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Stevi’s Blog: Can we solve the plastic problem?

Why is Sustainability so important to TCSF

Many companies brag about their environmental credentials, shout about sustainability and generally parade their eco-credentials to the world. Some are genuine, but sadly just as many use the buzzwords as a way of pulling business in, paying lip service for marketing reasons.

I am asked frequently why I started The Camel Soap Factory. I had my first child very late in life. Delivered when I was 47 years, my daughter put me in the ‘geriatric mum’ category. Having worked in corporates and a few SME’s, I knew after she was born that I couldn’t go back to a work environment that I was not in charge of and that I could not control my time in. I also wanted to set a very positive role model for her as she grew up. But I was also terrified of bringing a child into a world increasingly polluted by chemicals and our modern lifestyle.

I spotted an opportunity in the UAE to develop a product that could be manufactured in the UAE and more importantly use local ingredients. This was a significant challenge in the harsh unyielding conditions of the UAE landscape. I also knew that I didn’t want to produce anything that might harm my daughter’s future. Of course, I wanted the company to be successful and profitable, but I realized that I also wanted her to be proud of me. I wanted her to know that what I was doing was helping protect the planet for her and her own children one day.

But manufacturing is dirty business. Finding a manufacturer for my as yet unmade camel milk soaps proved difficult. The big manufacturers need huge minimum order quantities and produce products that really need a lot of chemicals in order to be the right colour, have the right hardness, to foam the right way. I wanted a product that I could use on my baby daughter’s skin from day one. So…. I learned how soaps were made by those who had been making them for centuries in countries like the Lebanon, Syria and Palestine. I learned that these gentle products could be made using ingredients that were available in any kitchen. Beautiful green olive oils, soft white shea butters, creamy coconut oils.

With careful planning, I learned that these products could be made with very little waste. That I didn’t need to use vast reserves of electricity and, more importantly, in a land where water was very precious, use very little water. And so The Camel Soap Factory was born.

We are proud of the fact that our factory uses less electricity than an average villa in Dubai. We use less water than an office with a similar amount of workers in it. We try to use oils and fragrances that have been made by businesses like ourselves who also care about the environment. Our packaging is 99% reusable or recyclable.

We have learned that we do have to compromise sometimes. Health and safety is taken seriously in our part of the world and we are forced to use some shrinkwrap on our products. But we try and look at the big picture. And for every product I ask the question, will my daughter look back in 50 years time and be proud of her mother’s achievements?


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