Naked Soap: Save Money, Save Our Environment

We are gradually introducing “naked” options to our individual soap bars so you can now purchase them without any packaging material whatsoever, and you get to save RM1 per bar. Our DreamTime and Tangy Lavender bars now have this option, since these two batches are just off the curing racks as of today.

Why are we doing this?

We agree that product packaging is important. It serves several functions: to protect the product from the elements and spoilage, to make it look presentable and desirable, to impart information to the user. However I believe that certain developments in technology and how we go about our daily lives has changed drastically ever since mass-consumer product packaging was introduced in the industrial era, and it does influence how products can be presented in this day and age.

For instance, one day while I was driving my two older children to school, Brandon (our eldest) remarked, “I don’t like seeing all these stickers all over the lamp posts and signboards. They make me feel uncomfortable.” They advertise all kinds of things, from plumbing services to personal loans, and are plastered all over any available surface in public areas in our neighbourhood, similar to this:

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I explained that some businesses find that to be a good way to advertise their services, along with their contact details. I asked him what he thought would be a better way to go about it.

“They should put their businesses and phone numbers on Facebook.”

Now this is coming from an 8-year-old who only sees me using Facebook. He doesn’t know how to get online, let alone have his own FB account–but he has somehow understood that the internet is a pretty good place to find useful information.

By inference: the product label isn’t the only place to get information about it.

As for making a product even more desirable through pretty packaging, I have conceded that packaging design isn’t really my forté, much as I adore beautiful things. :”) Just look at the myriad of wonderful, irresistible options available from retailers such as L’Occitane, The Body Shop, and Aesop. I occasionally wander into those stores to marvel at the clever packaging designs, the immaculately presented gift baskets, and the gorgeous materials used to dress up products to make them look fabulous. There is NO way I can drum up the same kind of panache for Kinder Soaps’ own packaging. The other issue I have trouble with is the sheer amount of waste generated from product packaging, which performs its task just once, and is destined for a landfill the moment the product is unwrapped.

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So instead of agonizing over how to pretty up our packaging design, I have discovered that I’m quite happy to offer our soap completely bare for our regular customers who just need something to cleanse their skin. Soap bars are a product that you can use up completely and also leave nothing to toss into a landfill. They are relatively easy to transport, even in bulk. We will still offer properly wrapped soap for sale, of course, but they will still be packaged in a more utilitarian manner compared to most other brands.

What I feel to be the most important function of packaging, however, is to protect the product from the elements, and from spoilage. I truly wish there were an all-natural alternative to plastic shrink wrapping which does this job the best, but there isn’t any at the moment. Our beeswax cloth wraps do a fair job of keeping the soap bars from coming into contact with dust and the accidental splash of liquid, but they too have limited shelf lives. Malaysia’s warm, humid climate makes it even trickier to store our unwrapped soap in a way that prolongs its shelf life.

Must we really resort to single-use packaging as the only means of presenting, and protecting our products?

I strongly believe that this need not be the case, if we are willing to make some simple, minor adjustments to our own purchasing habits.

There is a lot of good advice out there about how to reduce our dependence on product packaging (and throwaway items in general), but I would like to draw your attention to some tips that are specifically meant for how to make the best of Naked soaps (regardless of who made them):

  1. Buy what you need, when you need it. Stocking up on perishables is usually not a good idea.
  2. Store your soap in a cool, dry and dark place, away from direct sunlight.
  3. Yes, you can keep soap in the fridge. I can’t say what will happen to its scent though–whether it will make your vegetables smell or taste like essential oils, or if the soap bars will absorb the scents of your fridge’s other occupants.

Now here is what we at Kinder Soaps are committed to do to help you in producing less household waste through product packaging:

  1. Our shop and studio have much better storage conditions than the average Malaysian home (we run our air conditioners at least 3 hours a day to help keep the air cool and dry). Let us take care of the safe storage of perishable soap bars, and make sure that you are sent the freshest batches of soap each time you make a purchase.
  2. I know that some of you do bulk purchases sometimes because there have been occasions where we run out of stock of soap that you really like (and need!). :”) That’s a shortcoming on my part, I’m sorry, as I’m still personally making all our products by hand. I will do my best to schedule my soapmaking to match the rate of purchases better.
  3. We will NEVER try to coerce you into buying something you don’t need. All we will do is to offer you enough information to help you make a purchasing decision that you will be happy with.

I know this is a bit of a ramble-y post, but I needed to address this issue of throwaway packaging that has been bothering me for a long time. I hope you’ll take advantage of the naked soap options and do your bit to reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfills. Feel free to comment below if you have any thoughts about this matter.

Have a lovely week ahead!

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