Hazardous Adsorbents, Part 2: Coconut Husk

Nutritionists have been singing the praises of coconut for years. Touted benefits of coconut oil, for instance, include everything from boosting immunity to balancing hormones, aiding digestion to beautifying skin and hair. Coconut water is a delicious, almost calorie-free beverage, and coconut butter, a yummy, heart-healthy alternative on toast. What a versatile fruit!

But wait: what about coconut husk? While “husk” may conjure the image of something dried up and depleted, coconut husk, also known as coir fiber, is actually hazardous. Yes, it’s used to make doormats, brushes and mattresses. But it’s bad for the environment.

Vetting the Retting Process

If you happen to be from Pittsburgh, you may be familiar with the imperative, “Redd up your room!” It’s a colloquial expression most often uttered by local parents that means, “Put that mess in a trash bag and take it outside.” If a teenager lives there, what’s in the room is usually just mildly toxic.

But retting, as it applies to coir fiber production, is a lot more toxic than it might appear. The retting process (soaking coir fiber to soften the stalks) generates significant water pollution. Among the major organic pollutants are pectosan, fat, tannin, toxic polyphenols, and several types of bacteria, including salmonella.

Protecting the Children

In addition, coir production utilizes child labor. Most U.S. coir comes from India and Sri Lanka. According to a 2013 report, “In India, agriculture employs about 69.5 percent of child labor (5-14 years). Children are engaged in the manufacturing of goods in industries such as rice mills, bidi factories andcoir making, to mention a few.”

The combination of environmental degradation and child labor practices can’t possibly justify the end product. Especially when there’s an eco alternative that works so much better: XSORB Universal will absorb almost twice as much as coir fiber.

So go ahead, enjoy your coconut oil, coconut water, coconut milk and coconut butter, if these edibles call to you. But when it comes to spill containment and spill clean up, reach for the non-leaching, sustainably sourced products that are created using fair labor practices: XSORB. The first name in spill clean up absorbents for the past 25 years.

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