Monthly Archives: June 2013

Prevention is Better Than Cure

Well people, the new stall in the Village Market at Cape Quarter rocks! Dawn and I are having so much fun interacting with people and getting a sense of what it is that our products are used for and the social context, so to speak, in which our work must function. It has been an experience and a half.

D&Y's First Day !!!_edited-1

One of the things I have noticed from this experience are the numbers of people who are coming to us for eczema related problems. Now it is a fact that rates of eczema, allergies and asthma have been rising steadily in the last few decades: “Worldwide the risk of developing eczema is reported to be increasing among children and adolescents and currently affects approximately 5-20%.”

Of course it has been said that increasing environmental pollution has a lot to do with the steep rises in allergy-related diseases. As Maria Rodale points out in her amazing book Organic Manifesto, we are all being subjected to a great chemical experiment. Never before have humans been subjected to so many toxic substances for such a long period of time. The fact that each chemical individually has been declared ‘safe’ at low concentrations does not mean that they are safe for long term use stretching over decades, and mixed with each other. There has never been a study testing pesticides’ interaction with each other over a sustained period of time, even in low doses. The only way we are ever going to find out what happens is now, when my generation who have been exposed to these things for a lifetime begin to age and show wear and tear on our bodies. In the meantime, yes, rising rates of eczema and asthma should worry us. You want to bet they are completely unrelated? Because the stake is our children’s quality of life.

Be that as it may, there is some anecdotal evidence that switching to organic can help with severe eczema: “ a trying seven year experience of eczema on my feet was reduced to practically nil since making the effort last autumn to obtain organic fruit and vegetables a major part of my diet, and both eaten raw.”  To my customers I always say that preventing eczema starts with the soap. If you don’t irritate your skin in the first place then there will be no reason to cure it. Moving from fossil-fuel based soaps (another chemical experiment in progress) to organic soaps is a good way to start minimizing damage. That they are made with renewable energy is just an added bonus, you are saving the planet while getting healthier. No supermarket chain is going to offer you that kind of benefits.

The same effect occurs with your body lotion. Buchu oil works well as a serious moisturizer, and we have had requests for an unscented body butter for those who like a lighter touch. A lot of the feedback I have been getting from customers is that the Buchu Oil Extra Strength does wonders for weeping eczema – whether it is the active ingredients or simply the fact that they are no longer stressing their skin with synthetics I do not know – but this is what I am being told. So if you are a severe eczema sufferer I would recommend trying the switch to organic food and body care. You may find you save lots of money on medical bills simply Dawn's creative handsby not causing the problem in the first place.


Growing and changing…

It has been a time of much reading and thinking for me lately, I am going through something of a rebirth. Perhaps it is turning 50, or maybe it is a shift in my cosmic alignment. Am I just growing up? Anyway, 2013 for me has been a year of letting go of my past and learning to live in the present. Trust me, making soap is something you want to be present while doing 🙂
Some books that have rocked my world: Jeff Rubin’s “Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller”. It fascinates me to see that we were saying the same thing in 2009, namely that peak fossil fuels and climate change between them are going to change the economy as we know it, especially food and energy prices. Rubin predicts an end to a globalized agricultural system because rising oil prices are going to force us to eat local produce. Which would be an entirely good thing, I say. He also points out that this system which exploits the cheap labour of the South to export to the North is going to grind to a halt as rising freight costs outweigh comparative advantage. Again, living as I do in the Western Cape where our high quality textile industry was systematically destroyed by cheap Chinese imports, I cannot think this a bad thing either. I just wish our renewable energy ‘experts’ were to give this some thought. This whole debate about whether we should manufacture our own solar panels or not makes no sense unless we factor in the effect of peak fossil fuels. Duh.  But it is surprising how many “green energy’ people fail to factor in the full economic picture. We preach but we don’t always practice, it seems. That is why it was such a revelation to read Rubin. Like Jeremy Grantham, this is an investment banker who speaks from experience. I love it when the money people and the deep ecology feminists agree!!!
Vandana Shiva’s latest  “Making Peace With Mother Earth” was also a spiritual awakening. Like Wangari Mathai was so fond of doing, Vandana Shiva brings us back over and over again to governance issues. She makes the point that the most effective way to protect the environment in India has been to organize the indigenous peoples whose land is being threatened. It makes me think more around indigenous issues right here at home. If Shiva is right then the the empowerment of the Khoesan is at heart a ‘green issue.
Workwise, I have been busy, together with a bunch of other lovely people we just put together a civil society energy plan. It was great fun. You can read more about it at
Bringing all these strands together is the big news on the Khoelife front. My most amazing friend Dawn Bosman, a woman of grace, beauty charm and intelligence (Yup, the full package, people) has joined me to handle the sales and marketing! And we are opening our first stall!! Yes!!!

Dawn cooking soap in the winter sun

Dawn cooking soap in the winter sun

You will find us in the Village Market @ Cape Quarter ( ) every Wednesday and Sunday from 10.00 – 15.00, starting this weekend 16 June. So celebrating Youth Month by changing and growing seems most appropriate.
But don’t worry, nobody is depriving you of soap! Those of you who are unlucky enough to not live in Cape Town can still order by e-mailing us at