Handmade | Natural | Body Care Products

Category: Soap

Why you should buy native ingredients from Aboriginal owned businesses – Part 1

Why buy native ingredients from Aboriginal owned businesses?

Why buy native ingredients from Aboriginal owned businesses? There are a number of important reasons why you should buy native ingredients and botanicals from Aboriginal owned businesses!

While there are some very practical reasons (which we will cover in Part 2) for buying from Aboriginal owned businesses who use native ingredients and botanicals. In this blog post we will focus on some of the philosophical and ethical reasons for making conscious purchases of native botanicals.

For many years now, Aboriginal people have received a limited share of the world’s interest in our native foods and botanicals through the native foods and botanicals industry. This is especially true of the skincare and beauty sector where native botanicals appear in many products developed by businesses not owned by Aboriginal people.

Buying from Aboriginal owned businesses and buying Aboriginal owned brands supports Aboriginal people, families and communities. It allows Aboriginal people the opportunity to create economic independence through the use of our traditional native foods and botanicals.

Why buy native ingredients from Aboriginal owned businesses?

Macadamia is an Australian native ingredient which has a global market and is grown around the world.

Why buy native ingredients from Aboriginal owned businesses?

You see, over the last 70,000+ years we shaped the landscape through our activities, we learnt, we discovered, and we used native plants as our food-source and our medicines. This knowledge and use of these plants became part of our culture and our lore. Ceremonies were conducted to ensure plentiful supply of these plants and we managed and respected ‘country’ to ensure this supply.

When you understand our cultural connection to these foods and botanicals over thousands of years, you get a sense of just how special our connection is. We wouldn’t be here without them! This is our birthright as Aboriginal people to be able to use these plants and connect to our culture.

Through the process of colonisation, people used and documented our knowledge of our botanicals for their personal use or to develop businesses. An example is the Macadamia, a traditional food of Aboriginal people in north Queensland.Tthis food was appropriated for commercial production in the 1880’s when Australian seeds were planted in Hawaii. Hawaii was one of the biggest growers of Macadamia outside Australia, buy over the last decade South Africa is now the biggest producer of macadamia in the world.

In more recent times, the incorporation of our botanicals into beauty products has exploded across global markets, with small businesses and global corporates all vying for the next Australian botanical to use in their products. These businesses effectively dominate the market, taking most of the available pie leaving Aboriginal owned business with the pie crumbs. This is mainly because much of our involvement in the sector is as the suppliers of the raw ingredients – the actual plants or seeds.

Many of these non-Aboriginal businesses incorporating our botanicals into their products have removed our connection to them. The ingredients incorporated into their products are now just that, an ingredient to include into their beauty products with some nice properties to market. They have no tangible connection to us (apart from our inherent cultural connection) and that is problematic. Because the one thing these products do, is compete with our businesses and make it harder for us to ensure an unbroken connection to these plants and country.

These ingredients mean a transactional purchase and leverage little social value. Not only do they not direct any value to Aboriginal communities and people, but they absolutely harm the small and fledgling Aboriginal-owned economy in the beauty sector and the businesses, traditional-owner and community enterprises who are building this sector.

Over the years we have seen many non-Aboriginal businesses describe a connection to Aboriginal people and our use of native botanicals in their marketing of their products when there was no tangible connection or any significant Aboriginal businesses involved in their supply chain. Equally, we have seen businesses ‘pass themselves off’ as having a connection, when they don’t.

Many businesses will shape their packaging, product lines and names, business names, artwork and language on their websites to imply a meaningful connection to Aboriginal businesses or communities when there is no demonstrated or verified connection. This is to make a product seem more authentic, seem more connected to Aboriginal culture and use of these plants when the business is not owned by Aboriginal people.

Some businesses may use Aboriginal businesses and organisations in their supply chain and promote this connection with these suppliers to bolster their message, however the information around these relationships are not transparent and even murky. This type of messaging is not consistent across all their suppliers, only the Aboriginal suppliers.

Certainly, it must be stated that there are non-Aboriginal businesses out there doing the right thing. They are developing their supply chains with Aboriginal-owned suppliers, being respectful not to look like an Aboriginal-owned business, they are creating reconciliation action plans to be transparent about their activities, but there is still some way to go to create better more meaningful, equitable and verifiable supply-chains and this is a responsibility of sector as a whole, not just individual businesses.

So the next time you go searching for a product with a native botanical such as lemon myrtle or kakadu plum, or you see a product that includes these ingredients, and you are thinking about purchasing it think about what you support by doing this.

Are you buying it because their marketing is slick, the packaging is uber-cool and eco-friendly? Do you really understand and do they communicated what the back-story is of their connection to Aboriginal people, businesses or culture before your buy it? Because you could support an Aboriginal-owned* beauty business like Mwerre and buy this ingredient in one of their products and know that it is a meaningful way to contribute to social, economic, and cultural well-being of First peoples while contributing to protecting their birthright. 


Why buy native ingredients from Aboriginal owned businesses? Well buying from Aboriginal-owned businesses that use native botanicals is not just a transaction; it is a meaningful way to contribute to social, economic, and cultural well-being while supporting the birthright of Aboriginal people to continue to be connected to Australian botanicals that kept our culture and communities healthy and alive.

*Find Aboriginal-owned businesses nationally through Supply Nation

Menopause, skin wellness and native Indigiceuticals

Woman with Menopause

Menopause or ‘Change of Life’ is a natural stage in a woman’s life marking the end of the reproductive years. Peri-menopause, which generally occurs in the 40’s and 50’s, prior to menopause may cause progressive changes in the skin such as skin thinning, hyper-pigmentation, wrinkles, dryness and skin sensitivity. Lets explore the link between Menopause, skin wellness and native Indigiceuticals.

Menopause can cause a decrease in the hormone oestrogen in the body, which can lead to dryness, wrinkles, and a loss of skin elasticity. Fortunately, there are steps women can take to care for their skin leading up to and during menopause, including using skincare products with native Australian botanicals with Indigiceuticals.

Using ingredients rich in antioxidants, vitamins and humectants help support the skin during menopause

Native Australian botanicals are plants that are indigenous to Australia and have been used for thousands of years and generations of Aboriginal people for their nutritional, medicinal and indigiceutical properties. Aboriginal people developed the knowledge of plant properties over tens of thousands of years and were integrally connected to the natural world for healing and wellness.

Many of these special botanicals are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that are beneficial for the skin. Some of the most popular native Australian botanicals used in skincare products include Kakadu Plum, Quandong, and Davidson Plum, all fantastic for supporting dry and ageing skin.

Kakadu Plum

Kakadu Plum is a native Australian fruit that is rich in vitamin C, which helps to brighten the skin and stimulate collagen production. It also contains antioxidants that protect the skin from free radicals, which can damage the skin and accelerate the signs of ageing.


Quandong is a native Australian fruit that is high in vitamin E, which helps to nourish and hydrate the skin. It also contains antioxidants that protect the skin from environmental stressors, such as pollution and UV rays.

Davidson Plum

Davidson Plum is a native Australian fruit that is high in anthocyanins, which are antioxidants that help to protect the skin from oxidative stress. It also contains vitamin C, which helps to brighten the skin and stimulate collagen production.

Desert Lime

Desert Lime is rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, which help to protect the skin from environmental stressors that can damage the skin and accelerate the ageing process.

Quandong fruit (sometimes know as a native peach) growing on a quandong tree.

What to look for in choosing products with Native Botanical Indigiceuticals?

When choosing skincare products that contain native Australian botanicals, it’s important to look for products that are free from harsh chemicals and synthetic fragrances, opting for naturally derived ingredients instead.

Many boutique, clean skincare brands that use native Australian botanicals are committed to embedding sustainable and ethical practices. Choosing to buy native Australian botanicals in products that have been developed by Aboriginal owned businesses further supports ethical purchasing of these highly sought after ingredients. This puts more of the economic benefits back in our hands and acknowledges our long-developed collective intellectual property in the usage of these plants.

What are other things we can do to take care of our skin during menopause?

In addition to using skincare products with native Australian botanicals, there are other steps that women can take to care of their skin during menopause. For example, it’s important to use a gentle cleanser to avoid stripping the skin of its natural oils. A moisturiser that is rich in antioxidants and humectants can help to hydrate the skin and improve its elasticity. Humectants draw moisture to the skin so as we age its important to keep the skin hydrated from the inside and out.

Using products that do not dry the skin is a good start! As well as, using products with humectants such as natural glycerin or hyaluronic acid will assist with hydration. It’s also important to protect your skin from UV rays and wear sunscreen every day if outdoors.

and you can also add the benefits on the inside…

The other benefit of native botanicals is many of these you can also ingest as a tea or food additive. Including them as food ingredients by including them in a balanced diet will add further benefits due to their ‘superfood’ status.

Which Mwerre soaps are have native botanicals?

Our new Indigenous Botanical range is a luxury bar soap range that presents native botanicals. We currently have a wonderful range of soaps including refreshing Lemon Myrtle, uplifting River Mint, soothing Davidson Plum, citrusy Desert Lime and calming Saltbush with more coming soon…

Shop our new botanical soap range here

Feel good and support your skin wellness

In conclusion, menopause can cause changes in the skin that can be addressed with the use of skincare products that contain native Australian botanicals. These botanicals are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that are beneficial for the skin. When combined with other skincare practices, such as gentle cleansing and regular use of sunscreen, women can maintain healthy and youthful-looking skin during menopause

Biodegradable soap and ‘Leave No Trace’ principles

The principles of ‘Leave No Trace’ provide a guide on how to reduce your impact on the environment when visiting the outdoors. Biodegradable soap is a key way to minimise your impact when camping, hiking and enjoying the outdoors,

When getting into the outdoors and camping, biogegradable soap can help you leave no trace

These principles were originally developed to provide guidance for outdoor activities in wilderness areas. But they are equally relevant and can be applied to many other outdoor activities such as attending on country workshops and festivals. Each one of the seven principles of ‘Leave No Trace’ provides detailed information for minimising human impact on the environment.

Camping and outdoor activities could well be described as being rustic, earthy and dirty. Soap, in all its forms, helps keep camping equipment and humans clean while camping, but not all soaps are equal. The wrong type of soap can harm the environment.

Choosing biodegradable soap is the best way to minimise your impact on pristine environments and keep waterways healthy.

Why are Biodegradable soaps so important?

To protect natural waterways we need to take extra precautions to ensure we have as little environmental impact as possible while we enjoy the outdoors. One of the ways we can support the health of our waterways is to not add pollution or nasties to water bodies like creeks, lakes and rivers and the that soils surround them. By using biodegradable soap in these areas (in fact any area whether outdoors on in your home) helps to support healthy waterways.

What is Biodegradable soap?

Biodegradable soap is real soap that can be efficiently decomposed or broken down and eliminated or reduced to negligible amounts by soil.

The term Biodegradable means that the ingredients used in a soap or other products can be broken down naturally by bacteria and/or living organisms, rather than remaining in the soil for a long period.

A soap is generally considered to be biodegradable when at least 90% of its ingredients break down into water, carbon dioxide and biological material within six months of being discarded. 

Many regular soaps bought in the supermarket are not biodegradable. These ‘regular’ soaps can contain chemical ingredients like phosphates or triclosan, which cannot break down naturally or be filtered out during water treatment. For example, when phosphates find their way into lakes they can cause algae to overgrow, causing ‘algal blooms’. An algal bloom is harmful to plants and animals as it can take up all of the oxygen in the water which essentially suffocates all the existing fish, animals and plants in a body of water. Regular soap causes build up of these chemicals in lakes and rivers upsetting the natural balance of the water and environment.

How do I identify a biodegradable soap?

Most Mwerre soaps are biodegradable. Biodegradable bar soaps are made from quality, natural vegetable oils which reacts with lye to make soap with glycerin, this is called saponification. Any saponified soap bar or ‘cold-process’ soap bar is a good place to start for finding a biodegradable soap. These real ‘saponified’ soaps are made using traditional methods with natural ingredients and are unlikely to include other additives, fragrances, chemicals or detergents such as surfactants. 

Of course, when buying any soap it’s worth considering all the additives included in soap. While most saponified soap is biodegradable, they may include non-biodegradable ingredients.

Most regular or commercial ‘soaps’ have surfactants, which are man-made foaming agents. These surfactants are extremely hard to filter and remove during water treatment processes. Products that advertise themselves as anti-bacterial are especially likely to include these, so double check the ingredients.

Most commercial soaps have surfactants, known as man-made foaming agents. These surfactants are unhealthy for the environment and hard to filter out during water treatment processes. An easy switch is making sure you use biodegradable dish soap, hand soap, shampoo and body wash.

Collect your run off from showering or washing into a cathole or move your shower to reduce impact on one area and minimise your use of soap (unlike this guy!)

It’s not only about the soap being biodegradable, it’s also how you use it!

Whether you are at hiking or trekking, camping or glamping, any waste water from using soap (even biodegradable ones) must be suitably disposed of, to help support a healthy environment.

When camping, using regular or non-biodegradable soap to wash yourself, your clothes or your pots and pans harms waterways! While biodegradable soap has a lower impact than regular soap, all soap needs to be used with care in the outdoors. You should minimise the use of soap and never use soap directly in water sources to wash yourself, your dishes/equipment or clothes.

You should always do any washing away from creeks, rivers or lakes. Collect water, and take it to a wash site at least 60 metres away from water sources. This lessens trampling and erosion of riverbanks and shorelines, and helps keep soap and other nasties out of the water.

There are two best practice methods of disposing of soapy waste water or ‘grey water’ outdoors:

  1. Disperse or throw small amounts of grey water in a wide arc. This method prevents pouring of concentrated waste water in one spot and saves you from having to dig a cathole, especially if you do not have tools handy.
  2. Dig a ‘cathole’ (a hole in the ground about 150-200 deep x 200mm long) into which you can pour your grey water from washing. Digging a hole to bury the waste water puts the soap in direct contact with bacteria in the soil that will break it down and aid in efficient decomposition. It also helps to prevent potential surface runoff during rainy weather. Make sure you fill in your cathole and the waste is covered and the soil is well compacted.
Use biodegradable soap and dispose of washing up waste water properly while camping near waterways

Which Mwerre soaps are biodegradable?

Most of our soaps are biodegradable! We have created a menu item in our Features section titled biodegradable which includes all of our biodegradable products.

Shop our biodegradable soaps here