for the rest of us and see how well they work in front load vs top washers, cold vs warm water for the liquid and solid versions, etc?

    hjohnson587 at good ole G-Mail (take THAT spam bots!)

    Dear Earth,

    I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately. We seem to be going through a rough patch in our relationship these days. I love your birds and flowers, and you do a lot for me that I don’t even know. Looking to the face of that wolf made me breathless, and you know I’m on your side about the hunting of them that’s going to start. I think it’s pretty cool how you gave some atoms to form some plants and animals that my parents ate to form me. But for a random sack of atoms that formed by pure chance thanks to you, I sure don’t treat you right.

    I always wanted to live forever, Earth. Losing the cohesion of my atoms scares me. I still am in denial over it’s eventual occurrence. But I’m starting to realize I already have achieved immortality, in some form. Every piece of plastic I use will still remain, even after most of my molecules have become small furry animals. I just hope the suburban species diversity improves by that point, I don’t want to be a pigeon or grey squirrel. But I’m forgetting the point, that the most lasting mark I will likely make is the remaining CO2 produced to power my life, all the chemicals I’ve used, and all the trash I’ve thrown into the ground. That’s not how I want you to remember me.

    I don’t know what I can do to treat you right, Earth. You’re high maintenance. It’s so easy to tread on you without realizing.

    This is hard, Earth. I don’t know if I can change. But I know we’re meant to be together. Maybe we should get couples therapy. Though that’s not fair to you, I’m just wanting more than you can give. When have I ever had to give for you?

  26. plastic earthling says:


    Can you feel the fish swimming in the ocean, and does it make you itchy to have so many things crawling on you, and when it lightnings do you get excited like me, and do you miss the moon?

  27. Fancy Pants Elitist says:

    Wow this is absolutely a terrific Idea. And they will work in HE front loaders! This is terrific, thanks for the tip! Please include me in the contest.

    twitter me at LadyLiberty13

  28. Robj98168 says:

    Dear Earth-
    Man is supposed to be caretaker of you.
    I am sorry for the way man has taken care of you. It seems a lot of times that Man uses the easy way to acheive things. My guilt is laundry-
    I have used soap nuts in the past- they worked adequate. But then I got into the recycled bottle thing. I may have to give them another try.
    Love, Rob

  29. Greenjoycie says:

    Dear Mother Earth,
    I have been trying to help keep you cleaner. Everyone in my family has noticed, and everyone at work. Trying these soap nuts would be another way to help. Thank you.

    Joyce Howden

  30. Nina says:

    Dear Planet Earth, my family is really trying to do all we can to make life better for all living beings. I despair that others are making bad choices and hope that what I am doing now will make a difference.

    Please send a sign to the men and women carrying around paper coffee cuos and a danish packed in clear clam shell packaging. Send them a sign.

    I would love to win the soap nuts. I am close to being out of my detergent and am researching new alternatives.

    New reader with a blog and contact info. :)

  31. diana says:

    my email was rejected, I’ll try again. Still didn’t work, said it failed permanently!


  32. Anonymous says:

    Dear Planet Earth,

    Sorry about the mess, we’re trying to get it cleaned up!


    P.S. Happy Birthday (april 22) ;o)

  33. monkeyjen says:

    soapnuts soapnuts soapnuts. gimme. you said u love me. you know how to reach me. :-X

  34. Mindful Momma says:

    So Mother Earth – what else do you have up your sleeve? You make food that nourishes our bodies, medicines that cure our ills and now nuts that clean our clothes??? You are truly amazing!

    (and thank goodness you’ve got Beth in your corner – she’s one heck of an ally!)

  35. TMC says:

    I would ask Mother Earth for forgiveness for anything I’ve done wrong and for the times I’ve been lazy and selfish.

    I’ve been wanting to try these soapnuts!

  36. Anonymous says:

    Dear Planet Earth,

    I really enjoy living on you. Please don’t wipe us out; we’re trying to mend our errors. I hope my personal efforts are a help.

    – Rachel

  37. j.c. says:

    Dear Mother Earth,

    I am sorry for the part I have had in hurting you. I am doing my best to live more lightly upon your surface even though sometimes it seems impossible. This past year has been an incredible journey and I am so happy to have become closer and more in tune to you. Thank you for all your gifts to us – I promise to use them wisely.


  38. Robin says:

    Dear Earth,
    Some people are trying, and some are not. I am doing my best to educate people to treat the earth better, and I am doing my best to try to make up for their failures.
    I just wish people would realize how important it is.

  39. Mich says:

    Dearest Mother,

    I would like to know if you can heal. So many of us see your pain, feel it with you, and are trying to ease it as best we can.
    Is it making enough of a difference?

    And Berry.. you CAN use soapnuts with cloth diapers!

  40. MaryLinda says:

    Wow, never heard of soapnuts before! I recently mixed up a bucket of laundry soap with Fels Naptha, borax and washing soda, but my sensitive son broke out in a rash from using it. :-( Wonder if soapnuts would have the same effect?

    Hmmm… Planet Earth am I doing enough to keep you healthy? Some do more, many do less, but where is the sustainable medium for you and me?

  41. Danielle says:

    I would thank Planet Earth for all that she has given me…because really, where would I be without her? I would also ask if I’m doing the right thing: I like to believe it all matters, but sometimes I could use a little support and encouragement.

    You may contact me at

  42. Sarah says:

    Dear Mother–

    I wanted to say thank you. I don’t take enough time out of my day to thank you, I really should. I should thank you not only for the beauty you have surrounded us with — the mountains I can see from my window, the smell of the rain or the snow, the beautiful way that the plants around me grow and support each other — but thank you for shining, and sharing. Thank you for sharing everything you have with us, for letting us explore you and learn from you, from giving us yourself to be fascinated with, to be in love with. Thank you for keeping mysteries and secrets from us, for making things interesting for us. Thank you for revealing yourself slowly, keeping the best part of you yet hidden for us to find. Thank you for supporting us, for letting us grow and change and live. And thank you for being patient with us, forgiving us as we try to sort our mistakes out and fix them as best we can.

    Know, Mother, that we have an innate love for you, we are terraphiles, each and everyone one of us at heart. Not one of us can watch your glorious sunrises, witness your magnificent forests and mountains and oceans without feeling that stirring that lets us know how deeply we love and care for you.

    Like any relationship Mother, we need to keep learning to undertand you, we need to learn to help and care for you, we need to learn from our past mistakes so that we can keep moving forward, and eventually we will be able to take care of each other the best that we can. You may not need us, Mother, but I like to think that you care for us as much as we care for you, I don’t think you want us to go, I think you just want us to stop hurting you.

    We want to, Mother, we do, we just need the time to learn how.


    I’m so excited at the prospects of this!

  43. Lisa says:

    Thanks, everyone, for sharing our excitement — about soapnuts AND our new packaging! To quickly address the “diaper” questions: soaputs are a GREAT choice for cloth diapers! More details available on our site) — but for more information, we’d like to point you to this hilarious review.

  44. cj15pisces says:

    Dear Earth,
    I’m so happy that you are taking care of us while we are here living on you. I’m sorry that we treat you so badly. My family is trying very hard to change our behavious so that we can show you LOVE!

    Thanks Beth for the post! I’ve been dying to try these. I too would like to know if they can be used on cloth diapers.


  45. Jenn ( says:

    Way too cool!! Aren’t you kind of in love with LaundryTree now? I sure am.


  46. Di Hickman says:

    Never heard of these before but would love to try them!
    I’d ask the Earth if what I was doing was making a difference. Sometimes I get discouraged, thinking I should/could be doing more.


  47. Deborah says:

    I have been wanting to try these, but decided to use Charlie’s Soap b/c it was recommended for cloth diapers and comes packaged in paper. (However it does have a little green plastic scoop). I want to try Soapnuts now! Hopefully they work well on diapers.

    Earth, I know you are listening. You’re always listening – and responding. Thank you for being so patient with us. Thank you for providing so much, even when we don’t always reciprocate. We are trying to be good stewards. I read more everyday about people finding their love for you again. I think it never left – they just forgot. We do that sometimes. We will work on the big corporations whose memories are harder to jog than ours. I have faith it will happen. In the meantime, keep spinning and doing your thing. I love you.

  48. Erika says:

    Soapnuts! You have got to be kidding me! I’ve never heard of those. Little things from trees that you put in laundry? That’s seriously amazing. Why have I never heard of them before? I would desperately love to try some.

    To Planet Earth I would say, thank you for the soapnuts. It seems like no matter how old I get, you never run out of these amazing little surprises!

  49. Ellen says:

    That is so cool! I have a hand crank washing doohickey, and I line dry, so this would be the icing on the proverbial cake! I’d ask the earth what ONE thing she wishes we could all do? What’s ONE thing that if every single person on earth did, it would make a difference?

    I’ll order some for sure if I don’t win. I love it so much!


  50. Anonymous says:

    nice! new paper packaging. Good job Beth! We’ve had them in Toronto a few years now, but I’ve yet to buy any since I it was expensive for a little pouch. Everyone here is more expensive in Canada. I read often, you’re my echolic idol.

  51. Mama Kelly says:

    Dear Earth

    Hi Mama, its been a while. I’m getting the feeling lately that you’re as depressed as I am what with all the dark expressions and tears.

    Please let me know what I can do to help you feel better.



    PS also please accept my entry for SoapNuts

  52. Jackie says:

    I use Charlie’s Soap right now and I’m pretty happy with it, but I certainly wouldn’t mind switching to something else with even less processing! BUT how do they work on diaper laundry? How do they work in high efficiency washing machines when they produce so many suds, which can be damaging for HE machines? It’s really cool that there’s an eco-conscious company out there making them available and I’m curious if they’ve looked in to using other naturally soapy botanicals, like soapwort! Perhaps they can add it to their selection of products, hm…

    Dear Earth,

    I was raised by a pair of original hippies, so I kind of rebelled against their earthy, nature-centric philosophy for most of my life- no patchouli for me! But I have my own daughter now and when I look at her I’m worried about what will be left of you for her. Will there still be sea turtles to see when we go to the beach, rare as they are now? Will she be stuck cleaning up our garbage or will we have figured out how to clean up our own mess by then? I sure hope so, for your sake and her generation’s future. I just don’t know what we’d do without you.


  53. Anonymous says:


    Hopefully we can heal together and survive the ignorance of my fellow creatures. I am working as one of a billion of my kind to ensure that if we end up killing ourselves, at least we don’t take you with us.

  54. John costigane says:

    Hi Beth,

    I so believe in consumer action. The truth is that we are the forefront of positive change. Well done for showing it can work.

    The ZeroWasteCheckOut over here is designed to focus consumer action and deal directly with business interests. Collaborations are the way forward for our Zero Waste trend.

  55. Barb in FL says:

    I would definitely ask if they were safe to use on pet bird covers! I’m all for using safer products in my house and am trying to use more earth-friendly products!!

  56. Bee says:

    I am already using soapnuts and am happy with the result! I first came across them in a new age shop where they were sold in little trial baggies. I have now found a supplier that uses brown paper bags for package. It is great you got this reaction to your email, Beth, getting the company to change from plastic bags to paper ones. I tried the same with a company that sells items from the “good old days”, shipping each in its own fat, sturdy plastic bag. Their reply was I was to simply put those bags in the garbage….

  57. Quiet Little Life says:

    Beloved Gaia:

    I’m grateful to have in you such a patient, gracious, and wise mother.

    Since I was a small child, I have felt your tenderness.

    I’ve climbed your tree branches to feel their wide embrace and the tender kiss of your breezes on my face. I’ve felt the reassuring steadiness of your seasons as they circle around me in beauty, year after year. I’ve known your constancy as I’ve rested on my back in your grassy fields, face skyward, sensing your calmness while all around me was changing like clouds scudding past overhead.

    I’m older now, though no less aware of the blessings you continue to give so freely.

    I only hope that I have learned your lessons well enough to live by your patient, gracious, and wise ways, caring for you in return as freely as you have cared for me.

    A Child of Earth

  58. Beany says:

    forgot email:

  59. Chiot's Run says:

    I’ve always wanted to try soap nuts, but I’ve been too chicken to spend the money since I’ve never known anyone that has used them.

    Thanks for letting us know they work. I’m always trying to find better products from smaller companies to replace the things in my home.

    I love that their packaging is now plastic free! I’ve been trying to get companies to do that as well recently.

  60. Jennifer says:

    Dear Earth,
    Would you please stop putting sharp grass seeds in my yard for my dogs to imbed in their paws, needing lots of medical attention? Because I would rather spend that money on sustainable things that can be reused.

    Dear Earth,
    I’m trying. Really! You caught me on a bad day. Really. The grass seeds are so annoying. Could you help me out with the whole native plant/xeriscaping thing? I think that would help BOTH of us out a lot. And then I could spend more time fixing up the old doors, reglazing the windows, and such… keeping it all out of the landfill.

    I would give these thingsa try.

  61. The Raven says:

    Dear Earth,

    As a pretty devout Jewish Atheist, I feel like I am cheating…on WHO/WHAT exactly?!…by writing to you. Do you feel as odd as I do about you being both a natural entity and a supernatural entity? Somehow this seems to be at the core of true worship and feels both uncomfortable and very authentic.

    Your disciple,
    The Raven

  62. Emily says:

    Dear Mother Earth,

    I know you’ll be fine long after we’re gone. I have seen flowers blooming in the cracks of sidewalks, and I know you’ll be all right. I have seen trees growing up out of gutters, roofs, old brick patios, and I know you’ll be okay. I have seen ants and mice move in to man-made homes, tornados strip away entire neighborhoods, and whole barrier islands shrug off the beach houses built on your shifting sand. I know you can take care of yourself.

    I just hope to enjoy your abundance while I’m here, and foster an even greater abundance for those who come after me. Mother Earth, you tell me. Is that right?


  63. Beany says:

    Dear Earth, Please don’t send the big earthquake while I’m in California. You can shake after I’m dead.

    Beth, count me in for the giveaway.

    Also…I’ve tried using it on my hair and it works wonderfully. Haven’t you tried it? I stopped because my source of soapnuts came in plastic. It shouldn’t be too hard since you use the bs/vinegar rinse.

  64. col1999 says:

    Dear Mother E,

    I just wanted to let you know that I’m trying. I’m not nearly perfect, but I am trying to get better with every choice I make. I’m having a hard time convincing my husband that my little choices do make some difference in a problem he doesn’t even think exists. Please don’t swallow him up — I’m still working on him.

    Thank you for spring! I’m enjoying hanging my clothes outside again.



  65. Laura says:

    I am delurking to put my name in the hat for some very cool sounding SoapNuts. :)

    Dear Earth,

    Mind if I call you Earthy? I have known you all my life, so I feel close to you in some ways. Other times I feel like you are a celebrity that I see on camping trips, at sunset or during a meteor shower but most of the time I am just going about my life and forget that you are there. That sounds awful! I’m sorry. But it’s kind of similar to my relationship with your cousin, Gravity or your friend Time. They are a part of my life but not always in the forefront of my mind.

    I have started paying much more attention to your presence in the past few years, though. And if you are willing, I would like to go to counciling a few times a week so that we can mold our relationship into something we both enjoy. Is that something that you would be up for?

    I offer my enthusiasm, my sense of humor and my willingness to try new things. If you could bring the seed potatoes, some strawberry plant starts and the red wiggler worms that would be wonderful. Lets just meet in the yard this summer and chat. I think it will be lovely. See you there.


    (And I love the idea of a bag for the winners and one to share with others.)

  66. Joules says:

    Whoa! This is the coolest laundry detergent ever!

    Dear Earth,

    I’m not sure why we have to make living so difficult. Here we are going through countless manufacturing processes just to clean our clothes, and it turns out that laundry soap grows on trees!

    There you sit shaking your head at all the trouble we go through when you provide us with everything we need; but like bratty teenagers, we think we have a better way…

    Maybe one day we’ll all grow into adults and will calm down enough to sit back and reminiscence with you about how ridiculous we *used* to be.

  67. The Green Cat says:


    I find it interesting that you say soapnuts won’t work in cold water. I mostly wash in cold water and I’ve been using soapnuts for months with no issues. I originally bought Maggie’s Soapnuts (and I was dismayed at all the plastic so I will be switching when I need to buy more!). The instructions with Maggie’s soapnuts say to use 2 nuts for warm/hot washes and 4 nuts for cold washes because the saponin releases more slowly in cold water. More info here:

    (oh and I’m not entering the giveaway because I already have a bunch of soapnuts and I’d rather they go to folks who are yet to be converted!)

  68. Amber says:

    This is not exactly, you know, profound. But I would say thanks, Earth for finally bringing spring around again. :)

  69. islandveggie says:

    Dear Earth,

    I apologize for the thick headedness of some my fellow people.

    Please know that as time passes more and more people will come to see the errors of their ways and join in the green revolution to help make you happy and pure again.

    Can you wait long enough for us or are we doing to much irreversable damage to save you, our beautiful planet Earth, or ourselves?

  70. Jessica Leo says:

    I would say…please don’t give up on us. We are not all hopeless. Despite a good majority of your inhabitants being ignorant and wasteful, there are some of us that try really hard in everything we do to keep you happy and not make you sad. I’m sorry we are so consumed with material belongings that we just keep industrializing to the point there are no trees, flowers, and animals left. I’m sorry some of us cannot be okay with the beauty that just “is”.

    My email is

  71. pigbook1 says:

    Dear Earth,

    I am trying. Adjusting my life to benefit you is harder than I thought, but I am doing my best. I hope it makes a difference!


  72. Meg says:

    Dear Mother Earth,

    Please forgive us!


  73. Justine says:

    Dear Mum,

    I’m writing to encourage you to have faith in us. Over the past few years, more and more of us are trying to patch up what we have ruined, one baby step at a time. Give it a bit of time, and I’m sure even the big corporate conglomerates will begin to see the error of their ways!

    Thanks Beth!

  74. Anonymous says:

    Hurr, I forgot to add my question.

    Earth-Mother, will you forgive us?

  75. Anonymous says:

    OH WOW. I have been interested in soapnuts for a while, so I’m glad someone I follow has an opinion on them!

    Dear Earth-Mom:

    I’m sorry for my fellow man. I’m sorry that everything we do hurts. I’m sorry that it’s so ridiculously hard to recycle some things, and I’m sorry that there are things that can’t be recycled at all. I’m sorry that people forget that the things we do don’t hurt just ourselves, but you.

    I am glad that growing up, I was told fantastic (in the truest sense of the word) tales of the people that came before us that knew how to treat you well, and I can only hope that someday we return to the same sentiments as we live our live.

    Even if those that persecute us Greenies, Eco-freaks, Hippies and pagans ignore your pain.

    WE most certainly won’t.

  76. Billie says:

    First I would ask you how much water you boil the nuts in. If I was to get my honey to use this (he does the laundry) I would definitely need to present this to him in liquid form.

    What do I want to know from Planet Earth? How to take care of her. Some of the information I read is seriously confusing and contradictory. Lead me in the right direction please!

  77. Radical Garbage Man says:

    Excellent timing — I’m about three or four loads away from being out of laundry detergent and I probably would have bought the non-environmentally friendly kind because the crappy store in my neighborhood doesn’t carry the hippy kind.

    You have saved me and the earth!

  78. Tracey says:

    Oh my goodness, that’s a great review! I have always wanted to try soapnuts, but we haven’t had our own washer and my laundromat frowns upon experimental detergents (not to mention I’d be afraid one of the nuts would get stuck somewhere and break the machine and I’d be in trouble!). I didn’t know you could boil them like that, PLUS now we do have our own machine and I can do my laundry however I want. I’d so love to try them! Thanks!

  79. Berry says:

    Oops. Looks like I should read the rules better…

    Dear Earth (I’ll call you Mother):

    We really ARE trying. I despair sometimes that there aren’t enough people who care, but then every day I read more and more about changes people are making. But is it enough?

    I’m sure YOU know, Mother, what we need to do in order to turn things around. I only hope we can figure it out and DO it, before it’s too late for us.

  80. Berry says:

    I would ask if soapnuts are safe/recommended for washing cloth diapers.

    I love this idea!


  81. Lisa Sharp says:

    I would ask the earth if I’m still on the right track, are there things I’m doing that are pointless? Things I’m over looking?

    I would also love to know for sure just how bad the earth is right now!

    So how are you feel earth???

    You have my e-mail but just in case-


  1. […] first read about these via Beth Terry.  She even got them to change the packaging so hers would have no plastic!  I ordered mine […]