These Artisan Soaps Wash Away Revealing a Keepsake that Symbolizes Recovery in the Gulf
By Erica Jordan
Like many manmade disasters, the recovery of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Disaster in the Gulf of Mexico remains ongoing. And in many ways, it has just begun. The third anniversary of this manmade disaster just passed, yet the first phase of BP’s trial ended in April of this year, with the second phase beginning this September.
As other disasters occur throughout the world, the 2010 BP oil spill has virtually lost all media attention, slipping from the minds of many of us who were not directly affected by the disaster. Thankfully, there are altruistic programs and projects that continue to spread awareness and to aid in the recovery. One such project comes in the form of small, black, bird-shaped soaps.
In September of 2010, designer Tippy Tippens moved from Brooklyn to New Orleans to help the relief efforts there. Just a few months later in November of 2010, the BirdProject was born on Kickstarter.
The fundraiser was a huge success and today the BirdProject donates fifty percent of the profits from each product to the Gulf Restoration Network and the International Bird Rescue. To date, the BirdProject has given more than 18,000USD to the recovery efforts.
The Gulf Restoration Network continues to protect, restore and raise awareness for the regions affected by the BP oil spill, while the International Bird Rescue cared for birds that were rescued in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and continues to rescue seabirds and other aquatic birds affected by oil spills around the world.
The soaps are made from natural and locally sourced ingredients that embody various aspects of Louisiana. Cypress, a local plant, is used to scent the soaps in hopes that it will evoke personal memories or connections to the Louisiana bayou. Glycerin, a byproduct of biodiesel, is used to promote the concept that there are positive ways to use manufacturing waste. Fair-trade olive oil, aloe and activated black charcoal promote sustainability and ensure a safe, moisturizing product that is healthy for skin.
As the soap is used, a white ceramic bird made of Louisiana clay reveals itself, acting as a keepsake and a reminder of the delicate cleansing process that goes into saving the birds. The color white symbolizes recovery. Both parts of these birds are made by local artisans; the soap by Emily Manger Davis of Sweet Olive Soap and the ceramic bird inside made by Brooke Cassady. The artisans are just two examples of the partnerships within the Louisiana community that work to create these symbols of hope.
Believing that all aspects of the business should reflect an “eco-happy” approach, care has been taken to use green options whenever possible. The gift boxes and tissue are made from 100 percent recycled paper and the notecards from 100 percent cotton with soy-based inks. The birds are even shipped using UPS’s crate to crate system, reflecting the BirdProject’s dedication to sustainable practices.
The BirdProject is the launch product of, Matter Inc. a company created to artfully aid society while fulfilling basic needs. Matter Inc. is one of the first of a growing number of members of the B Corps, an organization of companies that have been certified to be purpose driven and for public benefit. They are required to uphold standards of social and environmental responsibility in addition to accountability and transparency. In addition, Matter Inc’s founder, Tippy has been selected as one of the GOOD 100, a group of do-ers who are selected for their inspirational initiatives, which make a difference. Tippy has hinted on her website that there are five new products being introduced in 2013, so stay tuned to see what causes she is taking on next and what products she will design to represent them.
Erica Jordan obtained a degree in biology and worked in the pharmaceutical industry before getting addicted to travel. She has since traveled extensively while teaching English in Japan, written a grammar textbook and sailed around the world as an interpreter and translator. Some of her interests include sustainability, modern art and hunting down cozy cafes. You can read about her adventures on Kizzling Around or connect with her on twitter @Kizzling Around.
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