Last week local Castro Valley gardeners, Eugene Shabelyanau and Danny Galindo, taught us about incorporating native plant landscaping into our yards. But did their contribution to creating a sustainable community for Castro Valley stay in their garden?
They have taken their stewardship role to new heights by starting a blooming soapmaking business, SoapGeek! Inspired by not only the diverse bounty of beautiful herbs and flowers flourishing in their yard, but being able to reduce waste from commercial soap was a huge plus for them.
“Sustainability and being environmentally friendly are at the core of our life principles.” Danny says, “making soap became a passion and small business of ours once we realized how much plastic bottles are saved just by switching to bar soap.”
What’s the deal with soap?
Soap forms when an oil, such as coconut, olive, or palm, is mixed with a base. The soap molecules have the unique ability to interact with both water and grease particles, scooping them up, and washing them away. This same process is how soap can destroy viruses and bacteria: when you’re washing your hands, soap is able to dissolve the weak fatty membrane surrounding the virus particles, destroying the virus-cell, and carrying the debris down the drain with water.
Not only does the inherent cleansing properties of soap help keep us healthy, but SoapGeek’s handmade soaps also are gentle on the skin and provide a rich source of botanical ingredients and medicinal benefits.
“I enjoy doing research on medicinal use of different herbs and how it can apply to skincare. My research includes both traditional (ie western medicine) as well as indigenous use of the herb.” Eugene writes “White Sage, for example, is a spiritual herb. It has been used by Native Americans to ward off bad spirits and cleanse/purify the area. Calendula on the other hand, is one of the greatest herbs for skincare due to its properties. Lavender is everyone’s favorite because it smells great and is calming.”
And what about those enticing smells that make it hard to leave the shower?
For example, the “Absinthe” soap bar containing pulverized dried wormwood herb, and myrtle, sweet anise, wormwood, and petitgrain essential oils, makes you feel like your swimming in a sensory cocktail!
When asked where he gets the inspiration for these intoxicating fragrances, Eugene claims,
“this could be a topic for a book! Scent is such a complex topic. There is a base, middle and upper scent notes and finding a balance between these three can be quiet a task! I search a lot of ideas in books, online, read others notes on mixing scents and follow couple specialty online forums.”
SoapGeek’s growth has offered Danny and Eugene the opportunity to meet many interesting folks at pop-up events, teach people about sustainable living practices, and learn more about gardening. To say the least, they have developed deep roots in the Castro Valley community!
For Eugene this business has allowed him to tap into his artistic side:
“Developing a recipe, thinking of its design, what herbs to add, how to scent it accordingly, make the label - this is all a process that takes time and is the most enjoyable to me.”