~ Part I: Remembering ~
Recently, a friend S was visiting her grandmother in the countryside after many long years. One day as Grandma and S sat in the courtyard exchanging news, a couple of women walked in carrying a huge drum of something that S thought looked very familiar.
“Gran, what are those? I remember seeing them…. uhmmm.... didn’t Mummy wash our clothes with them when we were really small?”
“You are right beta. They are reetha or soapnuts.”
“Granny, you still use them to wash clothes…. ! I mean I did see some modern-day detergent packets in the shop down the street!”
“You are right beta. When these detergents came, we did switch to them for a while. But now we are back to using reetha.”
S looked puzzled, why would anyone want to not use readily available detergents that are so convenient, she thought. Grandma, as though reading S’s thoughts continued.
“Beta, a few years ago a gentleman from the city had come to meet your Grandfather. He was especially impressed by your Grandfather’s tree plantation initiative. The gentleman told us many things about conserving the environment that we didn’t know. He also told us about the far-reaching environmental impact of detergents – how detergent wastes destroy underwater ecosystems and disrupt the hormonal levels in humans and animals, how detergent manufacture release cancer-causing toxins, how detergent fragrances pose serious problems for people suffering from asthma and heart problems, how the chemical residues from detergents left behind on the clothes can enter the human body through the skin and lungs and cause allergies…. and besides beta, the detergents are available in plastic that choke the Earth. Your Grandfather was convinced; in fact, he has convinced many other households in the village to go back to using reetha to wash clothes.”
Grandmother had perhaps noticed the look of bewilderment on S’s face and so added, “The gentleman also told us that if anybody needs more information, they would just need to search the computer.”
“Computer? Oh Granny! You mean the Internet?”
“No idea what the Internet is beta”, Granny replied with a twinkle in her eye as she rose to join the reetha-bearing women at the other side of the courtyard.
Do you remember the reetha from your younger days, as well? Are you trying to remember the time in the 80s and 90s when economic liberalization began in India, we were flooded with choices for “convenient” detergents, and we lost our reetha to convenience? Are you wondering whether we did right? Do you wish to gather evidence on the far-reaching environmental impact of chemical detergents? Do you wish to check out environmental-friendly alternatives? If the answer to all these question is “yes”, then do read on.
~ Part II: Research ~
Nature’s Own Detergent: The Soapnut
S did not forget the conversation with her Grandmother; after she returned to the city, she searched extensively for information on the toxic effects of modern-day detergents. She found supporting evidence for all of the “gentleman’s” claims. Here are some online texts that S read:
Detergents threaten India’s water bodies: This article in the Down to Earth, India Environment Portal informs about phosphates contained in detergents, in what ways phosphates impact water bodies, and a detergent-related case study that led to an important legislation in favor of the environment in Canada.
Detergents under scrutiny: This article from India Together, among other things, is important for its notes on the toxic effects of detergents on human health.
Sustainable Baby Steps: This website on soapnuts lists its myriad use and benefits (did you know that the soapnut can be used to shampoo your pet animals?)
Aakanksha's blog: “Experimenting with Soapnuts” is an information-packed post by Aakanksha, a vegan from Pune, who chronicles her “discovery” of soapnuts as a detergent and among other things, helps clear some myths around soapnut use. You can also find the recipe for liquid soapnut detergent here.
Indian soap nut makes an eco-friendly alternative to chemical detergents in Germany: This article in The Economic Times is testimony of the growing popularity of the Indian soapnut in a country such as Germany where people are more conscious about living in harmony with Nature.
Krya blog: “Soapberries : The eco-friendly cleaning solution” from the Krya blog makes very informative reading. In fact, the opening lines, “If you think that detergents are found only on supermarket shelves, then be prepared for a clean, green surprise. It grows on trees….” is enough of a hook to get you to read the entire article. The article has a surprise in the end. It mentions Srinivas as the writer of the article and introduces him as the CEO & Co-Founder of “Krya Consumer Products”.
That sounded like a “company” to our good friend S and she wondered whether it was into manufacturing that involved reetha. Well, what she found, that includes after using one Krya product, comprises the third part of this story.
~ Part III: Revelation ~
‘Krya’ Consumer Products
“Ideas can be life-changing. Sometimes all you need to open the door is just one more good idea.” ~Jim Rohn, American entrepreneur, author, and motivational speaker~
S wishes us to state upfront that Krya manufactures plant-based cleaning solutions, prepared without the use of chemicals additives and without testing on sentient animals.
The people: The portfolio of people behind Krya Consumer Products is very, very impressive. Krya meaning “mindful action” is conceptualized and created by Srinivas and Preethi, both graduates from IIM; Bangalore and Calcutta, respectively. Now, that is what our society needs management grads. from premier B-school institutions to be doing – innovating for sustainability, our friend S thought.
|Photograph courtesy: Krya|
Product description: The Krya Pure Natural Detergent, made from certified organic reetha and mined calcium carbonate (not extracted from marine organisms) in the 97% – 3% ratio, respectively, is the company’s first product. This means the detergent does not include the following: fillers, phosphates, bleaches, enzymes, builders, and artificial fragrance and colours. (Remember Granny’s description of the havoc caused to the environment and the dangers to human health brought about by chemicals in detergents.)
The detergent works in both front and top loading machines and can be used to do the good old wash by hand as well. It cleans just as well as any other chemical detergent besides being gentle on the fabric and color, and leaves behind a beautiful earthy Mother-Nature-like smell on the clothes.
Benefits: The detergent is biodegradable and saves water while washing because you do not need lots of it, which you would otherwise need, to eliminate the chemical residues from a chemically treated detergent. According to estimates, the detergent saves between 50-150 liters of water per wash. Now, if you care about conserving the Earth and look for ways to reduce your carbon footprint, then this is definitely the detergent to check out, our friend S thought. It is a safe way of washing clothes as well as it is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal in nature. And wait, according to experts in rainwater harvesting, the wash water from the Krya Pure Natural Detergent can be directly used to water your plants or directed into the rain water harvesting channel!
Respect for animals: Now this one impressed our friend S beyond measure as she is a big stickler for products that have not been tested on sentient animals. The Krya detergent pack carries the declaration “We love animals and do not test on them. All Krya products are Vegan. They do not contain any animal derived ingredients.” Yet another great way to reduce your carbon footprint!
Cool order system: Our friend S discovered that the Company ships the detergents for free, anywhere in India for which one needs to place the order at the Krya website at www.krya.in! And if you encounter issues while placing the order, Preethi is there to help you troubleshoot; you can simply drop her a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. What ’s more, the delivery seems to happen by super fast(est) mail system!
And, you can click this link for some customer reviews of Krya detergent.
Prelude.... seeing with a new lens
“Granny, I found Krya....”, S began as she excitedly told Grandma in detail about her discovery over the phone one day.
“Bless you beta, now you know that soap indeed grows on trees,” remarked Granny with fondness in her voice.