Today's Easy Eco-tip:
Use bar soap instead of liquid soap.
Give bars a chance.
For several years now, body wash has outstripped bar soap in sales. I think it's safe to say most Americans are using liquid hand soap rather than bar soap as well. But before 1980, liquid soaps were virtually non-existent. One of the things I love about our 1960s bathrooms is that the sinks have little indentations on each side of the faucet for bar soap. Imagine that! Instead of a built in stainless-steel soap dispenser, the latest and greatest in 1960 was a built-in place to store your bar soap. There are many reasons to give good old-fashioned bar soap a second look.
- Have a smaller carbon footprint. 25 percent smaller according to one estimate. Why? Read on.
- Cost less! After all, the first ingredient in almost any liquid soap is water. Water which then has to be bottled and transported to your store or home. While several folks have priced out the savings, my unscientific observation is that while a bottle of liquid hand soap lasts a month or two in my house, a bar of hand soap seems to last forever! Seriously, I've been using the same bar of soap at my bathroom sink for about a year. With all that money saved, you can afford to buy a really nice handmade bar made with natural and organic ingredients.
- Prevent overuse and waste. In a typical washing, people use 7 times more liquid soap than bar soap. All that extra soap simply gets washed down the drain.
- Require far less packaging. Many bar soaps come packaged in paper that can easily be recycled. Those plastic bottles that liquid soaps come in have to be manufactured and shipped, and then disposed of (some might be recycled, but most end up in the landfill).
- Are much more travel-friendly. No worries about meeting those TSA requirements. Plus you don't have to worry about bar soap leaking all over the luggage.
Baby steps to bar soaps
A year ago I realized it was kind of silly that I switched to a shampoo bar to reduce plastic packaging (among other things), but still used liquid hand soap. But I was loathe to switch to bar soap for hand washing for fear my children would become even more reluctant hand washers. So I switched to bar soap in the master bathroom only. Fast forward six months and my kids were asking to use bar soap. Now in the main bathroom we have both bar soap and liquid soap and the kids usually opt for the bar soap. My husband and I have never used body wash, so no need to make the switch there. My kids use liquid shampoo/ body wash mainly because I've never seen a tear-free bar soap. But we usually wash their bodies with the bar soap. I plan to transition them to shampoo bars and bar soaps completely once they can be relied upon to keep the soap out of their eyes.
|Reluctant to make the switch? Why not try offering both and see what happens?|
What about germs?
Don't worry. People have already worried about that, and it's not an issue. If sharing a bar of soap with others bugs you, just rinse off the bar soap before using. Can it really be worse than everyone's germy hands pushing on the same pump for liquid soap?
Here are some tips for greening your washing routine:
(whether you use bar soap or liquid soap)
- Avoid the nastiest ingredients. Study that ingredient list and avoid any product with triclosan, fragrance, parabens, and BHA and other preservatives.
- Use less. Experts say most people use twice as much soap as they actually need. One teaspoon of body wash, for example, is plenty of soap for most people. Using a shower puff instead of your hand or a washcloth can facilitate this.
- Store your bar soap out of the direct shower stream. We store ours on the opposite wall from the shower head in a stainless steel suction thing designed for kitchen soap sponges. Letting your bar soap dry out and stay dry between uses will increase its life.
- If practical, turn off water while sudsing and singing your ABCs. I don't expect my kids to do this on their own (it's a little tricky to turn back on the faucet with slippery soaped up hands), but I lather and rub my hands with the water off and so do my kids when they wash their hands alongside me.