The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

June 25, 2008

Dear Citra Solv…

June 13, 2008

Citra Solv, LLC
PO Box 2597
Danbury, CT 06813-2597

Dear Steve & Melissa,

I purchased a box of CitraSuds natural laundry detergent today at the Ecology Center in Berkeley, CA. I am always on the lookout for environmentally safe products and was happy to learn that your laundry powder is biodegradable and contains no chlorine bleach or synthetic perfumes or dyes. I was also happy to read on the box that the package is made from 100% recycled paper.

However, after opening the box, I was disappointed to find a plastic measuring scoop. While I realize the scoop may be made out of recycled plastic, the fact is that it is not biodegradable and cannot be further recycled — not where I live anyway. Therefore, I am returning the scoop to you in the hopes that you can find a use for it. I don’t need it, and most of the people I know do not need a brand new scoop each time we buy a box of detergent.

There is another brand of laundry soap, Ecover, which includes a biodegradable cardboard scoop made out of recycled paper. This seems to be a better alternative to me, since the scoop can be recycled or composted at the end of its life. My usual store was sold out of Ecover this week, which is why I tried the CitraSuds instead. But I don’t think I will purchase another box of CitraSuds as long as I know there will be a plastic scoop inside.

I appreciate all that you are doing for the environment and hope that you will choose to go even further by either eliminating the scoop entirely or opting for a biodegradable recycled paper scoop, like Ecover has.


Beth Terry

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Cousin Yellowstone
15 years ago

Thank you for posting a copy of your letter. I find letters like yours very helpful to use as guides when I compose my own letters.

I found your blog entry while looking for information on eco-friendly laundry powders. I’ve been trying to find a new laundry detergent for some time now, because I want to avoid the thick plastic jugs my previous brand comes in. However, my quest for a new laundry detergent hasn’t been going well.

Most recently, I bought a box of Ecopath. What drew me to it was the ingredient list. The main ingredient is saponified babacu coconut oil, and the box says that the coconuts are harvested from the jungle where they grow wild. Given that most of the powders I’d looked at before contained palm oil produced on clearcut forest land, the Ecopath powder sounded really good. Another plus was that it came in a cardboard box so I thought I was avoiding plastic.

Unfortunately, when I opened the cardboard box, I found that within it the laundry powder is encased within a plastic bag. My first impulse was to write to the manufacturer and suggest eliminating the plastic bag, but I realize that that would require adding a lot more glue to the box so that the powder wouldn’t leak out, and I don’t have much sense of what the environmental impact of the glue would be and how it compares to that of a thin plastic bag. Do you have any information on this?

15 years ago

While googling on laundry detergent, I also found a recipe for dishwasher detergent — one part borax to one part washing soda.

15 years ago

Have you ever thought of using laundry soap instead of detergent?

You can use Fels Naptha or Octagon soap; my local Food Lion sells Octagon soap for $.79 per bar. You might have to hunt for bars of laundry soap; the other two chains in my area don’t carry it.

Basically, to make laundry liquid out of the bar of soap, you grate the soap in a pot or bowl, pour hot water over the grated soap, and let it sit overnight; the next day, pour more hot water (it can be hot tap water, not boiling) over the now-soft soap and stir well. I used to make this up in a five-gallon bucket, so one bar of soap goes a long way.

Googling on the subject just now, I find there are recipes where you add Borax and/or washing soda to this mix. I may have to try that, just to see if I can tell the difference.

15 years ago

Hi Beth

Thanks so much for submitting this letter and the other ones to the new Carnival of Trash. I’m very excited because the first edition has been published today and can be found at:

These letters highlight the madness that exists out there. Thank you.

15 years ago

The reason that the scoops are included are so that uptight greenies get offended by soap and detergent companies and stop washing, reinforcing the dirty hippie image…wait, I slighly resemble that…

Seriously, I grew up with a Pyrex measuring cup on Mom’s laundry shelf.
Once I moved out and started contributing to the Quarter Economy (TM) at the laundromat I had an old sandwich box that held four washes worth of powder, and I eyeballed that.
Now I have a refillable jug for liquid detergent. the lid has markings, that I occasionally remark with a marker so I can actuallu see them, for various sized loads. Since buying the original jug (199-something), the appliance techs have developed HE front load washers, so I have new marks for that.
Should I ever go back to powder (I have used it, but made a solution so that the poweder dissolved in the machines) I will pick up an extra pyrex cup from the thrift.

15 years ago

I wrote an email to Charlie’s Soap about the plastic scoop also. They said that they were choosing to include the scoop because of retail outlets. I think I’ll email them again with that great cardboard scoop/leave it out anyway suggestion.

And in reply to the #1 plastic being accepted – in my locality, #1 and #2 plastics are only accepted if they have a “neck” (top is narrower than the bottom) which really irks me.

15 years ago

The plastic scoop in the Citra Suds Powder laundry detergent box is made from PET #1 plastic and should be accepted at your local recycling center were they also accept soda bottles made from the same plastic.

15 years ago

You know all they have to do is say, “add 1/2 cup for light loads, 1 cup for heavier loads” or something like that. We all have measuring cups, right? Or some type of cup you can estimate with.

I can say, because of you I am slowly getting plastic out of my life. Thank You.

Gruppie Girl
15 years ago

Good for you for taking the initiative to send the plastic scoop back.

You mentioned Ecover in your letter. I purchased a box of Ecover dishwashing tablets only to find that while the package is cardboard, each packet is wrapped in plastic. Do you have any suggestions?

FYI Tom’s of Maine wraps their soap in biodegradable plastic that I toss into the compost bin. I wonder if this would be a viable alternative for Ecover too?

15 years ago

BTW, I seem to have problems viewing your blog on Mozilla (I’m using a Mac PowerBook running Mozilla).

I have no problems reading it through Google Reader, but when I try to go to the Blog itself to post a comment, I have to switch browsers (to Safari, which works fine) in order to view your posts on your Blog.

I don’t have this problem with other blogs I read, so it seems to be just yours. Maybe the layout? I’m getting the title bar and ads on the left side, and the navy blue Blogger bar at the top (that it puts on all Blogger blogs), and then just an empty window where your posts should be.

15 years ago


Kudos for having a growl at them. Those pissy little scoops really annoy me!

I buy Next Generation (New Zealand made and owned – where I live) washing powder. It contains, as you say, a foldy paper scoop, which I toss and re-use my From The Ages Of Olde Plastic Scoop that I got from somewhere/sometime.

I really think there’s no need to include any scoop at all. I mean, most people have scoops lying around. Or am I some weirdo scoop hoarder? Because I seem to have more than enough!

Anyway, good point, and well done for the letter.

15 years ago

I just love your letters. YOu are a hero.

I am curious, could you do a round up of any letters you have written that have been responded to with any direct action?

15 years ago

I recently bought a package of soap nuts and much to my chagrin there they were all wrap in a plastic bag inside the box- I got on thewebsite to find a e-mail address to express my dismay and there I found it- the reason they put it in a plastic bag with a silica packet- so they don’t dry out. made total sense after I found out- didn’t need to write. But a plastic scoop in an all natural laundry detergent? that’s just crazy!

15 years ago

I burst out laughing when I found out that there was a plastic scoop in that box of environmentally correct soap and I’m still laughing because it’s such a funny example of human beings screwing up. If all clothes washing soap mfr’s stopped providing measuring cups, do you suppose the public wouldn’t know what to do except to stop washing their clothes altogether, so they’d have to always be buying new clothes, thereby boosting the economy of the fashion world?

15 years ago

The Whole Foods 365 brand of citrus laundry soap now comes in a plastic bag instead of a cardboard box. It had a plastic cup inside the paper box. I really like the product and don’t know why they switched.