How to Practice Easy Bargain Environmentalism #1
Save & Be Green at the Same Time — #1 Soap
I often hear the argument that making greener choices means spending more money, suggesting that environmentally friendly choices are a luxury of the upper middle class and above.
But that is not entirely true. With smart purchases and small efforts, you can help the planet and your wallet.
From here on out, each week, I will present a new tip that will save both your money and the environment.
Welcome to Green Tip Tuesday! (“Green” because of money and the Earth 😋)
This week’s hot tip is: bars of soap!
The use of bar soap in the U.S. is in decline. Most people under 65 prefer liquid soap, particularly women. But this trend is hurting the environment. It’s time to make bar soap cool again.
Liquid soap is such a racket. Each pump delivers far more than you ever need (about 7 times that of bar soap), half of it slides off your hand when you try to scrub, and most contain alcohol, preservatives, and dyes — which dry/crack your skin and make you more susceptible to germs!
Liquid soap is bad for the environment.
From manufacturer to landfill, liquid soap has a carbon footprint 25% larger than that of bar soap! This monumental difference is a result of various factors. The biggest one is that it’s sold in single-use, plastic bottles, which means that when your liquid soap runs out (after the estimated three washes), that bottle is going in the trash!
Even if you recycle the bottle, remember that it took far more energy to make that plastic container than it did the liquid soap inside. So even if it does ultimately get recycled, it has already produced excessive waste during manufacturing.
Liquid soap is bad for your wallet.
The average amount of bar soap used per wash is 0.35 grams. The average amount of liquid soap per wash is 2.3 grams! Liquid soap is wasted so quickly, you’ll have to buy about seven times as much as you would if you purchased bar soap.
Plus, bar soap is cheaper in the first place. That’s largely because there’s far less packaging — not because it’s an inferior product. Less packaging/materials means savings for the customer and less waste to end up in the landfill.
Plus, in my experience, an average-sized bar of soap lasts a minimum of ten times longer than an average-sized (8-ounce) bottle of liquid soap.
If your concern isn’t with your wallet as much as the environment, locally made bars of soap (check your farmer’s market) commonly have no packaging. Plus, they’re made with natural ingredients and no creepy chemicals.
How did liquid soap become more popular?
Soap-producing companies spend a lot more money marketing liquid soap because it makes them a much larger profit than bar soap. It is sold with the promise of convenience and cleanliness. Let’s face it, liquid soap is perceived to be sexier than bar soap.
But bar soap is more convenient.
With bar soap, you always know how much is left. There’s no running out mid-pump (even when it looks like there’s still a tablespoon in the bottle). There’s no marrying the soap bottles to get the last drop out. There’s no filling the bottle with water in hopes of diluting the last bit just enough to use. Bar soap is straightforward.
Worried about dropping the bar of soap in the shower? That’s what soap on a rope is for (jokes aside). One little cloth with a pouch and drawstring for each shower user. Neato. You’ll drop it less than you will those globs of liquid soap that have a tendency of leaping from a slippery hand.
Bar soap is much better for travel — there are no restrictions on bar soap, so you can fill your carry-on with bars of soap and security won’t say a word. Well, maybe if you bring fifty bars of soap they’ll be concerned. But three definitely won’t be a problem.
The “cons” of bar soap.
I’ve only ever heard two cons for bar soap — #1 it’s less hygienic and #2 it’s less convenient.
#1 The concept of germs lingering on bar soap, thus defeating the purpose of washing, is a myth. A study backed by Dial (which sells both bar and liquid soaps) found that after washing with germ-coated bars of soap, none of the participants had detectable levels of the germs remaining on their skin.
Sure, public places can continue to dispense liquid soap instead of bar soap for the sake of hygiene (plus, they use bulk bags that create considerably less waste than bottles). But in your home, there shouldn’t be a germ problem.
Meanwhile, the pump on a bottle of liquid soap is hardly pure. Touching it when your hands are dirty (which they are if you’re about to wash) is roughly the same as touching a bar of soap, except you rinse the bar off with each use.
#2 We’ve already covered convenience. This may be a personal preference thing, but if you’re a liquid soap user for convenience, consider trying bar soap to decide if the waste of liquid is worth it.
Let’s not forget that soap isn’t just for washing hands. You can further reduce your carbon footprint by using bar soap in all its forms — the most common being body wash, shampoo, and face wash. I’ve even enjoyed using solid lotion, massage bars, and hair conditioner bars.
My favorite face wash bar by Noble Formula is great for anyone who has sensitive, dry, and/or acne-prone skin!
You can go even more extreme, if you’re willing, by making your own dish detergents.
If you have the means, buy local handmade soaps (I can always find a bounty of them at my local farmer’s market). That way, you’re supporting local business, getting higher quality ingredients, and making an even smaller carbon footprint.
Some folks, like myself, are picky about soap dishes. I like one that drains well and doesn't get messy. I'm willing to sacrifice a aesthetics for a low fuss experience.
That's why I like the Xiaomaizi silicone soap holder. It's even large enough to hold two bars of soap in the shower.
It’s important to note that you can undo some of the benefits of bar soap while washing if you aren’t smart about it. To maximize the green effect, you should follow these steps while washing.
1. Turn on water.
2. Wet the bar soap and your hands.
3. Turn off the water.
4. Rub and lather the moist bar, then replace in the soap dish.
5. Continue to lather.
That may sound stupid, but by turning off the water while lathering, you save hot water (which equates to energy to heat the water, as well as the water itself). If you run the water the whole time you wash, the carbon footprint of the bar soap (and you) increases.
Want to improve your life while saving the world? Obviously you do! Get the checklist that’s packed with easy action items and eco facts to get you on a roll.
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