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05 March 2019

Sustainable living inspired a sustainable business

Adversity can often be a catalyst for positive change. For Talia and Luke Borda, founders of That Red House, a second cancer diagnosis prompted a sustainable and organic change that led to a new business distributing a natural laundry product which changed their lives and many others around the world.

In 2002, Luke was diagnosed with cancer and after undergoing seemingly successful treatment, in 2006, his second diagnosis confirmed their ultimate fears. In a bid to improve their health, Talia began researching chemicals and ways they could reduce their chemical exposure by switching to organic food and using toxin free products. “I was horrified to discover the extent of what we were unknowingly exposing ourselves to every day,” she recalls. After a few years of living their new lifestyle and the birth of their second baby, Talia and Luke decided they wanted to take their sustainable pursuits one step further. They sold their house in the leafy eastern suburbs and began the process of building an eco house and sustainable organic produce garden in the Adelaide Hills. “It was a massive task with two little ones and one on the way, but it was an amazing decision and one we are thankful for every day,” Talia says.

With this new organic lifestyle however, Talia was struggling to find an organic and grey water safe option for the laundry that allowed them to safely use on the vegetable garden. “I really needed a 100 percent chemical free, biodegradable and preferably organic detergent that actually worked on three dirty little boys,” Talia recalled. After much research, Talia discovered soapberries, the fruit of the Sapindus Mukorossi tree, native to Nepal.

Soapberries contain a substance called saponin, in the pericarp (flesh) of the fruit, which acts as a natural soap. They have been used for thousands of years throughout the Himalayas for a multitude of purposes. To harvest the berries, the trees are scaled manually and the berries are picked by hand by local communities, native to the area. They are harvested, dried in the sun, deseeded and packed. “No chemicals are used at any stage of the process, they are 100 percent certified organic and completely raw,” Talia says.

After using soapberries for a few years, Talia and Luke decided to take the plunge and start their business, That Red House, in 2013. “I discovered them, loved them and decided that the world needed to learn about my little secret too,” Talia says. They imported around 600 kilograms of soapberries which quickly sold out. “It was clear that people were ready to embrace the idea of a completely natural way to clean their clothes, and were becoming wise to the chemicals used in mainstream detergents and cleaning products.”

Now Talia and Luke distribute That Red House Organic Soapberries all over Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Mexico, Bermuda and across Europe. They have expanded the range to include Laundry Tonics made from 100 percent pure essential oils which can be added to the soapberries for fragrance. “Our aim at That Red House has always been to strive for a sustainable, organic, eco-conscious, zero-waste, chemical free way of life,” Talia says. “This supports our desire to maintain the health of our loved ones and the planet which can never be replaced.”

Author & Editor

Tracey Bailey is the founder of Biome Eco Stores and mother of two. After working in corporate communications and starting a family, she made a choice to be part of the solution to our planet's future and started Biome Eco Stores. Tracey is passionate about educating the community about living eco-friendly and sustainable lives through her extended product, chemical, health and environmental knowledge.


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