Spring Cleaning at Sultry Suds
Sultry Suds was first brought to my attention as the host of a spring workshop focused on making your own environmentally friendly cleaning products. The owner, Jenna Scott, carries on obvious eco-ethic that shows through in her line of soaps, moisturizers, and all that sort of stuff that guys like me under appreciate.
For these types of products to be greener than the competition, they have to use cleaner ingredients (considering production and disposal) which are more often than not less harsh on the body. It's hard not to be skeptical of product line's like President's Choice "Green" label which often don't even list ingredients, but would have you take their word for it. So I thought I might learn a thing or two from a closer look at this small-scale local producer.
I stopped in on her at her at her studio space / store near Ossington & Dupont. Though she's been in business nearly five years, the space is new as she's finally at the point where she can work full time and out of her home. There were glass jars of oils infused with real, fresh herbs all over the place, and I quickly recognized some of the bulk oil containers as being quality brands such as Quebec's Soleil D'or olive oil. I'm told most of the products contain only Canadian ingredients.
I'm probably not a typical Sultry Suds customer but I was interested in asking questions about brand name personal health products like "what are the absolute worst offenders?" I know it isn't just about how much money you spend, as the overwhelming smell in a Lush store wilI give just about anyone a headache and still set you back $50 for a mother's day gift. I took away that shaving creams are perhaps the most underrated health risks, the "fragrance" is a particularly bad ingredient (the most likely case of any allergic reaction), and that sodium lauryl sulfate is a sure sign of a cheap product.
Locally, Sultry Suds "private label" custom products can apparently be found at such Toronto shops as Elixir Organic Spa and The Healthy Butcher. The latter for which interestingly enough they carry a custom soap made from the (previously wasted) animal tallow (fat). Apparently the butcher drops off the tallow for free, which is then mixed with soy, coconut, or olive oils, made into soaps and sold back to them. Neat.
Jenna's environmental background goes back to a geography undergraduate degree followed by a position working with the Toronto non-profit organization LEAF (Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests). Less than stable funding lead to other positions with the Canadian Cancer Society and the Ontario Natural Food Co-op. From there an interest an holistic nutrition and herbal medicine developed into making her own soap products as a hobby out of her home.
So that workshop that initially piqued my interest? I like the educational concept and that it doesn't sound like a sales pitch. The the idea is that cleaners are something you shouldn't have to buy, even if you don't want to use that wonderful smelling straight-up vinegar scrub. Something similar is being hosted by WHEN (Women's Healthy Environments Network) Lower Your Doses Hands-On Workshop on May 7.
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