One of the things I knew would be tricky when avoiding supermarkets is buying cleaning products. I know I could just go to a local ‘corner shop’ and pay a bit more for the same brands I would get in the supermarket, but somehow that feels like cheating – not really in the spirit of what I’m trying to achieve – particularly the bit about trying to buy organic and fair trade where possible.
Fortunately the lovely people at the Xarxa Consum Solidari / Red Consumo Solidario came to my rescue. The Xarxa/Red is a network of organisations supporting fair trading practices and responsible consumption – they source locally where possible (the fruit juice and veggies might be from down the road, but the coffee and rum may have travelled a bit) and all products are fair trade or have a fair trade element as well as being organic where relevant. Transparency is a big deal with them, and on their site you can download a dossier on each product detailing all the cost elements including transport, packaging, the margin taken by the shop etc.
Xarxa Consum Solidari have a number of shops in Barcelona and you can find out more about them here
Anyway, the point is that they stock the Lympha range of products which comprises laundry detergent, washing-up (dishes) liquid, spray cleaner for surfaces, floor cleaner and liquid hand soap.
Lympha is the result of a collaboration between an Italian Fair Trade collective (Mondo Solidale) and a Brazilian NGO Assema (site in Portuguese). Assema works with small local producers to provide an alternative to the huge industrial palm oil factory-farms which are contributing massively to deforestation, and fights for the rights of the indigenous coco palm nut pickers. You can find out more about this issue here and here
As well as the natural surfactants produced from this organic, fairly traded coco palm oil, the other ingredients in all Lympha products are fair trade and organic where possible; for example the essential oils used as antiseptics and scents are supplied by an NGO in Southern India ‘Sipa’.
On both the Lympha website and the packaging of the products there is not only a list of ingredients but a description of what each ingredient is, what it does, why it is included, how it biodegrades and how it was sourced; something I find fascinating if only because it simply never crossed my mind to ask the question before.
So far I have tested the laundry detergent and the washing-up liquid:
The washing-up liquid is very gently lemon-scented and quite runny even though it is supposedly a concentrate. Already I prefer it to the neon green, gloopy, chemically smelling stuff that comes from the supermarket and it seems to be doing the job.
The laundry detergent is *very* concentrate. Because they recommend around 80ml for an average wash – about half the amount of the previous liquid I was using – I was a bit suspicious that it wouldn’t be enough. The liquid is very mildly scented with lavender which I don’t find too offensive. Even better, when the laundry emerges from the machine it doesn’t smell of some marketing focus-group’s idea of clean laundry mixed up in a test-tube somewhere outside Dusseldorf; it smells…well….clean! I didn’t even notice a lavender smell on individual garments, although on passing the drying rack I did notice that when hung out all together the clothes did exude a very faint and not unpleasant lavendery scent.
Most importantly however: IT WORKS!!
Crucially for my lifestyle, it passed not only the red wine test, but the ‘eating Ben & Jerry’s choclate ice cream in bed’ test as well. Genius!
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