28 April 2009

3 day Open House May 7-9, 2009

The team at Rocky Mountain Soap in Victoria would like to invite our valued customers to a three day open house promotion: Free Gifts, Fantastic Discounts, a chance to try New Products in development and give feedback... exclusive and just for you, our way of saying thank you.

With the purchase $50 or more - 10% off
With the purchase $100 or more - 20% off
With the purchase $150 or more - 30% off

Free gift for you and your guests:
Customers in the rewards program/point system will receive a free gift (value $14) at the event. Friends who sign up to the rewards program will also receive a free gift. Bring your friends!

We will have refreshments, an opportunity to make your own Sugar Scrub, and a chance to discuss why natural matters to all of us.

May 7th (Thur) 9:30 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.
May 8th (Fri) 9:30 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.
May 9th (Sat) 9:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

These offers are available at the Victoria store only. Check here for updates.

Thank you for your continued support of Rocky Mountain Soap!


Victoria Store Team

Located at Mayfair Shopping Centre: (t) 250.382.7070.

26 April 2009

Cocamidopropyl Betaine (CAPB)

Today I got a flyer from a local well known grocery store advertising how they now had natural and earth friendly products. I was intrigued and so I checked to see if there were any personal care products. They listed one company with Natural Shampoo, Conditioner or Soap. This was good, natural is going mainstream. I checked the website of the manufacturer and looked up the ingredients. They said that their shampoo was a:NEW AND IMPROVED FORMULA - 99.9% Naturalthen they listed the ingredients and for the second listed, I was surprised to find:
COCAMIDOPROPYL BETAINE (FROM PLANT SOURCE)But, this is not a natural product at all. So, how they can claim the 99.9% natural moniker, I have no idea. More greenwashing at best, purposefully misleading at worse. Oh sure it is made from coconut oil which is natural, but they neglect to tell you what they do to the coconut oil.

To make cocamidopropyl betaine one reacts coconut oil with 3-dimethylaminoproplylamine (DMAPA) producing cocamidopropyl dimethylamine, which is then allowed to react with sodium monochloroacetate to get CAPB (cocamidopropyl betaine). CAPB can still contain varyng amounts of the initial reactants and intermediate chemicals, including amidoamine a known allergen. Natural? You decide.

CAPB is an obvious contributor to contact dermatitis and thus in addition to the fact that it is not natural, should be avoided if one is looking for natural products, in my opinion.


Foti C, Bonamonte D, Mascolo G, Corcelli A, Lobasso S, Rigano L, Angelini G. The role of 3-dimethylaminopropylamine and amidoamine in contact allergy to cocamidopropylbetaine. Contact Dermatitis. 2003 Apr;48(4):194-8. PMID 12786723

Fowler JF Jr, Zug KM, Taylor JS, Storrs FJ, Sherertz EA, Sasseville DA, Rietschel RL, Pratt MD, Mathias CG, Marks JG, Maibach HI, Fransway AF, Deleo VA, Belsito DV. Allergy to cocamidopropyl betaine and amidoamine in North America. Dermatitis. 2004 Mar;15(1):5-6. PMID 15573641

24 April 2009

What's 'Greenwashing'?

The Oxford definition is as follows:
greenwash: (n) Disinformation disseminated by an organisation so as to present an environmentally responsible public image. Derivatives greenwashing (n). Origin from green on the pattern of whitewash. The Tenth Edition of the Concise Oxford English DictionaryThis is something akin to calling a car 'green' - and no car is completely green, as we know. Even some countries in the EU refuse to allow car companies to call their products green.

has a more interesting and comprehensive definition:
green*wash: (gr~en-wosh) -washers, -washing, -washed 1.) The phenomenon of socially and environmentally destructive corporations attempting to preserve and expand their markets by posing as friends of the environment and leaders in the struggle to eradicate poverty. 2) Environmental whitewash. 3) Any attempt to brainwash consumers or policy makers into believing polluting mega-corporations are the key to environmentally sound sustainable development 4) Hogwash. CorpWatch DefinitionSo, what is a consumer to do? Well, the first thing is to use our common sense. The second is to investigate claims made by companies such as: eco-friendly, green, natural - all valid adjectives and all subject to abuse unfortunately. There are even sites out there that rate claims, such as the Greenwashing Index, where you can find the good, bad and the ugly, see how others rate ads and claims, and rate them yourself.

When I am looking for an environmentally friendlier alternative for something and can't find a local source, I usually check out Real Goods to see what they have. It's a constant struggle to sift through what's real and what's not, but a worthwhile one at that.

Be real, be kind, be natural!

21 April 2009

Earth Day April 22nd...

We celebrated Earth Hour back in March - turned out all the lights and pretended we were camping at home, my diligent five year old even had the wind up flashlight ready in case of any emergencies. Andrea, our eco-sustainability expert at our Edmonton Southgate store, informs me that over 4000 cities participated around the world and that Victoria reduced electricity consumption by 3.1%, though the eco-friendlies in Edmonton beat us with an impressive 5.2% reduction.

Tomorrow is Earth Day in Canada and the northern hemisphere, and I got to thinking about what we are doing here at the store. We, and all the Rocky Mountain Soap stores, use Bullfrog Power as well as using 100% recycled paper with more than 50% post consumer waste content, vegetable based inks and packaging that is 100% recyclable. We only use natural ingredients that are sustainably sourced. It is a small start, there is certainly more to be done. For individuals, Andrea sent me the following great ideas to help celebrate Earth Day tomorrow - thanks Andrea!

Top 10 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day:

1) Get the most bright out of your light! Dust or wipe off your light bulbs.
2) Donate worn towels and blankets to your local vet or animal shelter.
3) Shorten your shower and save 10L of water for every minute reduced.
4) Bring your coffee from home in a to go mug or thermos.
5) USE your reusable bags and stroll proudly past the plastic bags.
6) Rinse your toothbrush in a cup rather than under the tap.
7) Air dry your heavier laundry items such as jeans or towels.
8) Plant a tree or a shrub.
9) Go on a nature walk.
10) Check out the live webcam of Bald Eagles on Hornby Island B.C. It's amazing!

Happy Earth Day everyone!

20 April 2009

Is that Lavender or Lavender?

One of my favourite scents is lavender. I grow it in my garden and we have it in many different products here at Rocky Mountain Soap. It is one of the few essential oils that can be applied directly onto the skin. It has been called "blue gold", has sedative properties and is very relaxing. It is anti-microbial, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. It is of course used in cosmetics, bath and body products and as a delightful fragrance in French cooking and chocolate. The nectar from the flowers also produces a deliciously scented honey. So, with this in mind, I thought I knew everything that I needed to know: all lavender is produced in France, it is easy to grow and all lavender is the same.

I was wrong on two of the three counts. Lavender is not exclusive to France. Eastern Europe is a major production area, and there are lots of lavender farms in BC - in the Okanagan, Vancouver Island and Salt Spring Islands, as well as in Sequim, WA just across the Juan de Fuca Strait. And while it is easy to grow at home, and you can get plants already started at your local gardening centre, be aware that not all lavender is created equal.

There are over 40 different species of lavender. English lavender (Lavandula augustifolia), the most sought after lavender essential oil, known for its delicate and subtle fragrance is the most common. However, Lavandin (L. x intermedia) a clone of a hybrid cross between English lavender (L. augustifolia) and Spike lavender (L. latifolia) is becoming more common because of its larger flowers, often deeper colour, much stronger scent and ease of cultivation. Indeed, it takes about 130kg of English lavender to produce 1 litre of essential oil versus 40kg of Lavandin flowers to get the same amount of essential oil. Lavandin is not true lavender however and is often referred to as 'Bastard Lavender'. It produces an essential oil, strong in camphor (about 6-8% versus the less than 1% composition in English lavender essential oil), and can be found more and more in large scale applications. While its flowers are beautiful, its essential oil is considered to be inferior to of L. augustifolia, lacking the subtle lavender scents associated with fine English lavender. I was wrong, not all lavender is created equal!