Saving Our Planet One Bar at a Time From Coconut At Sea Soap Company | Constructive Holiday Climate Conversations with Sarah Harding Whitefish, MT

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Sarah Harding from Coconut at Sea Soap Co.

Friday, November 22, 2019

I’m super excited and last time she shared a ton of golden seeds with listeners and she’s kind of changed directions so here she’s here to tell us about her new venture the Coconut at Sea Soap Company.

We grew up in North County San Diego. We spent our childhood lives loving the ocean and surfing.

We moved to Montana when we were 22 and spent the second half of our lives farming, fishing, and raising a family.

Now we’re Coconut at Sea Soap Company.

A family business committed to giving our all in everything we do. We make soap because we want to save the planet

We love the ocean. We love the mountains.

Seeing plastic clogging up our reefs and blowing across farm fields broke our hearts.

So we decided to reduce single-use plastics. Bar soap and shampoo bars are an easy switch toward our goal of plastic-free showers.

And we know gardeners are always getting dirty! Welcome Sarah McPhearson, Sarah Harding?

McPhearson is my maiden name.

You’re in Whitefish where I got a job this year and I feel so excited about this because this week we are talking about saving the animals in Wonders McGraw-Hill we’re reading Kids to the Rescue about saving turtles and manatees. And we did a puppet show called the Turtle Mishap about a turtle who get’s stuck in a plastic six pack holder.

Tell us a little about yourself.

It’s kind of a long story. When I last talked to you, we were farming full mite growing asparagus, microgreens, cut flowers, it just got the word I think of most is relentless

Relentless

Elizabeth Gilbert when she talks about jobs, that every job has a poop sandwich and you have to be willing to eat the poop sandwich that comes along with that job. And we just we got tired of the poop sandwich that came with farming. The relentless with it, we were growing microgreens year round, and how we never got a break and how we never got to spend quality chunks of time with our kids

  • sold our micrograms
  • leased the asparagus field out
  • I still do cut flowers, because after all they’re beautiful!

And then I kind of flopped around for a few years. And we were on a family vacation, with my husband and his two brothers, and we were on vacation in Indonesia and we would pull up to this amazing island!

  • on a boat
  • dreamy
  • white sand
  • little spit in the middle of the indian ocean
  • with coconut palms

just heaven!

And we would get off the boat and swim into the shore and it was covered in plastic! Plastic of every thing you can imagine! and it was heartbreaking I mean it just broke my heart and I got back on the boat and I was talking to my sister-in-law and she was like but

what can we do?

I said

We can do better

We can use less plastic!

We might not be able to save Indonesia because we’re not Indonesian

and soap making this was a skill I already had so I said

I’ll make shampoo bars

For some reason shampoo bottles on the forefront of my mind, I think maybe I saw one in Indonesia. So I did, I came home and John suggested I make some soaps that visitors to Montana would like.

We came up with

black bar

grizzly bar

shampoo bar, just for myself and maybe some of my crunchy friends.

I called it Mother’s Nature’s Shampoo Bar

I made it sort of as a joke because that’s what my mother calls me sometimes, Mother Nature

I put one of those jokey things on the label but then people got excited about it!

The shampoo bar, I’m actually trying to make other scents and then really trying to figure out how to make an all natural conditioner without using basically chemicals because the shampoo bar we make is all natural

  • oils
  • essential oils
  • rosemary extract
  • and then it’s saponified into this beautiful lathery hard bar that lasts a long time, but works really well.

So where does the coconut come in? Is it made of coconut butter? Or is it because your story was inspired by the coconut palm trees?

Kind of all 3.

  • it does have coconut oil in it
  • it was in a tropical place that I was inspired to start the company
  • many years ago when I was in a my 20s, a friend told me I was like a coconut drifting at sea

I think it wasn’t a compliment like I was unrooted and just drifting, floating where the sea took me, but since then I’ve taken it as a complement, because that’s kind of what coconuts do, they get put out sea, they float around, land on an island, sprout into a palm,  make more coconuts that float out to see…

So I am kind of trying to reframe it as spreading the good!

I am so fascinated in this because I am so curious about the whole coconut craze, so many people are into coconut oil, what is the footprint on coconut since they don’t grow in Montana, but what did I grow up on, olive oil from Italy they don’t grow in Montana and then also my new favorite is avocado oil, which also doesn’t grow in Montana and then is the coconut actually the seed?

yeah! exactly, it sprouts into a palm, the the coconut is the seed and it sprouts a coconut.

But I just asked my friend Dacia who’s been making soap for years up here, you walk into her house and it smells so good, but just the other day i asked her do you make a shampoo?

I love your labels, and they are labeled with a bear.

It’s kind of a double meaning from my dad used to sing me Davy Crocket song

“Raised in the woods so he knew ev’ry tree

Kilt him a bar when he was only three”

basically

I love how your so honest about the poop sandwich part of farming.

I’m also excited because Patti Armbrister is so big on growing cover crops seeds, because they are like flowers. I was dreaming about growing sunflowers for bird seed but I have a feeling you have to be growing on big acreage for that to be profitable.

And Elizabeth Gilbert talks a lot about not putting that pressure on your creativity. I have read Big Magic a bunch it’s one of the books I have read over and over and actually have on Audible to listen to.

I wanted to be able to farming and gardening again didn’t feel so much pressure

she does talk about that

Another part of my journey is accepting the way I am

farming was my dream for a pretty long time, working toward farming or farming for a long time. Accepting that I am not the kind of person who sticks with one thing, because our society puts a lot of pressure on people.

I can totally agree.

yeah! it’s ok, that we’re multi passionate, that we have a lot of different interest for 62 years or jobs and bringing skills form the past

innovative

creative in our new jobs

big piece of my own personal work

ok that I’ve had 62 different jobs

flakey

flighty

I feel like being in 3rd grade this year, that being all those years in pre-k, kindergarten, first grade,

Just looking at like I was working on my website and I’m like wow cuz they’re so interested in somebody I brought in this typewriter this all the typewriter for one of my students corners and iPads and the other corners and like they’re all and they’re like if we could just only have an old typewriter!

which are super expensive !

that is so awesome!!

I love that technology sitting right there with you

What we can do with this go to Google Docs login and I spend so much time logging in and we’re switching Centers before they ever get to type more than like one word I mean the third graders have got to learn it like I’m hoping by the end of the semester like it’s finally starting to click in the you know some things like pages worth of documents this week so we’re 12 weeks in the school but they’ve been struggling really hard just to get logged in like it is not the easiest thing, and our iPads are so old we can’t go to Google Drive that’s how old they are Google Classroom we can access they can access Google docs so anyway but yeah I was so cute that they were like my old typewriter and they’re all jealous cuz I only really was letting like one kid at a time to really tyoung for it might be some used ones out there for like a new Portable typewriter is like $175 was like the cheapest one I could find out I was like holy cow!

That’s really seems backwards

We’re totally off topic here, so tell us about whatever you want to talk about.

Well here’s what’s interesting about my new company is that I don’t actually spend much of my time like selling soap ~ which is really fun because I don’t know that I would actually be that good at you know …selling soap!

What I’ve been spending my time on is writing articles for Montana Woman Magazine, I gave a talk at a plastics symposium, a presentation that on Plastics and what we can do is consumers and how are the most important thing that we can be doing right now is

talking about it and having these like really potentially uncomfortable conversations with our friends and family!

Because you know there’s this is climate crises happening and people aren’t talking about it and so we’re all just in the keep calm and carry on phase of this emergency !

and we need to be panicking a little bit more right now because

I love all of this and that’s how we are talking right now because you shared your article on Facebook and I was like Sarah you have to come back on the show and talk about this!

and that one was really that one takes my rights I’m so curious

So I was researching you know like watching TED talks and reading books and I went to a workshop and you know I just was feeling really confident and really prepared like oh my gosh I can write this article and it’s going to be educational and inspiring and informative!

And then I went to kind of like a family reunion and eightieth birthday party for my uncle and my another family member totally cornered me and confronted me and was using all of these anti-climate talking points and I did not use any of the things that I had learned and I just like literally froze and turned red and like I couldn’t get any words out of my mouth

and was like stammering like trying to clear up the 8-year know the world’s not going to end in 8 years that’s when you know the time that the ipcc you’re not

so I was very ineffective! But it taught me like this is not as easy as you were about to make its out in this article!

This is actually a really difficult thing that you’re asking people to do!

Then of course I went back and I did more research on listening and empathy and how to have a discussion and you know what TED talks on debates and you know the differences between liberal views and conservative views and our values and I really just dug a lot deeper.

Then at my really article changed, it became much more about listening and feeling empathy and connecting on a personal level with that person rather than just talking to them as if I was talking in the mirror to somebody who already believed exactly like I do.

So I think it turned out a lot better because I got my but kicked!

I’m so glad we’re doing this, I hope I can get it out before next weekend with Thanksgiving coming up I think this is so important because we’re all super passionate about it! Tat’s what I love about my audience that I love about my podcast but yeah you get out in the world specially where I live like and that’s what I wasn’t sure about the school that I went you because you don’t wear in a very diverse Community wear like a lot of my kids parents work in the oil rig site at least two families do you know Dad’s gone much of the month of the timer over in North Dakota working on the oil fields and this week we’re talking about

I’m like well you know the article is all about apoquel spell and I’m like and besides that you guys realize every time you pick up at 5 take for core plastic spoon that’s made out of I was saying you know I was cut my six-pack holders up but I was like I hardly ever by six-pack holders but yeah I know but I was glad to hear you said and just you know what I think Forward Thinking Progressive Progressive should be you know environmentalist type of community but I know also like Ryan Zinke came from there and he practically destroyed our EPA who is our Congressman right hardcore Republican choices

The fact that climate change has become a partisan issue just really makes me feel kind of sick because it’s like oil companies got a hold of it and started an anti climate campaign to make more money!

That is really a big last question that all of us face I’m changing the subject but I like how we make our livings you know like is how we make our living connects help the earth or hurt the earth and for me there’s no question that’s that’s why I’m you not rich is because most of the professions that make a lot of money on fortunately our wreck doing a lot of damage to our planet! Ethically, there’s no question that I could never do.

My husband talks about that a that a lot ~ he’s always saying all the jobs I had that brought in a ton of money like as a logger as he used to work in the oil rigs in Colorado back when he was a pup, just planting trees  and then are growing my garden you know and I’m trying to like you don’t make a living sustainably has always been about so that’s part of why he has the dream of building a concrete house or whatever it is

I’m glad that you’re talking to your kids in your classes about Plastics!

in about an hour just even the fact that they didn’t know that plastic was made from petroleum is just now that opens their eyes and now they’re seeing what everything that’s made of plastic maybe hoping I’m hoping that they’ll see that they have a choice to use less plastic

I’m glad we’re in a building that recycles and it’s very conscious you see a lot of kids like that they’re bringing like snacking grocery sack so you know their parents are using them and just stuck also think like there’s a huge like you know this is what I love about podcasting and I know there’s so much about Mark Zuckerberg but I love about Facebook is like connecting with Robin Kelson and Laura Behenna other people in the Flathead

I wish I could go to those climate-smart meetings like I just feel like there’s there’s more conversation the most places in the country and I’m glad to see that these Solutions are coming up!

Yeah Robin Kelson is my hero she is so amazing she just has been so supportive of me and my business and she’s just doing so much good work!

Tell listeners where they can order it online!

Yes I learned how to build a website.

Wait you were going to tell us some tips for like how we can have those conversations!

The number one thing I 

we interrupt you before we get to where they get yourself toilet like right yeah well then said something about empathy and listening but like you have any extra steps of what to do when somebody starts spouting like false what’s the fake news

Step One BREATHE

The number one thing that I’d wish I’d done was breathed like I’m pretty sure I didn’t breathe for like 15 minutes they’re literally just focusing on my like deep call me back to let my brain know that I’m not in spider flight that this is not actually physically dangerous to me and that I can calm down and then might higher motor functions will start working again and I’ll be able to find words!

Step Two: LISTEN

Then listen like really listen to try to get curious about not in like a snarky way level where’d you hear that but kind of like really honestly like where did you where did you learn that? How can I find out more? Like tell me more about what this is that you believe and connecting with them and really listening?

I mean the goal would be that by showing respect for them and their viewpoint you maybe at some point you would get a chance to be able to tell your story

Step Three: Know Your Climate STORY

That brings me to the other point of you need to be able to know your climate story. In the article I go over some kind of like writing prompts that you can use to uncover your on a sort of like how climate change has affected you and your family.

It enables you to express your feeling about it you know your vision for the future like all of these things that then you can share from the heart.

From this person instead of like you know starting facts and figures and engaging in like a horn swapped kind of debate you’re saying we’ll here was my experience and it broke my heart to see these beaches covered in plastic and the coral reefs dying and you know etcetera and then you know just leave them with love.

Like Pema Chodron is a Buddhist nun I’m sure you’re probably familiar with her.

No, I don’t think so…

Oh well your in for a treat! Her name is Pema and her second name is Chodron and she is a Buddhist nun. She’s written quite a few books ~ she just has this like knack for explaining The Human Experience in just this beautiful heart melting but really real way.

So she has this kind of like Mantra that has  been helpful to me when I’m watching people and I’m starting to feel a little bit judgy.

I can say just like me

So just like me this person wants to be left just like me this person is feeling afraid or just like me this person loves their children just like me this person wants to belong…

It really is like you’re able to connect with that person on a really human level instead of getting lost in the politics or the catch phrases  of climate change and get to the core of who we are as human beings.

I think listeners are really going to love this especially like when you to go to the farmers market and are Market farmers and maybe have some customers come up. I’m just picturing my customers coming up and they have a friend with them who’s like you don’t need to buy that, why are you buying that?

I’m sure those conversations happen I’m sure I’ve been places where the conversation this is great for giving people talking points and ways to breathe.

One of my students once gave me a breathe sticker, I put it on my guitar.

How lucky for you, you finally found like a way to share your passions and connect and and do these things by writing is so true though that it’s all got to start with conversations and people talking and remembering how to be respectful listeners

And finding the common ground, and starting from there

I always say I’m everybody’s favorite Democrat, because I live in a very Republican world, and I say that as they glare at me how dare you speak such blasphemy in our logging town!

At this point, everything I’m doing is volunteer you know like I’m just trying to luckily if you know John supports us with the composting toilet business so I’m able to just spend a lot of time.

Advanced Composting Systems

My husband works right across the street from our house and they build and composting toilets and so it’s Advanced Composting Systems and they manufacture the Phoenix composting toilet and so if your listeners if you have all used National and State Parks you’ve probably used one of the Phoenix  composting toilets. I mean they are in the grand Canyon, John  just got back from Havasupai are there in Missouri in Ohio and Oregon then even you know at the top of Mauna Kea Volcanoes National Park

They are a really great solution for national parks because you can have humans a lot of humans visiting and so then they are human ways to deal with it but they can’t put in a septic system so it’s a commercial composting toilet that actually works!

They don’t have to, what the Havasupai reservation was doing before they started installing the composting toilets was they were helicoptering porta potties in and out of the bottom of the canyon which sounds like a nightmare.

I’m a huge one for using those kind of bathrooms. I’m always finding myself in those kind of yeah we’re about doors and in public bathroom sometimes I think that I missed my calling I should have been like a women’s bathroom designer because sometimes they drive me crazy but we have some of the nicest bathrooms and they’re usually well stocked with toilet paper and just their queen and I got to say about the state we’re really lucky that way despite our millions of visitors worth doing

I think you are also doing a a good job keeping them up awesome

and I think it’s great that you’re talking about weeds that listeners can learn to build an audience and and get their word out there and help you know yeah I mean really takes quite a bit of Bravery to be able to half the conversations and also just to let you know every time I send in a new article I have that moment of like oh my gosh what am I doing ?

because there’s the fear there of what’s the push back you know and and every time I get I press send I’m like what what am I going to get from this so?

Tell listeners where you got a soap ball where do you make it a shampoo bar?

or you’re working out of shampoo bar where they probably sign up to get an email when the shampoo bars ready well actually see.

The shampoo bar is ready I’m working on the conditioner bar and also I’m working on you no more bulk buying kind of options so that you could buy you could only have one shipment instead of buying one bar in time just to save resources !

I’m sure that’s a great idea yeah in my next my next batch will definitely have package free options you know just they’re naked bars and no box No Label no nothing just the soap so that you don’t have to waste any trees or resources or plastic

These would make great stocking stuffers and great gifts and probably like if people want you can ship them directly to people oh yeah if you get them.

Coconut at Sea Soap Co. that’s right

I do have a Facebook page and I am on in instagram, infrequently.

That’s one of my one of my goals is to start getting better at making calls even starting to put stuff on Pinterest because I think that would be a good fit

I heard someone say is one of the biggest search engines and I was like well but I think they mentioned as I constantly get emails from this woman Angie Gensler who I don’t know I don’t know if she’s like make sure you have my Affiliates hooked up.

I don’t have my let me tell you if you want a great deal on a social media calendar it was worth every penny I paid for it even though I haven’t used yet like it’s totally worth it. She has a calendar plus she even has liked photos that you can like edit for every day of the year

It’s like I think the calendars like 25 bucks and the whole package with the photos is like 30 bucks you can you open up in Google Docs and you just like click on texting you just type your text over like you know Monday she’ll be like sugar and expert app and like Tuesday sure quote and then Wednesday promoted project prop promote a product and then Thursday and Sunday like she tells you where every day they are all the holidays plugged in and his show worth it in like you might be interested in that or listeners might be interested in that and I do not  have my I think it’s cheap but yeah we all struggle with that social media piece but if i just open up my email its right there:

Angie Gensler 2020 Content Calendar Affiliate Link

Angie Gensler. Her social media calendar is worth every penny!

Jackie you have got to get your affiliate link hooked up because we all want to buy through years so that we can support right!

IDK how many of my interested in that kind of thing that would make it so much more doable because that’s what happens you know you get the blank screen send syndrome you sit down and your staring at a blank screen with no creativity left.

Yeah, if you have her calendar you look ahead, because all of a sudden it will be Saint Patrick’s Day and you think I should have had a something where is like if you have her calendar and like I print it out you know the calendars for the whole year the PDFs for January so you can look ahead and then I know one of these days I’m going to get it in place!

But we want to promote Coconut at Sea Soap Co that is helping us get clean and not throw plastic out on our planet which is just you know I just feel like I see more and more like the other day I saw the picture with the turtle and the like 45 pieces of plastic that they pulled out of its poor little fellow you know that we can do you know.

A lot of people already do the water bottle and the coffee cup then you know a lot of them but there’s there’s others to in the end if we’re just always on the lookout for ways that we can use wraps classic I think if millions of us started doing that it would really make a difference

Absolutely it will let you go and thank you so much for sharing with us today and inspiring everybody and everything that you do and your sweet family!

Thanks Hopefully I will see you in person I will at least one of these days, at Free The Seeds!

Yes thank you so much for having me and and thank you to all listeners for tuning in giving us your time.

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