My guest Larry Plesent is the Founder of Vermont Soap, which makes “100% natural and non-toxic alternatives to the chemical based personal care products now in general use, including; handmade bar soaps for sensitive skin, anti-aging products, 100% natural shower gels, castile liquid soaps and non-toxic cleaners. Most products made by Vermont Soap are certified to USDA organic standards.” We’ll be talking about Larry’s very nontoxic way of living in the Green Mountains of Vermont, toxic ingredients in soap products, and how they make their organic soap products. Larry is also a writer,philosopher, restaurateur and farmer. www.debralynndadd.com/debras-list/vermont-soap
If you have MCS, this is a great interview to listen to. Larry gives his story of how he became chemically injured, and how his own “reactive body” and lead him to making soap after he tried more than 70 bars of soap he couldn’t tolerate. Now he makes many soap-based products that are unscented, or scented with natural essential oils. If you’ve been unable to find bodycare products you tolerate, try these.
TOXIC FREE TALK RADIO
Clean Soap from Vermont
Host: Debra Lynn Dadd
Guest: Larry Plesent
Date of Broadcast: July 08, 2013
DEBRA: Hi, I’m Debra Lynn Dadd, and this is Toxic Free Talk Radio, where we talk about how to thrive in a toxic world, even though sometimes it may seem like when you watch TV, or listen to the news, or read the newspaper, that everything is toxic.
One day, they’re talking about toxic this, and the next day, they’re talking about toxic that.
In reality, not everything in the world is toxic, and what we do on this show is talk about the natural, organic, non-toxic things that are out there that we can use, and things we can do, in order to create a non-toxic home, in order to remove toxic chemicals from our bodies, and have a happy and productive life.
Today is Monday, July 8, 2013, and I’m here in Clearwater, Florida. Today, we’re going to be talking about soap and personal care products. But before that, I just wanted to tell you that something I realized over the weekend.
I was shopping, and I picked up actually a box of cherries.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with cherries. But I looked at it, and I said, “Wait a minute. Do I need to buy this?” And even though I love cherries, and I really wanted to eat them, I thought, “Now, wait a minute. Is this necessary? Is this an essential thing for me to eat?”
And that was actually the first time I’d ever had that thought. Not that I hadn’t thought about the ide aof what’s really necessary, and what’s really important before, but I haven’t stopped myself from buying something before. I hadn’t put my hand on a product, and then said, “Wait, stop,” especially, something like cherries.
And I realized that what I really needed to do was pay attention first to buying the foods that were essential to my nutrition, and the health of my body, and cherries was not one of those. Certainly, cherries has nutrients, and they’re refreshing and delicious.
But it was more important for me to buy eggs, and pecans, and lettuce, and vegetable and proteins first. And then if I had money left over out of my food budget, then I could buy the cherries.
And just thinking about things like importance—of what’s the most important things that we’re spending our money on, and the most important things that we need to have in life, and buying things that are not toxic—I think, goes right at the top of the list.
And some of these products may cost a little more. I’m not even sure if the products we’re talking about today cost more, but I do know that sometimes people think about, “Well, it costs more to buy things that are non-toxic or organic.”
But it’s so worth it because the value that you get from that little extra that you’re spending is so much more. The benefit is so much more than the extra money that you’re spending.
And if you’re on a budget, like I am, just spend more on the good stuff and buy less. It’s really more important for me to buy organic soap, for example, even if I have to give up my cherries.
So keep that in mind, that there is a way for you to be purchasing the non-toxic products that you need.
Okay, so now, I’m going to introduce my guest, Larry Plesent, from Vermont Soap. He is an eclectic person. He’s a farmer, a philosopher, and the founder of Vermont Soap, and has his own experience with chemical injuries.
Hi, Larry. Are you there?
LARRY PLESENT: I’m here. Hi, Debra Lynn. How are you?
DEBRA: I’m good.
LARRY PLESENT: And hello to everybody out there listening. Thanks for tuning in. Great, thank you. Thanks for this opportunity to speak with you.
DEBRA: You’re welcome. So tell us first about your own personal experience that led you to be interested in toxic issues.
LARRY PLESENT: Well, for me, I really didn’t have any choice for that matter. I was injured—and I don’t mean like I fell, but my insides were injured as a result of repeated chemical exposure in the workplace.
I was a window cleaner, and for seven years, I was the guy swinging from a rope, hanging off buildings, cleaning the windows. I thought my job was dangerous, but little did I know that my job was much safer than the cleaning chemicals I was using back then.
And so at least when I was hanging from a line—at least when I was hanging from a line, I had a safety line. If my main line should somehow get caught or compromised and cut, I had a safety backup. Everything was double back safety.
But when I was using the cleaning chemicals, there was no double back safety. So it was only the cleaning stuff.
And even back then, I was a bit of a chemist, and I made our mix of cleaning chemicals. And it was all things that I bought in the supermarket, as amazingly enough, as it was in. I’m happy to share, anybody who wants to make the stuff I made—of course, I was using a squeegee and special equipment.
But we started with water, and to that, we had a good, healthy squirt of Lemon Joy. It really works good on the windows. And then I put in a good sprinkle of Spic and Span, which is a powdered detergent—and al very powerful.
And then when it got a little colder, I would put windshield washer fluid in there, which is methanol.
Little did I know, methanol is incredibly poisonous, and not only that, but it’s linked with all of these other molecules, all these various detergent concoctions that I was cleaning the windows with. And I actually pulled it to my skin.
Even though I tried very hard to—I wore ski pants even in the summer to repel water, and all these things. They would get in my boots. And every night, my socks would be soaked.
And so literally, the source of over-absorption of detergent chemicals, and related chemicals that are found in our detergent concoctions, I absorbed them all, and along with this methanol, which created some liver damage.
So as a result, I became detergent-intolerant. And along with a host of other molecules that are just common things that we encounter all the time, common cleaning molecules, artificial colors, started irritating me. I couldn’t eat anything with artificial colors.
The list seemed to be growing.
And I had some trouble finding the words. We talked about this earlier in our pre-show discussion, as you will recall. What words do you use?
So first I started to say, “Well, I’m, kind of, sensitive. I really shouldn’t be using that.”
And they go, “Oh, he’s sensitive. That’s nice.”
I live in the country, and drive a pick-up truck. You can be tough and sensitive, but you’re not supposed to be wimpy sensitive.
So other than trying to overcome it with, say, a bigger truck, I had to figure this thing out.
And so I stopped saying I’m sensitive because it never got me anywhere. I go in a restaurant and I say, “Well, I’m a little sensitive. Could you tell me what’s in this?”
“Oh, he’s sensitive. Hey, Joe. He’s sensitive. Let me get the dishwasher out here. He’s sensitive too.”
So that didn’t get me anywhere.
And then I started saying, “Well, I’m chemically-sensitive.”
And that would either elicit this quizzical look—people look at you funny, or they’d say, “Oh, my god. Should I call 911? Should I get an ambulance waiting, so you don’t drop dead on my restaurant floor?”
So that didn’t work either.
Finally, after many years of this, I finally hit on a phrase that really, I think, described my condition and the condition of many other people, who have been injured by environmental exposure. And I called that having a reactive body.
And somehow when I say, “Sorry, I can’t be in the cleaner aisle in the supermarket because I have a reactive body,” and sometimes, people might look at you, “I’ve never heard that before.”
There’s none of the strangeness of the other two, and I don’t have to deal with my tough guy image being tarnished by being too sensitive to the cleaning products aisle, the toilet paper aisle.
DEBRA: Well, I think that reactive body actually is a good term because one’s body is reacting to the toxic chemical exposure, and so that’s very accurate, in terms of what’s going on.
LARRY PLESENT: Absolutely. And so my own journey, the first things, it started with, I said, “I must be allergic to these things.” I didn’t understand the mechanism—
DEBRA: But it’s not an allergy.
LARRY PLESENT: It’s not an allergy. Allergy is an antibody reaction to a protein invader. What’s this lovely music?
DEBRA: This lovely music is telling us that it’s time for a break, and that we’ll have to continue your story in a few minutes.
LARRY PLESENT: Well, stay tuned to hear the rest of this.
DEBRA: Stay tuned to hear the rest of the story, yes. You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. My guest is Larry Plesent. He’s the founder of Vermont Soap. And we’ll be back after this. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd.
DEBRA: I’m Debra Lynn Dadd, and you’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. My guest today is Larry Plelsent from Vermont Soap. And we were talking before the break about how Larry became interested in toxic chemicals as a window cleaner, breathing toxic fumes.
And so Larry, tell us something about—what did you do? You then created your own non-toxic world in Vermont, yes?
LARRY PLESENT: Well, I did. And I had no choice for the matter. Just to back the journey up, the first thing I did is I went to a doctor. And I said I’m sensitive. And they just looked at me funny.
DEBRA: And you said, “But here’s my truck.”
LARRY PLESENT: Here’s my truck. That didn’t work. So then they did a bunch of scratch test, I think, 120 scratches on my back. And that’s a good way to tell if you’re allergic to something, and I found out something very useful. I found out that along with at least 40% of the population of this country, I am highly allergic to dust and dust mites.
That was very useful information. And it helps me every day to avoid dust and dust mites.
And I did learn that dust mites also—up here in Vermont, we go all summer when it’s nice and warm. We don’t fire up our heating systems, whatever they might be. But when they turn on in about mid-September or so, people have very strong skin reactions, and they get very irritated, and you can see that their faces are very rash-y.
And that’s because the dust mites are burning off the heating system.
DEBRA: I didn’t know that.
LARRY PLESENT: Now, whatever you use whether it’s a stove pipe with dust on it, whether it’s a heater, baseboard heater, or a heater that gets blown, blowing air around. Whatever you have, wipe it down with a damp rag, and get that dust off of it, and you’ll have a much easier time.
Also, I always recommend opening all the doors and windows, turning the heat on, and going out, and having something healthy. Do something healthy for yourself. And then come back and blow all that air out of there. And then you’ll have burned it off.
That’s a good tip, kids. So remember that when heating season comes around in about three or four months.
So that was the start of it. And then I came to realize that regardless of the mechanism, I had become intolerant to all detergent chemicals, and most colors, and artificial flavors. There’s a whole host of things. There were some preservatives I couldn’t quite prove that I had become sensitized to.
Some of this, it is very hard to figure out.
And so I became very depressed because I couldn’t use any bar soaps, I couldn’t use any liquid soaps, I couldn’t use any detergents, I couldn’t use any hand cleaner, I couldn’t use any laundry detergents, or any laundry products.
I get a pair of clothes, and I just wear them endlessly. My social life was in the gutter. No one wanted to hang around with me. I didn’t smell good because I couldn’t bathe regularly.
It was horrible. I’m telling you, I was almost suicidal, Debra Lynn.
And so that lasted about three days. And being that I’m an optimistic person, I said, “Well, if I can’t use these things, there must be other people like me out there. And since I’m an amateur chemist, I’m going to figure out what works, and how to do it, and I’ll make a business out of it. Maybe I could make sure, at the very least, that I’ll have what I need and maybe make enough money on the side as well, to at least feed myself and my family.”
And that was almost 21 years ago. Vermont Soap has grown. We’re not a giant, mega company, but we have two-dozen employees. And our mission is to replace yucky stuff with yummy stuffy.
And we go right through the catalog, replacing items as best we can.
So the first thing I did was—there was no soap of any kind I could use. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. And I tried, literally, over 70 bar soaps. And each one gave me a rash. It was pitiful.
One day, I picked up this bar of handmade soap, and it happened to have some goat’s milk in it. I was able to use it. And not only that, within a few days, my contact dermatitis of eight years cleared up.
And so I said, “Well, there’s either something miraculous about goat’s milk,” in which case, great, we’ll get some goats, or, “There’s something miraculous about farm soap,” as they called it because it was this bar that was made on the farm. And I said, “What kind of soap is this? It’s soft, and strange, and looks like cheese.”
And they said, “Well, it’s farm soap, and we put goat’s milk in it.”
So I knew right away that this is either an ingredient story—goat’s milk is magic, or it’s a process story—farm soap, the process of making soap the farm soap way is magic.
Well, it turned out that there was nothing magic about goat’s milk, and I was glad because I was smelling like goat.
Again, my social life was being affected by smelling like a goat. And I didn’t really like the way it felt.
But I did like the way the farm soap felt on me.
I said, “I know. I’m going to perfect this method of making ‘farm soap’” which we now call cold process or handmade soap. And this is before 14,000 little companies popped up, and people started making it.
We were, in fact, the third actual company—meaning, more than one person, in the United States, manufacturing this kind of product.
And I always got into it, not to make a few bars and sell it at the craft fair, but to really make, literally, a million bars a year.
And so we got going on that. In about seven or eight years into it, I started getting interested in liquid soap products. I have a family of vegetable oils—meaning, coconut oil, in particular, and other oils, turned into soap.
Sometimes that’s called castile soap, which is confusing because sometimes bar soaps are called castile soap. I can’t figure out why.
DEBRA: What does castile mean? I thought it meant that it was coconut, or that it’s Spanish or something.
LARRY PLESENT: Yes, both are almost correct. So in the region of La Castilla-La Mancha—anybody who really speaks Spanish will know immediately that I’m faking it on my accent. But in that region of Central Spain, there were a lot of olive trees growing. And that region became very famous for a mild, liquid soap made primarily from olive oil with a little bit of coconut oil. I think it was about 15% coconut oil to harden the soap.
And this was the detergent. This was the liquid soap. This was the laundry soap. This is the hair shampoo. This is what those who could afford it, the very wealthy and privileged and royal Europe—this is what they used.
So it was very famous. It’s mild. Eventually, it was a bad year, and instead of making all out of olive oil, they started using mostly coconut oil, and a little olive oil. And that became what’s now known as castile liquid soap.
We turned that into a number of products. We learned to turn it into a thickened shower gel, or a spray for your surfaces, a pet shampoo, or a foaming hand soap. And that’s the basis of most of our foaming liquid products.
DEBRA: And I’m going to cut you off for the break before this note of music is expired. And you’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. We’re talking with Larry Plesent from Vermont Soap, and we will continue after the break.
DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd, and my guest today is Larry Plesent from Vermont Soap.
Larry, I’m looking at your website, and you have so much information here, so many products. Most of them, you say, are USDA organic-certified, which is great. I’d like to see all those organic ingredients.
I’m especially interested in what you’re saying about your soap and different skin types. As I’m looking at this, I’m thinking—well, I’ve heard of this before—skin types. I know that I have oily skin. But I think that my skin has changed over my lifetime. And now that I’m older, which is only a relative thing, I think my skin is drier, number one.
But how would I know which kind of soap to use on what kind of skin type?
LARRY PLESENT: Well, we have everything, hopefully, clearly marked out. And on our website, to help you do that, we have everything sorted by skin type in the shopping cart. Actually, we sort three different ways, which is like having three shopping carts in one, so you can sort by product type, product category or by skin type.
You’re absolutely right, Debra Lynn. Our bodies change so much, obviously, when we’re born, when we’re infants, we’re very different than when we we’re toddlers, very different than pre-teenagers or teenagers, young people, as we go through life, middle-aged, the various stage is there, and become, finally, respected elders in our community.
Our bodies change. And the products we need change.
So one of the main things to think about is the stringency, and the stringency is related to pore size. So people who have skin pores that are genetically very tiny will have less oily skin. People who have larger pores, like me from the Southern Mediterranean region, from my ancestry, and I have larger pores, darker skin, I tend to burn, I tend towards oily.
As I got older, that of course, faded away in my 20’s, and I began using products that were less astringent.
And so one way to adjust for stringency is essential oils. Some essential oils, like peppermint oil, very, very effective at closing down pores. So you’re hot, you’re sweaty, you need to cool down—peppermint oil soap will close those pores and dry you up.
But Debra, if you use that in, say, Vermont winter, where you’re taking that outside air and heating it up 50-degrees or more, and drying it out, you’ll find that a moisturizing bar, such as the butter bar for dry skin, is a really good way to go.
DEBRA: So it might depend on your environment, as well as on your skin type.
LARRY PLESENT: That’s right. Your age, what is going on around you—
DEBRA: Anybody might want to have a variety of different types of soap for different environmental conditions.
LARRY PLESENT: That’s right.
DEBRA: And that you would be aware of how your body is being affected by its environment.
LARRY PLESENT: That’s right. That’s exactly right. It’s part of your first aid kit, your non-toxic first aid kit for life’s little inconveniences.
DEBRA: I haven’t even really thought of that before, but I really like that and it makes sense that our bodies are interacting with the environment all the time, and the different things are going on, and that we’re usually not aware of it that people think that you buy one thing, and one product, and you figure it out, and that’s good forever.
But I can see that these different environmental conditions would cause your skin to need different kinds of buffers or different kinds of support. And I haven’t ever considered that.
As I’m saying that, I’m thinking, “Gee, that doesn’t sound very smart.” But I think it just has to do with—lack of education.
LARRY PLESENT: Well, mostly, they’re obvious once you see—it’s very obvious to you now. Now, you’re like, “How come I never saw that? I actually should have maybe something like a lemongrass for when I’m working outside, in that Florida weather.”
“But sometimes I feel dry or maybe I’m bathing a second time because I want to go out later. And I want something that’s not as astringent.”
And these are very simple. You’re not spending a lot of money. Vermont Soap products are incredibly inexpensive, plus we have a customer loyalty program. You can save 5% with every order. And we run specials.
We wanted to be affordable to live naturally. You shouldn’t have to be a Rockefeller to eat healthy and use healthy products. That just doesn’t make sense.
At Vermont Soap, we cut out the middleman, and you can go right to the factory.
DEBRA: It says that if you sign up for the newsletter that you can get specials for up to 50%. So it’s worth it to sign up for your newsletter, for people to sign up for your newsletter, and find out when they can get these specials.
The thing that I wanted to say is that in the past, until I just had this stroke of genius realization, what I would do is I would pick my soaps by what the ingredients were, like if they had goat’s milk in it, or something. But I’d also pick them on what kind of fragrance because It’s really wonderful for me to get up in the morning, and have a shot of peppermint in the soap.
And my favorite combination—
LARRY PLESENT: Well, you tend towards oily, so that makes perfect sense.
DEBRA: But I wasn’t doing it for oily skin. It was just that I like having peppermint.
LARRY PLESENT: But your body knows.
DEBRA: The body knows, yes.
LARRY PLESENT: Your body knows. So for example, let’s say I’m doing some demos or something like that, and I have different—say, we’re demoing bar soap products. And I go, “Well, I just want to show you, well, smell them.”
And I find that 9 out of 10 times, people are attracted to the scents that are proper for their skin type. And we’re talking about real essential oils. We’re not talking about fake-y fake scents.
DEBRA: So you’re putting real—I’m just assuming you’re putting real essential oils in your products.
LARRY PLESENT: Yes, it takes a room full of lavender to make a gallon of lavender oil. So that’s very concentrated.
DEBRA: And you also have unscented, if you want unscented ones.
LARRY PLESENT: Yes, that’s a big, big part of our business. And not only do we have unscented bar soaps, but we also have—our most popular liquid soap is unscented castile liquid soap. It’s very, very simple.
We also have a new zero VOC cleaner concentrate that’s coming up, I think, within two months, we’ll have it in the marketplace. We have the spray cleaner already, and the concentrate in gallon forms, coming up right behind it.
At Vermont Soap, we release new products about every three or four months, which is pretty unusual. It takes a lot to move a new product through the testing. Some products, we started working on nine, ten years ago, and now, they’re just now in the marketplace.
But we’ve moved into—as I’ve said, we started with bar soaps, and then liquid soap products, and many different kinds of liquid soap products. We also do organic oral care products, and some really very exciting anti-aging products—which my wife and I are using, by the way.
DEBRA: We’ll hear more about all these products when we come back from the break. You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. You can find out more about this show at ToxicFreeTalkRadio.com.
My guest today is Larry Plesent, founder of Vermont Soap, and he’s at VermontSoap.com. You can go to their website, and see all of the different products that they have, which we’re going to hear more about after the break.
DEBRA: I’m Debra Lynn Dadd, and you’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. My guest is Larry Plesent from Vermont Soap. And we’ve been talking about all of his organic soap and personal care products.
Larry, tell us more about some products that you haven’t told us about yet because you’ve got so many things on your website.
LARRY PLESENT: I’m a compulsive formulator. I can’t not formulate just like you can’t stop writing books.
DEBRA: I can’t stop writing books.
LARRY PLESENT: I’m working on my fourth, but you’ve got me topped with six, except you publish yours, and I just collect mine. But the one I’m working on now is the Handbook for the Reactive Body. I’ve got a good dent in that. So stay tuned. Maybe sometime in the next year, a year and a half—
DEBRA: Well, you know, Larry, when you’re ready to publish, I’m learning all about self-publishing and how to do it easily and inexpensively. And I’m about to have a lot more books because it’s now the tools are there for people to create really high quality books, and have the distribution be easy.
LARRY PLESENT: But the editor is the key—having a good editor is absolutely key.
DEBRA: I’m a great editor. I’d love to edit your books.
LARRY PLESENT: You edit my books, and I’ll edit your books.
DEBRA: Well, we’ll talk.
LARRY PLESENT: But that’s another show. I was thinking during the break that it’s really important to pass on very useful tidbits that people can use right now. If you’re listening to this show, you probably have a reactive body, whatever you’ve called it.
And by the way, having a reactive body will make your emotions more reactive. So it’s really important to remember that when you have a reactive body, when you’re exposed to your triggers, it’s like having body asthma. It’s like a body has a reaction, and then it’s a flare-up.
And it’s important to stop and go, “Okay, I’m having a flare-up. I’m having a flare-up.”
And then you’ve got to reach in your toolkit. And it’s very important that you learn things all around you that help reduce your symptoms during a flare-up because it’s very dangerous to be walking around all flared up. You might end up acquiring new reactive triggers because you’re in such a hyper-reactive phase.
DEBRA: Tell us some of the things because I do know that a lot of people with reactive bodies are listening to this show. So tell us some of the things that you’ve done that were successful.
LARRY PLESENT: Let me count the ways. Rule #1, fresh air, fresh water, and lots of it. So very often, my triggers, I walk in, and somebody says, “Oh, look. I’ve got this whole new computer system. Isn’t it great?”
And they just pulled it out of the crate, and it’s off-gassing all the plastic, and the mold releases—when plastic is released from a mold, there are mold releasers that some of that is still on the outside.
And I’m breathing all of that stuff, and I feel my knees start to buckle.
So the first thing I do, and I learned this from my friend, Jimmy Brown. God, I love you, Jimmy. Thank you for this one. Jimmy works with toxic stuff all day long. I said, “How is it you’re still alive?”
He says, “I practice not breathing.”
I said, “What?”
He said, “As soon as the slightest, that first molecule of scent enters in my nose, I stop breathing.”
He said, “I know I’ve got about 30, 40 seconds.” I know what I’m doing, and I leave the room.
I said, “Okay.”
So I practiced not breathing. That gives you a few seconds, and then leave the room. So you need lots of fresh air, and you need lots of fresh water.
Just as with regular asthma, if you have this “body asthma,” if you have a reactive body, drinking lots and lots of water will reduce your symptoms every time, right away—fresh air, fresh water.
DEBRA: And it needs to be pure water, so you’re not drinking water pollutants.
LARRY PLESENT: Yes. Don’t drink plastic water. For example, if I’m feeling reactive and I drink bottled water, it makes it worse because I’m triggered from all petroleum products. Plastic, plastic water, that’s all bad stuff.
Now, if you have to drink plastic water, drink the less expensive stuff in the #2 milk jug plastic, the ones that come in those gallon jugs. It costs about a tenth as much as the fancy bottle. That’s what you want. Get that stuff because #2 plastic is—we’ll use your phraseology—less less toxic than #1 plastic.
From my perspective, #1 plastic is the one that should be banned, not the bisphenol #7 carbonate plastic, which is rarely used. Rarely used.
But the most commonly used plastic is #1, and that is PET, which is made of phthalates, P-T-H, phthalates with PTH. P-H-T-H-L-A-T-E-S. So phthalates.
And phthalates are estrogen mimickers. If you want to be filled up with estrogen, and then just keep on doing it.
DEBRA: For people who don’t know, you can look at the bottom of the bottle, and it will tell you what the number is—these numbers that Larry is talking about, you can just look on the bottom of the bottle.
LARRY PLESENT: And I’ll give you a real good tip that was taught to me by a Ph.D. biologist who runs a cancer research laboratory. And what she told me was the more flexible the plastic, and the clearer the plastic, the more off-gassing. And the amazing thing about that is they’ll off-gas into oily stuff like butter, or oil like olive oil or something that’s in a plastic container.
It’ll off-gas into alcohol, if you get cheap vodka in a plastic container.
DEBRA: So you really want to watch out. That is a very big thing to watch out for plastic containers.
Now, tell us about plastic containers because I don’t want to put you on the spot here, but you have some plastic containers.
LARRY PLESENT: I use PET containers because natural soap, especially with essential oils, does something which is called in the industry, paneling, which means they dent in. It looks like they belong in a dented can discount store.
And so we originally came out in #2 plastic, and no one bought our stuff because they all looked dented. So we came back in #1.
I’m very comfortable with that.
DEBRA: So tell us why because—
LARRY PLESENT: The phthalates are not going through your skin and poisoning you. What’s that?
DEBRA: Other soaps use PET as well, and people ask me about this. They say, “Well, should I buy soap in PET containers?”
LARRY PLESENT: Yes, you’re fine. You’re not drinking it.
DEBRA: Tell us why.
LARRY PLESENT: You’re just fine. We have seen zero evidence of any kind that buying soap or shampoo or any other external use product in your plastic bottle is going to hurt you far, far, far more important if they get it out of the food and water supply. Far beyond.
Once we’ve gotten there, and we’d figured out a way to put liquid soap in—you bring your glass bottle to the co-op and fill it up, that would be ideal. But first, get it out of your insides. That’s so much more important than what we’re talking about here.
So we’ve never seen anything to indicate that there’s anything to worry about.
Would I prefer selling it in glass? I would, but guess what? It’s soap and water and glass and naked people standing around in bare feet, not a healthy combination.
DEBRA: Let me ask you this, because I know people have their attention on this. So you use these products, and you have a reactive body, and you haven’t seen any problem using PET bottles.
LARRY PLESENT: Oh, gosh, no.
DEBRA: Okay, good. That’s what I wanted to know.
LARRY PLESENT: No, not at all. And we look at plastics very much. We were using a—here’s an example, which is called the drum liners. This is like a big plastic bag that sits inside a 55-gallon drum. And we were concerned that the soap might interact with the metals from where they welded up the drum.
And so we wanted to put in the plastic bag. And we wanted to buy a good plastic bag that was environmentally sound. So we bought one with recycled materials.
It turned out, the recycled bags had formaldehyde. So somebody tested our soaps and said, “Your soap isn’t clean. There’s something wrong with it.”
And I said, “What’s wrong?”
They said, “There’s formaldehyde in it.”
And we traced it back to the bags. Isn’t that crazy? That’s crazy. So that was LDHPE, a low density polyethylene.
So we switched to a bag that contained only virgin material—not recycled material. And we tested, and we tested without formaldehyde.
Unfortunately, we lost a client. We lost a client.
DEBRA: So the recycled LDHPE had formaldehyde, but the virgin LDHPE did not.
LARRY PLESENT: Did not. It might have been the brand we’ve got, whatever it was, but that’s how it tested with our soap. I don’t want to make a broad statement about every LDHPE with recycled material. But the one we got did.
And there’s no way of knowing until after the fact.
So the principle—really, I was thinking, on my drive into work today, I’m thinking about this phone call. I said, “What’s the one thing I really want our audience to walk away with?” What’s the one thing? Maybe besides my website…
DEBRA: Yes, this is the time to say the one thing because you’ve got about a minute left.
LARRY PLESENT: Okay, this is it. Here’s a handy tip from the soap man, and you can always learn more and read my blogs at www.VermontSoap.com, now on our 21st year. That’s the pitch. But what I want to leave you with is that have everything that goes onto your body and into your body must be must be medicine.
Not only is it non-toxic, it’s got to be healing and good for you, and especially if you have a reactive body. If you have a reactive body, everything has to be optimized. Everything. You can’t just eat an apple. You have to eat a super apple.
You don’t just need those phytonutrients, you need super ones.
DEBRA: I totally agree with what you’re saying because the music is going to start any second now. And I just want to reiterate what you said about the things that you use need to be not only non-toxic, but healing, because most people think there’s toxic, and there’s not toxic. But then there’s this other whole group of…
Thank you so much for being with me on this show today. It’s been a great show. You’ve been listening to Larry Plesent of Vermont Natural Soap. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. This is Toxic Free Talk Radio.