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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Soap Grows on Trees: Introducing ‘Krya’ Sustainable Goodies

~ Part I: Remembering ~

Recently, a friend S was visiting her grandmother in the countryside after many long years. One day as Grandma and S sat in the courtyard exchanging news, a couple of women walked in carrying a huge drum of something that S thought looked very familiar.
“Gran, what are those? I remember seeing them…. uhmmm.... didn’t Mummy wash our clothes with them when we were really small?”
“You are right beta. They are reetha or soapnuts.”
“Granny, you still use them to wash clothes…. ! I mean I did see some modern-day detergent packets in the shop down the street!”
“You are right beta. When these detergents came, we did switch to them for a while. But now we are back to using reetha.”
S looked puzzled, why would anyone want to not use readily available detergents that are so convenient, she thought. Grandma, as though reading S’s thoughts continued.
Beta, a few years ago a gentleman from the city had come to meet your Grandfather. He was especially impressed by your Grandfather’s tree plantation initiative. The gentleman told us many things about conserving the environment that we didn’t know. He also told us about the far-reaching environmental impact of detergents – how detergent wastes destroy underwater ecosystems and disrupt the hormonal levels in humans and animals, how detergent manufacture release cancer-causing toxins, how detergent fragrances pose serious problems for people suffering from asthma and heart problems, how the chemical residues from detergents left behind on the clothes can enter the human body through the skin and lungs and cause allergies…. and besides beta, the detergents are available in plastic that choke the Earth. Your Grandfather was convinced; in fact, he has convinced many other households in the village to go back to using reetha to wash clothes.”
Grandmother had perhaps noticed the look of bewilderment on S’s face and so added, “The gentleman also told us that if anybody needs more information, they would just need to search the computer.”
“Computer? Oh Granny! You mean the Internet?”
“No idea what the Internet is beta”, Granny replied with a twinkle in her eye as she rose to join the reetha-bearing women at the other side of the courtyard.

Do you remember the reetha from your younger days, as well? Are you trying to remember the time in the 80s and 90s when economic liberalization began in India, we were flooded with choices for “convenient” detergents, and we lost our reetha to convenience? Are you wondering whether we did right? Do you wish to gather evidence on the far-reaching environmental impact of chemical detergents? Do you wish to check out environmental-friendly alternatives? If the answer to all these question is “yes”, then do read on.

~ Part II: Research ~

Nature’s Own Detergent: The Soapnut

S did not forget the conversation with her Grandmother; after she returned to the city, she searched extensively for information on the toxic effects of modern-day detergents. She found supporting evidence for all of the “gentleman’s” claims. Here are some online texts that S read:

Detergents threaten India’s water bodies: This article in the Down to Earth, India Environment Portal informs about phosphates contained in detergents, in what ways phosphates impact water bodies, and a detergent-related case study that led to an important legislation in favor of the environment in Canada.

Detergents under scrutiny: This article from India Together, among other things, is important for its notes on the toxic effects of detergents on human health.

Sustainable Baby Steps: This website on soapnuts lists its myriad use and benefits (did you know that the soapnut can be used to shampoo your pet animals?)

Aakanksha's blog: “Experimenting with Soapnuts” is an information-packed post by Aakanksha, a vegan from Pune, who chronicles her “discovery” of soapnuts as a detergent and among other things, helps clear some myths around soapnut use. You can also find the recipe for liquid soapnut detergent here.

Indian soap nut makes an eco-friendly alternative to chemical detergents in Germany: This article in The Economic Times is testimony of the growing popularity of the Indian soapnut in a country such as Germany where people are more conscious about living in harmony with Nature.

Krya blog: “Soapberries : The eco-friendly cleaning solution” from the Krya blog makes very informative reading. In fact, the opening lines, “If you think that detergents are found only on supermarket shelves, then be prepared for a clean, green surprise. It grows on trees….” is enough of a hook to get you to read the entire article. The article has a surprise in the end. It mentions Srinivas as the writer of the article and introduces him as the CEO & Co-Founder of “Krya Consumer Products”.

That sounded like a “company” to our good friend S and she wondered whether it was into manufacturing that involved reetha. Well, what she found, that includes after using one Krya product, comprises the third part of this story.

~ Part III: Revelation ~

‘Krya’ Consumer Products

“Ideas can be life-changing. Sometimes all you need to open the door is just one more good idea.” ~Jim Rohn, American entrepreneur, author, and motivational speaker~

S wishes us to state upfront that Krya manufactures plant-based cleaning solutions, prepared without the use of chemicals additives and without testing on sentient animals.

The people: The portfolio of people behind Krya Consumer Products is very, very impressive. Krya meaning “mindful action” is conceptualized and created by Srinivas and Preethi, both graduates from IIM; Bangalore and Calcutta, respectively. Now, that is what our society needs management grads. from premier B-school institutions to be doing – innovating for sustainability, our friend S thought.

Photograph courtesy: Krya

Product description: The Krya Pure Natural Detergent, made from certified organic reetha and mined calcium carbonate (not extracted from marine organisms) in the 97% – 3% ratio, respectively, is the company’s first product. This means the detergent does not include the following: fillers, phosphates, bleaches, enzymes, builders, and artificial fragrance and colours. (Remember Granny’s description of the havoc caused to the environment and the dangers to human health brought about by chemicals in detergents.)

The detergent works in both front and top loading machines and can be used to do the good old wash by hand as well. It cleans just as well as any other chemical detergent besides being gentle on the fabric and color, and leaves behind a beautiful earthy Mother-Nature-like smell on the clothes.

Benefits: The detergent is biodegradable and saves water while washing because you do not need lots of it, which you would otherwise need, to eliminate the chemical residues from a chemically treated detergent. According to estimates, the detergent saves between 50-150 liters of water per wash. Now, if you care about conserving the Earth and look for ways to reduce your carbon footprint, then this is definitely the detergent to check out, our friend S thought. It is a safe way of washing clothes as well as it is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal in nature. And wait, according to experts in rainwater harvesting, the wash water from the Krya Pure Natural Detergent can be directly used to water your plants or directed into the rain water harvesting channel!

Respect for animals: Now this one impressed our friend S beyond measure as she is a big stickler for products that have not been tested on sentient animals. The Krya detergent pack carries the declaration “We love animals and do not test on them. All Krya products are Vegan. They do not contain any animal derived ingredients.” Yet another great way to reduce your carbon footprint!

Cool order system: Our friend S discovered that the Company ships the detergents for free, anywhere in India for which one needs to place the order at the Krya website at! And if you encounter issues while placing the order, Preethi is there to help you troubleshoot; you can simply drop her a mail at What ’s more, the delivery seems to happen by super fast(est) mail system!

And, you can click this link for some customer reviews of Krya detergent.

Prelude.... seeing with a new lens
“Granny, I found Krya....”, S began as she excitedly told Grandma in detail about her discovery over the phone one day.
“Bless you beta, now you know that soap indeed grows on trees,” remarked Granny with fondness in her voice.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

‘Basic Economics and Four Types of Advocacy’ by Dan Cudahy

Vegans, primarily those for ethical reasons, are naturally concerned about how to proliferate the demand for fair and compassionate consumership. This is a healthy trend that holds the key to save the Planet from imminent doom. All over the world, however small, there has been a rise in the demand for vegan products. The reasons for this demand could be manifold: personal health, environmental or animal rights concerns.

Whatever be the reasons, you will agree that it has firm basis in education. It is only awareness through education that can liberate us from our invisible, yet powerful defenses and alter the consumer patterns in the entire world.

We all have read the basic demand-supply theory in school. Today, we are pleased to re-publish an essay on basic economics in the vegan context written by blogger friend, Dan Cudahy, author of the stimulating blog, Unpopular Vegan Essays. This essay entitled, Basic Economics and Four Types of Advocacy is significant for two fundamental reasons, it provides: 
1) A perspective on and a comparison between supply side and demand side advocacy
2) A framework to understand the abject need for vegan education to drive the demand for fair and compassionate consumership.
You can click this link for the original posting of the essay.

Basic Economics and Four Types of Advocacy
by Dan Cudahy

Supply-side Versus Demand-side Advocacy

We live in a market economy made up of two major factors – supply and demand. These two factors determine what is bought and sold and for how much. Qualitatively, demand represents the wants and needs of buyers in an economy. Supply represents the efforts of firms to profit from existing demand. The stronger the demand for a given product, the more potential profit and resulting competition among suppliers there will be in attempting to satisfy demand for the product. If there is no demand for a given product, there will be no supply for the product because firms will not be able to profit.

The most important conclusion to draw from the simple qualitative economic facts above is that demand drives supply. Marketing firms may help a product realize its potential demand, but they cannot create demand. [1]

Since demand drives supply, if we focus on changing demand, we can change supply. But the reverse is not true: we cannot change demand by focusing on supply.

For example, Hellmann’s® Mayonnaise recently announced that it has switched to “cage-free eggs” in its Light Mayonnaise. In a discussion with advocates about this switch, I suggested that if large animal welfare organizations insisted on engaging in single-issue campaigns (because such campaigns are good fundraisers), then instead of “cage-free egg” campaigns, they would at least be engaging in legitimate animal advocacy to campaign for vegan alternatives in restaurants and brand-name products.

However, the problem with such vegan-oriented single issue campaigns is that they are supply-side advocacy. To use the example above, let’s assume that Hellmann’s® developed a vegan mayonnaise to compete with Vegenaise® and Nayonaise®. Only if there is sufficient demand will it be sufficiently profitable for Hellmann’s® to keep the product on the market and develop it further. If there is not sufficient demand, the vegan product will not be sufficiently profitable and Hellmann’s® will discontinue the vegan product. The marketing and chief executives and stockholders don’t care what sells (e.g. vegan products or animal products), they only care that a product or service sells, i.e. that there is a demand for the product.

So what does this imply for animal advocacy? It obviously implies that we must focus virtually 100% of our time and energy on increasing demand for vegan alternatives to replace animal products. The only way to do that is through vegan education; that is, informing people why they ought to go vegan and how to go vegan. As we create more demand for vegan products through vegan education, suppliers will respond by catering to the new demand.

There can never be enough vegan education. New vegan products can be taken off the shelf for a lack of demand; but people, once genuinely convinced that animals are persons to be fully included in the moral community, and once educated on how to be a vegan, will stay vegan for a lifetime and influence others, thereby increasing demand.

Welfare Activities Versus Vegan Advocacy

It is illegitimate to call welfare reform activities animal “advocacy” because such a paradigm and the resulting activities encourage people to continue consuming animal products. The welfare paradigm and activities are not merely neutral and unproductive; they are harmful and counterproductive. On the surface, welfare activities appear to reduce violence and suffering in their temporary focus on the symptoms of speciesism. But below the surface, welfarist thinking is the very problem of exploitation itself. All animal exploiters, virtually without exception, “take animal welfare very seriously.” This is because the philosophy of animal welfare accepts, as a most basic and dogmatic premise, that nonhuman animals are here for us to exploit.

Welfare activity, because of its inherent ineffectiveness and support of animal exploitation and killing, as both a theoretical and practical matter, is the active promotion of violence.

Vegan advocacy inherently rejects all animal exploitation and the promotion of violence. Such rejection is the essence of vegan advocacy, and is the only advocacy for nonhuman animals.

Four Types of Activities

Below are four types of activities distinguished by whether they address supply or demand, and whether they are vegan or welfare activities.

Type 4 activities are supply-side welfare activities. They generate most of the revenues for the large corporate animal welfare groups like PETA and HSUS, which is one reason they are so common and popular from the standpoint of the welfare groups. They are counterproductive because they indirectly encourage animal product consumption. They also drain resources from demand-side vegan activities.

Examples of Type 4 activities are welfare single-issue campaigns, welfare law campaigns (e.g. Prop 2 in California), welfare reform campaigns, controlled atmosphere killing and cage-free campaigns, gestation crate campaigns, and foie gras prohibition campaigns.

Type 3 activities are demand-side welfare activities. They are counterproductive because they directly encourage animal product consumption, increase demand for animal products, decrease demand for vegan products, and drain resources from demand-side vegan activities.

Examples of Type 3 activities are encouraging or condoning “happy meat” and “cage-free egg” consumption. A typical Type 3 statement is, "If you're going to insist on eating that anyway, at least buy free-range." If we would not say, "If you're going to kill or rape anyway, at least don't beat the victim as many times as you normally do", then we should not say similar things about animal product consumption. Silence is far better than Type 3 statements.

Type 2 activities are supply-side vegan activities. With the exception of owning a vegan business, these activities do little or nothing to decrease demand for animal products or increase demand for vegan products. Owning a vegan business is an excellent advocacy activity. All other supply-side vegan activities, while not necessarily counterproductive, drain resources away from demand-side vegan activities, and in many cases (such as anti-fur campaigns), are counterproductive as they encourage speciesism by their narrow focus.

Examples of Type 2 activities are requesting vegan products from grocers and restaurants (as an advocacy tool; not because you simply want a certain vegan product available); vegan product campaign (e.g. campaigning for Hellmann’s® to develop and market a vegan mayonnaise); owning and operating a vegan restaurant (again, a great form of advocacy, largely because it incorporates Type 1 activities); vegan product development; elimination single-issue campaigns (speciesist and utterly useless unless we've eliminated demand).

Type 1 activities are demand-side vegan activities. They decrease demand for animal products while simultaneously increasing demand for vegan products. Because of their focus on demand and vegan education, demand-side vegan activities are the only activities capable of eventually abolishing animal exploitation.

Examples of Type 1 activities are vegan education (explaining why and how to go vegan through various media and opportunities); abolitionist education (explaining the legal and many other similarities between human chattel slavery and modern nonhuman slavery); vegan food blogs and cooking classes; educating fellow advocates and others about the problems with welfarism and single-issue campaigns.

Important: Unless we are operating a vegan business (which is mostly a supply-side activity), we should spend between 97% and 100% of our animal advocacy time doing Type 1, demand-side vegan activities and the remaining time, if any, doing Type 2 supply-side vegan activities. We should always stay entirely away from harmful Type 3 and 4 welfare activities.

Welfare activities are popular because they accept our society’s violent and speciesist belief that nonhuman animals are here for us to exploit and kill, but they are counterproductive because by such acceptance, they also promote and strengthen the violent and speciesist notion that animals are here for us to exploit and kill. Welfare activities are part of a vicious circle.
C _________________

[1] Marketing firms are in the business of realizing the potential demand for products, but the realization they are able to generate consists in making consumers aware of a given product or service along with various psychological methods of stimulating potential consumers’ interest in the product. Marketing a product can only fulfill a product’s potential demand; it cannot create demand. We can market a highly undesirable product or service all we want, but if the product has no inherent demand, the product will not sell.