Why I’m breaking up with my laundry detergent

Disclaimer: I was sent That Red House Soapberries to try in exchange for my honest and genuine review. This post was not sponsored in any other way.

It’s time for Science Hour on Ferdydurking Blog!

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Meet Soapberries, the dried shell of fruit of the Sapindus Mukorossi tree. These shells are a very dense source of ‘saponin’ aka nature’s soap. Saponin reduces the surface tension of water, allowing dirt to be easily washed away in the same fashion as your normal household washing liquids.


Odd looking fellows, aren’t they?

Apparently soapberries are a natural alternative to traditional laundry detergent and fabric softener. They are anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, hypo-allergenic, chemical free, grey water safe, organic, compostable, and 100% sustainable *wipes sweat from brow*

Full disclosure, I was very suspicious about anything with a list of benefits that long, and I was ready and waiting to be proven correct.  Why would anyone use a standard laundry detergent when these bad boys are available? But I have seen soapberries pop up now and again on the plastic-free instagrams, so when That Red House slid into my DMs and asked if I would be interested in trying them out, I was game to give them a go.


Straight out of the post, I was pretty impressed with the packaging. Everything is very clearly explained on the bag, and I can definitely find a dozen ways to reuse it when the berries are gone (it’s a really lovely fabric). When I picked up the bag and felt it crinkle in my hand, I braced myself to have a discussion on plastic packaging around eco-products. But check this out-


A paper bag! And how pretty does it look?

That Red House, I’m sorry I ever doubted you. Of course you wouldn’t hide some plastic behind that nice eco-friendly bag.


According to the instructions, you put a handful of the dried berries into the included smaller bag, tie it off, and forget about it (no need to take it out before the rinse cycle).

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The berries smell a little odd but it’s not offensive. They seem harmless, but I was still dubious. You want me to what with these? Without adding any real detergent? Are you sure this is going to work?

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Colour me sideways guys, but they actually do work.

I’ve done a fair few loads of washing and the level of clean is exactly the same as I would have expected from washing powder. After some intense close-quarters sniffing of my clean laundry, I can also confirm that the odd smell doesn’t transfer. In fact, the strangest thing about washing with soapberries is that there isn’t really a smell at all – I didn’t realise how accustomed I was to scented laundry until the scent wasn’t there.

If you do like your clothing to smell like something more than just clean, you can apparently add a few drops of essential oils to the berries (which you can also grab through their website).

Lack of laundry fragrance aside, I wouldn’t be able to pick the difference between soapberries and a standard detergent in a blind test. Each handful of berries can be used for around five washes (I’ve just been leaving the lid on my washing machine up after the load to let them dry out), and once they’re used up you can throw them on the compost. According to the gang at That Red House, if you buy a 1kg bag of the berries, you’re paying approx 10c a wash (1/3 the price-per-wash of a commercial detergent), so on top of saving the world, you’re also slashing those laundry costs!


Apparently the berries can also be boiled down for other uses- a good friend of mine is allergic to a lot of shampoos, so I’m going to pass some on to her to experiment with.

In conclusion? I’m a convert– I honestly think I’ll be using these forever now. In fact, it blows my mind that they’re not more widely available. Too many jaded old cynics like me in the world?

Have you tried using soapberries before? Would you consider it? Leave a comment and let me know!


Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to subscribe for updates, and if you want to see more of me, come say hello on my Instagram or Twitter, I would love to see you there!



Why I’m breaking up with my laundry detergent

What’s your Zero Waste ‘Free Pass’?

Alright guys, this is an honesty post


This year I’ve been working really hard to decrease my environmental impact.

You can see some of the changes I’ve been making with my earlier posts 5 Easy Switches to Change the World and  5 MORE Easy Switches to Save the World! (give the girl a naming prize) , and these swaps have made a huge difference to the amount of waste I’m making in my daily life. As warm and fuzzy as this makes me feel, there are still a few regular suspects that I haven’t been able to quite cull from my rubbish. As much as I would like to deny their existence, in the interests of accurately recording my journey to a low-waste life, here they are.

Frozen Berries

I love berries, and possibly even more so, I love how convenient frozen berries are. I fold them through yoghurt, toss them over pancakes, and blitz them into smoothies. Not only are frozen berries crazy cheaper, I don’t have to worry about them turning into little fuzzy piles of mould by the end of the week. If I don’t eat them, they stay frozen! Frozen berries do tend to be more irregular in size, which could mean that I’m saving berries that didn’t make the cut to sell fresh. Or is that just me thinking optimististically?

How I’m dealing with the waste: Rinsing the bag & returning it to the supermarket to be recycled into park furniture

Dental Hygiene

Floss. Toothpaste. Two things I’m just not quite ready to give up -partly because I’ve tasted the Lush Toothy Tabs and they taste doggone-awful. Partly because I don’t 100% trust alternative methods, teeth are a once-on-a-lifetime thing, and dentists in Australia are expensive.

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How I’m dealing with the waste: Not well. The cardboard back of the floss packed gets separated and recycled, the rest goes to landfill

Beauty regime

I know. Trust the wannabee actress to refuse to cull her beauty regime. I do have trouble skin- I don’t experience breakouts,  but it dries easily (as a kid it used to crack & bleed in the really bad patches). I’ve tried replacing some of my products with natural alternatives, but so far nothing has been able to float my boat, either because it doesn’t do a satisfactory job, or it makes my skin unhappy.

How I’m dealing with the waste: I’ve managed to move a lot of my products to brands that are packaged in glass & sold in cardboard. I’m also starting to become a lot more conscious about where my products come from, and what nasties they contain.

Convenience food

I’m using this as a blanket cover for all of those things that I probably could make at home, but don’t. Hummous. Yoghurt. Pasta. Milk (anyone want to give me the space to house a cow?). Griffins gingernuts. (Yes, gingernuts. They’re a non-negotiable in my diet.) A lot of zero-wasters make most of these products at home, but time-poor me has struggled to have any success. While I try to keep as much plastic out of my shopping trolley as possible, it’s highly likely that one of these sneaks in every week.

How I’m dealing with the waste: I try to be as conscious as I can with any of these guys that I purchase. I go for the biggest size I can, and recycle the packaging once it’s gone. While that may sound like a lot, my little recycling bag goes into the apartment rubbish bin about once a month -if you picture a wheelie bin, I reckon I would fill one in about six months? I’m still working to bring my total recyclables down, but I’m happy with this as a starting point.

Ordering online

I love getting mail. Loooooovvveeee it.

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And at the same time, there are a lot of days when I really don’t want to be leaving the house.  Fortunately there is a magical portal that allows me to fulfill all of my needs from home, receive presents from me to me and have access to unlimited nerdery!

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The downside of this wonderful place is that most of those items come tucked into layers of wrapping and plastic. While I can try to reuse as much as I can and take all of the soft plastics to the supermarket for recycling, mailer packages definitely make up the majority of my waste. It ain’t pretty folks.

How I’m dealing with the waste: This is definitely a case of reduce, reuse, recycle. I’ve managed to tamp down on the impulse nerd-purchasing that has historically been my weakness, and while I’m in the process of culling my wardrobe, clothing shopping has been cut right back down as well. If I look at my packages for the last few months, two were from brands that want to work with me on my insta, and one was a glass protein shaker that isn’t available in stores. Probably a low number for some people, but those bright yellow bags in the trash still bug me.

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What are your weaknesses? Do you have some things in your lifestyle that you’ve given yourself a ‘free pass’ on? Let me know!

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to subscribe for updates, and if you want to see more of me, come say hello on my Instagram or Twitter, I would love to see you there!


What’s your Zero Waste ‘Free Pass’?

Who gives a crap?

There are some things that it’s probably better not to skip on in life. Dental hygiene is definitely one, delicious treats are absolutely another.

Toilet paper also falls into this category, which is why I was so pleased to come on board when Who Gives A Crap reached out to me regarding their latest limited release. I’ve ordered their loo rolls before, and I was already a huge fan of their company ethos. 

The founders started Who Gives A Crap after learning that 2.4 billion people across the world don’t have access to a toilet. That’s roughly 40% of the global population and means that diarrhoea related diseases kill 900 children under five every day- pretty sobering statistics.

Who Gives A Crap have donated almost $500,000 to help fund hygiene and sanitation projects so far, and they’re hoping to turn that figure into $1 million by the end of this limited release. That’s a pretty ambitious goal, which is where WE- the users of toilet paper- come in. After all, everyone needs to poop! And since we do have to do it, you may as well save the world at the same time. It’s consistent small choices being made by a large group of people that will add up to an overwhelming effect.

WGAC aren’t just about saving the world through donations- their toilet paper is made from 100% recycled paper, and in my experience is delivered almost completely plastic free (the sticky tape on the box is literally the only exception). And look how fun the wrapping is! Seriously, I was giggling way too much as I stacked my poetic toilet paper in the bathroom.

I swear this one was a lucky co-incidence.

This all sounds pretty tempting to you, so Aussies can head HERE to start that loo paper on it’s way to you. You’ll even get $10 off your first subscription box if you follow my link! I’m afraid the rest of the world is being denied the poetic rolls at the moment, but those in the US or UK can still get their hands on the original fun prints. The biggest trouble you’re going to have is finding a place to stack it all!

Who gives a crap?

 5 MORE Easy Switches to Save the World!

One of my first ever ferdydurking posts (SO long ago), was on 5 Easy Switches to Change the World. For the past year or so I’ve been working towards living in a more sustainable, environmentally friendly way. It’s a lifestyle that I had started to see around instagram (because minimalism is so photogenic guys) but it wasn’t something that really stuck with me until I scrolled past a comment that hit me like a stone- Every piece of plastic ever made still exists. 

The headline may be sensationalist and there are definitely people who dispute the severity of the situation, but isn’t that still a terrifying thought? Every plastic cup, every lost comb, every ridiculous Happy Meal toy, just piling up in a corner somewhere like the opening scenes from Wall-E.

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And that’s not even considering the amount of finite resources that are burned through to make all of that single-use junk.

Like a lot of the scary things in life, it wasn’t something that I had even stopped to consider consider before but it’s quickly become something that hangs out at the back of my mind, waiting to give me an annoying poke every time I reach for a bit of non-essential plastic (amazing slushy drinks with those jelly bits in it, I’m looking at you).

My last post on the topic was the first five changes I made to try and reduce my impact- the lowest hanging fruit, if you will. Tiny swaps that I introduced one-by-one and don’t even think about anymore!

If you feel like you’ve already mastered all of those (and I would love to hear if anyone actually did try any of the swaps), here’s the next five things that I changed as I try to shrink my junk-pile for good!

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  1. Disposable Razors

Straight in with the fun swaps. Lady razors are a pink, strawberry scented, plastic carnival of waste (is that too over the top?). No surprises if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, but I also regularly opted for the big multi-packs of single use razors, because this gal ain’t gonna drop $20 on a razor just for a couple of weeks of silky smooth legs. Think of all the coffee that could buy!


Swapping to a Safety Razor means that all I have to worry about now is changing out the blade itself, and those chunky plastic handles are a thing of the past. Other fun advantages include a better shave (this one took me by surprise- how can less blades = a better shave?) and feeling a little bit badass every time I pick it up.

2. Shampoo

It’s a safe bet that any time you pick up a bottle of beauty product, one of the first ingredients is going to be water (or acqua, if they’re trying to be fancy). So why should I pay for a plastic bottle of something that’s coming out of the tap anyway?


I had absolutely no faith in shampoo bars when the idea was introduced to me, but I chatted to a couple of friends who were already using them and decided throw caution to the wind and give them a try.

Lush’s Honey I Washed My Hair was the first bar I reached for (because honey, obviously). It took a couple of washes for me to get used to the idea of using a bar instead of liquid shampoo, but now I can’t see myself ever going back. Why would I? I’ve noticed literally no difference in the condition of my hair, the bar sits snugly in my soap rack next to the soap of my dreams so I don’t need extra bottle in the shower, AND I’m saving the world (or at least my tiny part of it).

3. Cotton Face Rounds

I’ve always had this weird thing about taking my makeup off with a flannel (Face cloth? Wash cloth? Mini towel?). I have no idea why, but I’ve never been able to get on board with it so cotton face rounds were a fixture in my bathroom. Once I started being more mindful of my waste, I couldn’t really ignore the growing binful of rounds & wrappers ever week.

But what to do? I still really didn’t want to switch to a flannel, but I had no idea what else I could use to take my makeup off- particularly heavy stage makeup! Luckily, google came to the rescue and I stumbled across the hidden world of these babies.


Reusable cotton rounds! Such a simple solution. I now have two spaces in my bathroom drawer- one for clean rounds and one for dirty. Once I’ve used a rounds to get rid of my face, it gets thrown in the dirty sections and come wash-day the whole lot of them get thrown in an Onya Bag with the rest of my washing and come out ready to go again! What a bunch of champions.

4. Single Use Cutlery

The western world loves to eat on the run.

That was one huge thing that I noticed during my time in Italy- food ‘on the go’ isn’t a thing. Even my coffee in a keepcup was the cause of much hilarity! Over here in Australia, food is always a rushed event. Grab a salad and a plastic fork, eat it on the tram. After a curry? Grab some takeaway with a cutlery pack and eat it at your desk. We’re always in a rush and those single-use plastics just keep piling up.

Now, I’ve always been a bit of a cutlery hoarder – I once went through airport security and had to hand over six metal forks that I had apparently been carrying around with me- but that’s not what you could call an ideal solution. Luckily, in an airport in Hong Kong, I found the perfect solution! I now have a little tube that pops open to reveal a half-sized fork, spoon, and collapsible set of chopsticks (because Hong Kong). It sits in my backpack and means that I never have to say yes to cutlery again. Finding a solution that works for you might take a bit of looking, but I believe in you.

5. A Rubbish Bin

Say what? Swap out your rubbish bin?? I know, this is a weird one.

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To be honest, getting rid of my rubbish bin was more of an accidental swap – when I moved into my little house over a year ago, I always intended to get the perfect rubbish bin for tiny kitchen, but nothing ever seemed to be right. My rubbish solution always ended up being a bag slung over a cupboard handle- ugly and plastic.

As I converted more of my purchases to recyclable or reusable alternatives, I noticed that my bagful of rubbish was getting smaller and smaller and decided to make a concerted effort to cut it down even more. Now my waste system consists of a carton for my recycling and a bokashi compost system for all of my food scraps- everything else goes into this odd little bucket that I somehow acquired on an Ikea trip.

Is it the perfect rubbish bin? Not by a long shot. It’s small, annoying to try and stack rubbish in, and I can’t find anywhere to keep it that doesn’t drive me nuts. And THAT is what makes it perfect for me. Having rubbish in my kitchen is now a friction point- it annoys me to see it there and it’s a pain to take down to the bins.  You had better bet that any time I’m weighing up a purchase I start thinking about that annoying little rubbish pile in the corner of my kitchen and look for an alternative that I can tuck away into my recycling instead. And any time I do succumb to the easier plastic alternative, that wrapping will sit there and judge me until I take it to the building’s bins, prodding me to seek out alternatives. It’s all about the baby steps!

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to subscribe for updates, and if you want to see more of me, come say hello on my Instagram or Twitter, I would love to see you there!

 5 MORE Easy Switches to Save the World!

5 Easy Switches to Change the World

6th March – Dentist’s Day! (go floss)

Depending on the people you hang out with, you may be aware of a growing movement for a low waste/zero waste/plastic-free life. I can’t remember when I first heard of the concept, but it very quickly wheedled into my brain and has slowly been changing the way I live day-to-day.

The great thing about trying to live with less waste, is that it really isn’t that hard. You can change as little or as much as you feel inclined to, and every little change is still helping. One less coffee cup thrown in the bin may not feel like it’s worth the effort to you, but if every office worker in America refuses one take-away coffee cup a year? 124.73 million cups saved. Doesn’t that make you feel a little better? It certainly give me hope. So without further ado – 5 steps I took to change the world!

  1. Disposable coffee cups

I live in Melbourne. This means that there is more caffeine in my veins than red blood cells-FACT. We Melburnians take coffee very seriously (perhaps too seriously?) In fact, apparently Australians go through approx 50,000 coffee cups every 30 minutes and I can guarantee that I see at least 80% of those clutched in the hands of office workers in the Melbourne CBD . When you think that every one of those cups comes with a plastic lid & a polyethylene-coated paper body, that’s a serious chunk of plastic that can be easily avoided. To combat all that wastage, I now compliment my coffee habit with this sassy lady:


Keepcup was my choice because it was easily accessible for me, I could customise every piece of it, and replacement parts are cheaply available if I need them. They have fun releases like this Star Wars series that I’ve been trying to resist. My Keepcup apparently broke even with disposable cups after 15 uses and is completely recyclable at the end of it’s life. Also, just try and tell me that this isn’t the prettiest cup you ever did see.

Like any change, making this swap should be about what works for YOU so have a look around at what others are using. My little sis has a collapsible cup that I handed off to her after it drove me crazy and she won’t leave the house without it. If you’re going to be using your new world-friendly alternative, you had better make sure it’s one that brings you joy every. freaking. day.

2. Plastic bags

We’ve all heard this one- the plastic bag is one of the easiest swaps and can have a huge impact. In fact, there are a number of countries and towns that now tax plastic bag usage or ban them entirely. Most people stop at swapping out the plastic bags used to haul their shopping in from the car, but you’re about to become so much cooler than that! How about refusing all of those smaller bags you use to pick up your produce? Or that paper bag your daily sandwhich comes in? Meet your new eco-best friends:


Onya Bags are what I use to replace all of those incidental plastics that you come across, but you can find alternatives anywhere. I initially went with Onya Bags when I found them in an online eco store in Australia, but there are tons of options. If you’re located outside of Australia, then why not grab some of these? Or why not grab some cheesecloth & make your own?

The trick with this swap is to make sure you always have a bag or two handy. Produce bags are super-light and compress down to nothing, so you won’t even notice that one floating around in the bottom of your bag (until you need it. Then you’re an eco-WARRIOR).

I combine mine with one of these amazing bags, which I use for completely hedonistic purchases like fresh pastries or baked bread. Because you know what’s nicer than eating your croissant from a crinkly paper bag? Smugly handing over your soft, creamy cotton bag and enjoying every single flaky bite, feeling like you’re on the banks of the freaking Seine. I always recommend Lizzie’s Bags in particular because she works with women in Mumbai to provide employment, and they’re soft & light enough that it’s easy to forget you’re carrying it (again, until you’re an ECO-WARRIOR. See above).

3. Water Bottles

You don’t need me for this one. Find a bottle that’s not made of plastic. If you’re like me and you’re always leaving your bottles at home, buy three and keep them everywhere you need them. When you need water, fill & drink. Repeat as needed. Plastic schmastic.

4. Sanitary Products

Lady moment here. If you have your period regularly, that shiz will get expensive. And inconvenient. And you know what else it is? Really ferdydurking wasteful. We’ve been conditioned not to talk about any of this (unless it’s laughing with our besties in our tight white jeans while trying to sell these products to others), so it’s understandable if you’re a little squeamish about this conversion. It took me a while to take the first tentative steps, and to be honest? I would really rather not be talking about it right now either. But I will, because I love you, and just like anything, once you get the change over and done with, it really ain’t so bad. Right, here we go.

lunette-menstrual-cupMenstrual Cups

Yes, after years of grabbing your product of choice and just gettingitoverwith these might take a bit of getting used to. But you know what? Once you get the hang of using one of these babies, it’s kind of great. No more desperate dashes to the 7-11 to buy tampons and then ANYTHING ELSE so tampons aren’t the only thing you’re buying. No more finding those random lone soldiers in every single handbag you own. No more having to figure out what you do if the toilet cubicle you’re in doesn’t have a bin and it’s change time. Just use-wash-disinfect-tuck away for another month.

Yes, you probably had a moment of sticker shock (it costs HOW much??) but if you factor in how much you pay every month and the fact that you can use this bad boy (bad lady?) for several years at least, your bank balance is still going to come out on top. Take a deep breath, make a cup of tea, do the googles. Your body (and your bank balance, AND your earth) will thank you for it.

5. Food Wraps

We live a busy lifestyle these days, there’s no denying it. If you’re *ahem* ‘fiscally aware’ like me, then that probably means that you prep & eat one or more of your meals on the go most days. If you’ve thoughtfully prepared a sandwhich/slice/mystery deliciousness (please let me know your mystery deliciousness) then you’ll probably wrap it in some clingfilm/saran wrap/gladwrap or tinfoil and feel pretty proud of yourself. But what happens to the waste when that meal finishes? Let me introduce: Beeswax Wraps


Through some sheer magic these wraps bind to themselves for a tight seal, keep your food fresher for longer than standard wraps, clean up like a dream and smell freaking amazing. They are usually also made of organic cotton, which means at the end of their life they can be tossed into the compost with the rest of your scraps. Literally any situation where you would use normal food wrap, you can use these babies. Because they’re stiffer than your standard wraps, you can even get creative and use them in even more situations! Again, these feel like a pricey investment when you’re getting set up, but it’s one that means you’ll never have to buy wrap ever again. 


This is an Abbie-specific swap. I was actually tentative about including this in the list because it’s not really in line with the plastic-free lifestyle and it’s really also me admitting that I’ve been sucked into some crazy first world luxury that I should be able to do without. But you know what? While a completely zero-waste lifestyle might appear to some, I think most people are more interested in the changes they can make to be kinder to the earth without forgoing the life they’ve worked hard to live. So that being said, meet one of my greatest plastic-producing vices.


That’s right. Sparkling water. Not even soda- just freaking fizzy feelgood. I love it. I could drink a liter of this stuff without any problems. Only there is a problem – unless you go for the super expensive designer brands, the only way to purchase sparkling water is from your local plastic-filled soft drink aisle. And so I got to thinking about how I could maintain my fizzy habit without having to eyeball those plastic bottles in my recycling every week. It took a bit of time but eventually I put on my big girl pants, smacked down my inner Scrooge, and purchased one of these bad boys:


 SodaStream Sparkling Water Maker

And I love it. It’s yellow! And I can fizz to my hearts content. You can practically see the angel song shining out of it. AAHHHHHHHHHH

The empty cylinders are swapped out to be refilled and I have unlimited sparkling water with zero plastics (aside from the refillable bottle, which I will upgrade to glass when it’s time to replace).

You might not care about ENDLESS FIZZY WATER so this swap probably won’t make much sense to you- but what do you care about? If you looked through your rubbish, what plastic items would you see again & again? And how could you swap those out if you really had to? Have a think, and then let me know. I would love to hear your suggestions!

If you want to see more of me, you can check out my Instagram & Twitter, I would love to see you there!

5 Easy Switches to Change the World