Vegetarian Soap comes from Palam Rural Centre in Tamilnadu, South India.

    Palam's roots are with some of the so-called «lowest caste» people of southern India. They founded their own community self-help organization after an earlier charity project changed its focus against the wishes of the beneficiaries.
    The whole community upped sticks and moved off onto land it eventually purchased, and set itself up as an independent entity. Palam was then registered as a society for the common good for those who live and work in the community.
    Today, Palam is effectively like a small village, with individual houses and where members live and work together.
    To help equip children for the future, Palam supports its own school for the benefit also of the wider local community.

Soap making using simple technology has been an activity at Palam for many years, and this helps provide livelihoods.
    Most other soap consists of a very small amount of sodium hydroxide and salt surrounded by a substantial quantity of cheap fat and a load of chemicals. An artificial compound can also provide the smell.
    Many chemicals are usually included, so have a look at the list of ingredients that always has to be shown on soap packaging.
    Then contrast all that with our soap! One Village has worked with Palam to develop very different soaps that have no artificial fragrance and, instead of cheap fat and chemicals, rely on a profound base of active vegetable oils.
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When Palam was first established, the area around it was very rural – surrounded by open fields.
    But over the years, nearby towns have expanded and factories have come closer.
    Many people round about who previously had small holdings or did farm work have taken up jobs in the new factories, mostly in knitwear production for large companies.
    The attraction was that factories appeared to provide for most of the year a regular and assured income. But many would argue that the ex-farmers have in other ways lost a great deal. Their way of life has completely changed.
    By comparison, quality of life in the Palam community remains strong and spirits stay high so long as the products keep selling.

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    Nearby industrialization has brought many problems, not the least of which is a serious fall in the level of the local water table.
    Whilst the knitwear industries use vast quantities of water for bleaching, dyeing, and other processes, local people have over recent years faced a real crisis in getting enough water for basic needs like drinking, cooking and washing.
    Even after good rains, concerns for adequate water are always present.
    Climate change adds to the problem bringing soaring temperatures and in some recent years rainfall has been less than half the previous average.
    As well as water issues, electricity outages can continue for many hours every day making both production and domestic life extremely difficult.

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One Village was set up in 1979 specifically to work in partnership with producers' societies such as Palam.
    Because it wants to encourage equality of opportunity for all, One Village only works with organizations that have a social foundation – instead of normal commercial businesses such as «family firms» that tend to primarily enrich company owners.
    Many producers' organizations with a social basis (including workers' cooperatives) have been able to depend on One Village for over 30 years, benefiting from continuity of marketing and – most importantly – the strength of spirit that comes from lasting solidarity.

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