Whatever happened to the bar of soap? Remember when every bathroom had a bar of soap and a soap dish beside the sink? Nowadays, grocery store shelves are lined with row after row of plastic pumps, filled with every variety of liquid soap. A shopper can purchase any fragrance, anti-bacterial, foaming, transparent, opaque, specially coloured and even glittery liquid soap. Where did all these bottles come from?
I will admit that I fell victim to the charms of those pretty little plastic bottles of liquid soap. Their claims of convenience and making hand washing “fun” proved all too alluring for our family. While we purchased the eco-friendlier options, we still eliminated the basic bar from beside our sink. Then one day as I stood in the store aisle, wondering which bottle to purchase, and I saw the lowly bar of soap. (BTW we have only ever used bar soap in the shower…although bottles of liquid body wash are super popular too). I picked up a few of those lonely bars and threw them in the cart…we are going back to the bar.
Why go back to the bar? Plastic and packaging. Single use plastic bottles are filling up city landfills at an alarming rate. Yes, they can be recycled in most jurisdictions…but only in most…not all. It’s a wide, wide world and if those little bottles are not being recycled, believe me they are piling up. While recycling is a great way to dispose of plastic bottles, the bigger offender is how plastic bottles are produced. Most plastic bottles available at the grocery store are made from synthetic polymers…namely Polyethyelene terephthalate (PET). A complicated chemical combination occurs to create a malleable plastic. This process requires the use of water, a lot of water. So, while the resulting plastic can be recycled, the manufacturing process is not done without an environmental impact. How many bottles are sold in our local grocery store…and the next grocery store…and the next grocery store…you get my point.
What about the claims that liquid soap is “cleaner” than bar soap? Well, soap is soap. Using a bar of soap that someone else has used will not actually pass along bacteria (sourced from this study by Heinz and Yackovich). Bar soap is just as “clean” as bottled soap.
What are we looking for in our bar soap? We are looking for minimal packaging and we are reading the label. Yep, check the ingredients in the soap. Glycerine based soaps are great for people with sensitive skin. Keep away from artificial fragrances and colouring. Additional artificial moisturizers mean additional chemicals. The ingredients should be few and pronounceable.
So, we made the switch. I picked up a simple soap dish, that keeps the wet soap high and dry (eliminate the slimy soap). So far, so good. The bar has actually been a lot of fun for the kids. Who doesn’t love squishing around a bar of soap and having it slip into the sink. That’s fun! What kind of soap do you use in your house? Are you a plastic pump or bar soap family?
** to prepare for next week’s challenge we are collecting all the junk mail we receive in the next 7 days…more to come next week **