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Everyday sustainability in a throw away society 

  • Brittany Ainsworth

Recycled Cooking Oil Soap

Updated: Dec 12, 2018

Hundreds of litres of used cooking oil are saved from landfill by being collected from restaurants and street stalls around Hoi An, to create natural soaps.



In my quest for Zero Waste travel throughout Southeast Asia I had packed one bar of Zero Waste soap and planned to buy another along the way to continue my Zero Waste journey. However, I had not anticipated how hard it would be to find Zero Waste soap in Southeast Asia! Every time I thought I had found the perfect bar of soap without any packaging it turned out to be covered with a thin film of plastic.


That was until one day whilst cycling through the picturesque Hoi An, I stumbled across some beautifully handmade soap packaged in paper, without any plastic in sight!


The company who made this illusive plastic free soap was SAPO Hoi An.


Megumi Kawada created SAPO natural soaps in response to her hands drying and cracking with the use of traditional commercial soaps along with the birth of her sensitive skinned baby boy. Using her knowledge of aromatherapy and Japanese recycled soap techniques, Megumi sources local Vietnamese organic herbs and ingredients to create her cold pressed soaps.


The intriguing ingredient in Megumi’s kitchen & laundry soap is the used cooking oil from local restaurants and street stalls. The used oil is filtered and cleaned before becoming an essential ingredient in SAPO’s soap. I was fortunate enough to be able to partake in one of SAPO’s soap making workshops and saw firsthand how this unlikely ingredient creates the perfect soap for washing everything from your hands, to dishes and laundry. To put your mind at ease, no it doesn’t smell like cooking oil at all once curated.



With the sweeping landscapes of Vietnam as her inspiration, Megumi has paired her natural products with eco-friendly packaging to minimise the impact on the environment. Customers are also encouraged to refill their bottles and tins to further eliminate waste and join the Zero Waste movement.


Megumi’s mission is to not only create natural products but also states,

“I want to raise awareness among the young generation (kids from primary school) to the importance of healthy and environmentally friendly production, as well as food safety. It’s really important for them to grow up with healthy ideas.”

I had always been intrigued by the idea of making my own soap, but had dismissed the thought as it seemed like too much of an in-depth process for me to manage. However with the help of one of SAPO’s soap makers, I was able to combine coconut oil, recycled cooking oil, lye and essential oils to easily create my every own kitchen & laundry soap.


I use this soap constantly on my Zero Waste journey throughout Southeast Asia, to wash my reusable containers, cutlery, clothes and cloth napkins in the bathroom sinks of countless hotels. It’s the perfect Zero Waste travel companion!



Have you made your own Zero Waste soap before?

Let me know in the comments below and share your tips for creating the perfect soap!



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