A few years ago we were lucky enough to spend two weeks in Borneo. After visiting Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary in Sandakan and becoming acquainted with these wonderful creatures and their plight, we made our way to the other side of Sabah. We decided to drive, instead of flying. The drive took 6 hours. 6 hours through lush, green, landscape. Unfortunately, it was the wrong kind of landscape. Where years ago there was rainforest, with tall sweeping trees and abundant life, now there are manicured, polished fields of palm oil trees, and they stretch as far as the eye can see.
The prettiness of the view hides the terrible reality of the exploitation of the palm oil industry and its tragic consequences on our planet. The orangutans are only one of the species that have been victim to the deforestation. Seeing this with our own eyes was quite traumatic, and pushed us to try and live a ‘palm oil free’ life as much as we can. This is how Monkey Leaf was born. Making palm oil free soaps is not only possible, but it is also fun. We love making natural pods of goodness, using oils and butters and no additives, colours, salts, parabens. The soaps are only tested on us, our family and friends. We make them with our sensitive skin in mind, so that they moisturise and cleanse gently but deeply.
Our soaps are made them in our home, using rainwater and home made wooden soap moulds. Gas and electricity are from renewable sources. We cut and wrap them individually by hand, that is why you will notice sometimes they are not straight – cut, and have irregular sides. Some might have a thin white ‘skin’, which is called ‘ash’ This occurs often in cold process making and has no effect on the quality of the soap. It will wash off at first use. Rather than cutting it off, we leave the soaps as they come out of the mould, without handling them too much.
Once the curing process is finished, we wrap them using recycled and up cycled materials. Coffee hessian and vintage fabrics which were left to us. Look out for 1970s Habitat and Laura Ashley and find out on the right how you can keep re-using them! Rather than throwing these away, we make pretty wrappings. Our coffee hessians had been kindly donated by delicious coffee company Ethiopian Coffe Company.
We hope people enjoy using our soaps as much as we do.
All profits go to UK Orangutans charities, so that they can continue their work towards saving the species from extinction.