On Friday, I wrote about my comparison test between two soap nut products, Maggie's Soap Nuts and Berry Plus. Maggie's is just soap nuts, the raw product. You can buy them under a number of brand names at eco-stores and online. I bought my box of Maggie's at Blue Ridge Ec0 Shop. Berry Plus is a new liquid that is 95% soap nut (or berry) and is being marketed to college students. Free samples of that product were given out at the UVa Bookstore on Thursday.
I thought both products cleaned beautifully. The only fault I found was with Berry Plus' packaging and a few readers commented that they didn't like the packaging either.
The packaging would make the difference for me. The Berry stuff seems less eco-friendly with all that plastic.~Jane @ The Borrowed Abode
The plastic packaging turns me off completely. Even if it were the better product and was less expensive, I still wouldn't use it just because of the environmental impact.
On Friday afternoon, I got an email from Jason Goldenberg at Berry Plus, who wanted to talk about the comments on the blog. I emailed with my phone number and waited to hear back. By 5 PM on Friday, I figured I could go back to being a design blogger and let the topic of laundry detergents slide down the page.
Well, here I am blogging about laundry detergent again. Perhaps I'm really blogging about blogging and how companies can respond to bloggers (especially when blog posts like mine will show up in Google searches for quite a while after this).
This morning, I woke up to the longest comment ever left on this blog. It comes from someone who says they are a UVA student. I don't think I have many UVA students who are reading and those who do see my blog probably do so via the local blog aggregator and wouldn't see a post three days after it's been written.
Here's the comment (I'm adding line between paragraphs just for ease of reading):
So glad to see so many comments around berryplus. I am a huge fan because it works and it is smart. Thank goodness this company is willing to try something different.
Just a quick clarification about the packaging. The outer package is compostable and the tube are 80% recycled material and they are fully recyclable. I received a sample on campus as well and did my homework directly with the people at berryplus (who I might add were very friendly and willing to share information). I think the real comparison is between your average jug and berryplus. For anybody like my parents that are buying anything in a jug, the jugs use 60% more packaging of old fashioned plastic. Not to mention that it weighs a lot more to transport so more fuel is used. The packaging was designed for convenience so not only is there no need to lug the jug but no need to overdose again. I know that normally when I do laundry I just pour a bunch of laundry soap in the wash the more the better and hope it comes out clean.
With berryplus I just emptied the capsule as instructed and my clothes came out perfect........ smelling clean and looking totally clean.
As a student I am a big fan of berryplus and I hope you replace all the jugs across the nation.
To those who mentioned other brands they use I am sure they are not 95% berry based and 100% plant based read the ingredients. Not to mention that they all use way more plastic and they weigh way more.
Let's give cool start up companies (not amateur) a break they are doing something great. I am so proud of UVA for realizing this is a great product for their school and the planet.
There are a few problems here.
First of all, the comment is so poorly written that I doubt it was written by a UVA student. These kids are smart. I interact with them daily in person, by email, and online. Even when using social media, they write well. There's also that fixation on the jug, which is the word used in the Berry Plus marketing campaign. Didn't I also comment on how poorly written some of the Berry Plus website was on Friday? Hm.
Second, we have lingo here. There are some special words that are used here that may seem foreign to those outside of our little bubble. The absence of that lingo doesn't bother me, but the use of one word that is never, ever used here jumped out. I'm not going to put the word in black and white, but if you are a member of the UVA community, I'm sure you see it. I even showed the comment to a few others who laughed when they got to the word.
Third, the timing seems impossible. This person claims to have done "research" with the people at the company and has been using the product long enough to be a "huge fan". Berry Plus was given out at the bookstore on Thursday.
Lastly, using the names directory on the website, I found that there are no students named Raina at the school. What's more, there are no faculty, administrators, or staff members at UVA or the hospital named Raina. Hard to believe, but the directory even returns close names in case of spelling errors.
Moving on, what about the part that says the packaging is recyclable? I didn't think unmarked plastic was recyclable. As a lifelong recycler who remembers the time when we only recycled glass and cans, I know the numbers on different plastics and which ones I can recycle here in town, but was about to email Recycla (aka Jen) to get the scoop. She beat me to the punch and commented on the post:
As for whether or not the packing is recyclable, I can tell you that, in general, it is not. That said, Whole Foods does accept all plastics for recycling at this time, but what I cannot tell you is what happens to those plastics after being dropped off at Whole Foods.
A note about so-called compostable plastics: Often, when a company says that their packaging will break down in a compost bin, their testing was done in industrial composters, which reach much higher temps than home composters do. About a year ago, Mother Earth News performed some tests on so-called compostable plastics and discovered that they do not break down in home compost bins. I've been doing some experimenting myself and have had the same results.
Bottom line: It's best to reduce your plastic use to begin with, regardless of whether or not it can be recycled or composted.
A big thanks to Jen for clearing that up and making a great point.
Stick a fork in this topic. As of tomorrow, I'll be back in design blog world. I hate posting entries without pictures, so I sprinkled in a few dreamy laundry rooms from Rate My Space. Enjoy!