What’s in your washing up?

The Hindu newspaper recently carried a write up on KRYA – an online shop of sustainable goodies. Founders, Preethi and Srinivas spent the first 15 years of their lives building and managing brands and then saw the light – deciding to “lead a life congruent with our passions and principles”. A visit to their website and I decided to give these guys a go.The comedian Bill Hicks said, “If you’re in advertising – go kill yourself. Seriously. There is no rationalisation for what you do, you are Satan’s little helpers, you are the ruiners of all things good.” So maybe Preethi and Srinivas of Krya don’t totally subscribe to Hicks’ views but they must have read his sentiment because the lives they lead and the products they make now are pretty much in contrast to what is currently in the Indian market and the products they used to help peddle.

KRYA sells two products on their site: washing powder for your dishes and washing powder for your clothes. They have ten products in total including a mosquito repellant and hair and body powders. I found only the washing powders for sale on their website. There’s a whole lot of other things in the pipeline as their insights on sustainable products and experiments with natural materials, documented on their BLOG, will tell you. A must read for anyone interested in the environment and lifestyle changes. Their info-graphics are good too. Their products are organic, use recyclable packaging, are cruelty and vegan free, good for you and the planet, non-toxic, biodegradable and proudly Indian (that last one, I am particularly pleased about).

KRYA Sustainable Goodies

KRYA Sustainable Goodies

So what’s wrong with your current detergent? Primarily most detergents contain by weight almost 50%  sodium triphosphate. “The discharge of soluble phosphates into natural waters has led to problems with eutrophication, or the growth of living things, of lakes and streams, often where it is not desirable. With an increase in phosphates, especially in the absence of species feeding upon algae, algal blooms grow splendidly on the excess phosphorus and can produce toxins, killing fish, dolphins and plants.” (Wikipedia) In 2004  the EU introduced regulations to ensure that detergents be biodegradable. Australia in 2011 has banned phosphates in detergents. The action by these bodies is impressive and heartening but phosphates are one of those silent killers that I fear will continue to do their nasty bidding unchecked.

With a desire to support start-ups and people who are doing good for the environment I bought the washing powder for clothes. It’s made of a plant called soapberries. It smells divine – like raspberries. They give you a little cloth bag in to which you put a tablespoon of the powder and put the bag in to the soap dispensing part of your machine. I just put it straight in with the clothes.

So this is not a marketing or advertising ploy of mine for them. I have tried their product and frankly I can’t say that I miss the commercially available toxic product I used to use. I’m still figuring out how to collect or re-direct the water coming out of the washing machine in to the garden to further save water. They also say that the use of their detergent is more economical:

We recommend that you use 10 gm of krya detergent for a full 5 kg washing machine load. This means that the 400 gm pack will give you 40 washes and at an MRP of Rs 290, the krya detergent cost per wash is Rs 7.25.  Common chemical detergents for washing machines cost around Rs 220 per kg. They recommend using 60 gm of their powder for a wash which gives them a cost per wash of Rs 13.2.”

From my experience of using it, I have had no problem with the product. The clothes do not come out with that reassuring smell of cleanliness that a toxic cleaner does but other than that I can see absolutely no difference from my other washing powder. The only difference is the satisfaction that, I and they, are doing our bit for the good for the planet.

Herein lies the problem. I reluctantly have to acknowledge the sense in what anti-climate change scientist, Richard Lindzen of MIT, who appeared on Al Jazeera’s Head to Head debate  says, which is that the little things we do in our homes to ‘save the planet’ like recycling, flying less, changing old light bulbs to LED, turning off the mains power switch etc in order to reduce our carbon footprint “are futile, feel good gestures” and don’t actually make an iota of difference to the warming of the planet.(around 23 mins in to the program)

Another guest on the show agrees with him saying that the real difference will be made by the factories, oil companies and manufacturers and we need “a much broader panoply of solutions” and lower costing ones. Our environmentally friendly and energy saving efforts (what AL Gore tells us we must do) are only measures to ease our personal guilt – it is not easing the burden on the planet, even if all 5 billion people on the planet change to LED bulbs.

Lindzen is particularly critical of the type of environmental movements that take advantage of this guilty sentiment in people and earn money from it – like check this box to reduce your carbon footprint on this leg of the journey. On this I agree with him. You can watch the debate below and decide for yourself, although i can’t say his detached delivery is very good for TV.

While i reluctantly have to agree with Lindzen, I will still do my bit for the environment although I know that in the larger scheme of things it makes no difference to the planet. But it makes a difference to me. It makes me feel more responsible. And like it or not (NOT!) I must admit it.

I am not a sceptic – in fact my mother in law and the DH have often told me that I’m an incorrigible optimist. So while I am all for making changes in how we live our lives like reducing food miles, composting garden waste, recycling, saving electricity, turning off the mains, saving water, using less plastics, I have to admit that this is for my own personal sense of responsibility against waste. My efforts alone or even that of my community will not change the world but it could make the community or just my family more responsible. I applaud the people at KRYA for their good work. I’m glad that two of Satan’s helpers have been saved. And I encourage you to support their efforts by shopping at their online store.

So don’t walk away from reading this thinking that you shouldn’t do your bit to reduce waste or that you shouldn’t teach your children to protect the environment. This of course means different things to different people – the children in urban India and the children living in the Nyamgiri hills experience their environment differently and only one of them is fighting to save theirs.

So perhaps I speak to those with the first world blues. You should do your bit… but don’t delude yourself as to why you are doing it. I admit that I am still deluding myself and the delusion is just too comforting to shake off for now.

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About nonsense girl

Galley slave, qualitative researcher working in development, married my best friend, writing about my life, my family, my dog, TV, Indian culture, astronomy and my garden. www.nonsensegirl.wordpress.com
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5 Responses to What’s in your washing up?

  1. sara says:

    hi gayu,

    I have been travelling and although Shikha alerted me to this, I only mananged to read it now. Just what I was looking for as we set up the water systems and waste disposal in our new house.
    I agree with you that our little bit seems of little use, but we need to be the change we want to see NO? Thanks for the timely information.
    I grew up washing my hair with Shikhakai. In Kerala we used ‘ thali’ for washing our hair and this was boiled pepper vine. Amma used to wash her silk saris with soapkai. In fact we had a tree on our ground in the campus, but I did not get any fruit from it.I wonder if I could plant a couple of trees.
    On another note I will be going to BC in a couple of days and hope to be there for a fortnight. Why don’t you both plan a trip to visit?

    sara

  2. Deepa says:

    Am so glad you found this Gayu. Am going to order it straightaway. Perhaps it is my convent school upbringing – “Little drops of water…………….” but I still believe every little bit helps! Here’s to optimism

  3. Shyla says:

    This must be ‘soap kaaye’ we used to use on our hair( us rural folks from deepest, darkest Kerela!). I agree with you Gayu, if we all felt out little contribution didn’t matter, then there’s no hope. Plus if it makes me feel happy, why not? Lots of food for thought. Well done to Krya.

  4. tara says:

    soapberries???

    • yes soapberries. This is from their website: Soapberries are native to parts of Asia and India.
      Native to the Americas is the Yucca tree whose roots contains saponins, and therefore can be used as a natural detergent. Soapwort or Saponaria is a plant native to parts of Europe, which is another natural detergent.

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