Soap maker touts eco-friendly products

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  • Sarah Harding poses with her Montana-made soaps in her home office in Whitefish. Harding began with the Grizzly Bar and the Black Bar, and was then inspired to create Mother Nature’s Shampoo Bar to reduce the use of products packaged in plastic. (Brenda Ahearn photos/Daily Inter Lake)

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    The Black Bar, Grizzly Bar and Mother Nature’s Shampoo Bar can be purchased locally at Station 8, Montana Coffee Traders, Third Street Market, Mountain Valley Foods, Izaak Walton Inn, Eddie’s Cafe, Salt Box, Scout and Gather, and the Glacier Park International Airport gift shop. They can also be ordered online at coconutatsea.com.

  • Sarah Harding poses with her Montana-made soaps in her home office in Whitefish. Harding began with the Grizzly Bar and the Black Bar, and was then inspired to create Mother Nature’s Shampoo Bar to reduce the use of products packaged in plastic. (Brenda Ahearn photos/Daily Inter Lake)

  • 1

    The Black Bar, Grizzly Bar and Mother Nature’s Shampoo Bar can be purchased locally at Station 8, Montana Coffee Traders, Third Street Market, Mountain Valley Foods, Izaak Walton Inn, Eddie’s Cafe, Salt Box, Scout and Gather, and the Glacier Park International Airport gift shop. They can also be ordered online at coconutatsea.com.

Coconut at Sea Soap Co. founder Sarah Harding of Whitefish has a simple philosophy about her new eco-friendly business: “We help people get clean without mucking up the planet.”

Harding recently began creating and selling unique soap and shampoo products in the form of bars, rather than encased in bottles. According to Harding, these zero waste, environmentally friendly products prevent further contribution to the 552 million shampoo bottles thrown away each year.

Harding said she’s has been on the “green path” since her youth, always recycling, frequenting her local thrift stores, and even growing a portion of her food. Her prime inspiration for the company, however, came with a recent trip to Indonesia. As she stood atop picturesque mountains overlooking expansive beaches and sea water, Harding explained, the beautiful site in front of her became extremely sad. What stood out to her more than the white sand and turquoise water was the plastic that washed up with the waves and took over the beach.

“It broke my heart,” Harding expressed. And that was when she knew she wanted to do more, adding, “I need to look my kids in the eye and say I did everything I could to preserve this planet.” Shortly after she returned, Coconut at Sea was born.

Taking advantage of the soap bar design, Harding first began making products for her family and friends to eliminate the need to buy shampoo bottled in plastic. As she witnessed one positive reaction after another, the idea to expand her reaches took seed. Now, Coconut at Sea products are sold at a variety of stores across the Flathead Valley, including Station 8, Mountain Valley Foods and Montana Coffee Traders. Each 4-ounce bar comes in a recycled cardboard box,and soap is shipped in plastic-free recycled cardboard.

Harding likes the design for several reasons, the first being the eco-friendly aspect, but also because the bars last an estimated three times as long as bottled shampoo and are easy to travel with. She explains that because the bars are concentrated into a solid, the customers don’t waste space paying for water that they can easily add themselves.

Recycling is great, Harding said, but only one valley recycling company accepts plastics (Valley Recycling, Kalispell), and of the seven types, only No. 1 and No. 2 plastic is accepted. Many shampoo bottles, unfortunately, do not fit those conditions.

Reducing plastic waste via Coconut at Sea Soap Co. is Harding’s part in creating a sustainable future for her two children. Her goal is to encourage families like her own to make small changes, converting from plastic bottles to bars, for example, that combined have an immense impact.

“If every household replaced one shampoo bottle with a shampoo bar, we would save 122 million plastic bottles,” she said, elaborating that if consumers show more concern for how their purchases affect the environment, companies will follow suit. If her company makes enough of a profit, Harding wishes to donate a portion of the profit to organizations that clean up our earth.

Harding’s company, Coconut at Sea, is named somewhat after herself. She wishes to be a coconut of change, landing on an island, taking root, growing tall and finally dropping seeds to float away and insert their influence elsewhere. After all, it’s coconuts that belong in the turquoise ocean, ready to wash up on shore, not plastic bottles.

For more information about Coconut at Sea Soap Co. is available at www.coconutatsea.com,or call 406-260-1215.

Reporter Katie Lessmeier may be reached at klessmeier@dailyinterlake.com.

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