Lately, I've been caught up on consumption — which isn't a great place to be as a producer of things for others to consume. We went to the beach for a few days, and I taught my two-year-old to collect plastics littered on the sand. I cringed at each single use plastic drink container, and I counted the paper french fry 'buckets' that piled up in the trash. Even the sunscreen tubes or sticks or cans made me wince. Noticing consumption isn't new for me, but it's rarely been this bothersome to me. Blame wildfires or floods or simple mounting existential dread, but I've been struggling, honestly, to see how to fit into this world without killing it.
This poses a challenge for existing without a constant overlay of anxiety. And yet, as I walked into our store when we returned home, I felt weight slough off my shoulders. Here, stuff isn't stuff. It's made by human hands in our workshop, or by our friends. The materials are simple and lasting, and if it isn't local, it's old.
What we surround ourselves with is intentionally not disposable. These goods will outlast us not because they are refusing to rot in a landfill, but because they have the potential to serve for generations to come.
But what about what comes before the final product? Ingredient and material sourcing is tricky, and we wrestle with how far upriver to go. Where we've landed is, "as far as we can take it." So no, we can't produce our own raw brass nor light sockets nor clay. But we can mix glazes, source vintage shades for restored pendants, restrict leather to American tannery's using US-raised hides, and, now, make our own tallow with the help of farms just a few miles down the road.
The development of our new line of soaps, the first of which is available now, was perhaps our most agonized over exercise in local production to date. After learning a little about the history of tallow-based soaps, we embarked on a journey to produce our own tallow soaps, rendering the tallow ourselves from grass-fed and grass-finished beef suet from cattle raised by Hover Farm and Gulden Farm, both in Germantown, New York and only a five-minute drive from us.
We've just released the first of these new soaps, a 100% pure tallow soap with no fragrance and only three simple ingredients: Grass-Fed Tallow, Lye, and Water.
This soap is the epitome of old school. It's soap how it used to be made — no frills, all function — and we love it alongside your kitchen sink. It's also extremely sustainable, and has minimal biodegradable packaging. And that makes me breathe better.
In the coming months and in the lead up to the holidays, we'll be releasing a few other tallow-based soaps that also incorporate locally-grown sunflower oil and locally-grown botanicals — successful testing willing.
Basically, we want to do the best we can. We want to make things that last and, for the things (like soap) that don't, we want them to treat the earth kindly. For us, this is an evolving process with ever-moving goal posts. And so, we do our best.
Shop our care products featuring 100% local ingredients here.