Updated: Sep 15, 2020
Did you know this month is otherwise called Soaptember?
It's the perfect month to start thinking of ditching the plastic contained, chemical loaded, orangutan killing, synthetically scented “90% water, 10% active ingredients" stuff and replacing it with all natural, body and earth friendly alternatives.
Replacing liquid soaps, shampoos and even washing up liquid with a solid bar has countless benefits, not just the most obvious one of reducing your plastic waste. But don’t be fooled by cheap commercial versions of solid bars as they will contain all the same ingredients minus the water.
Organic, locally produced soaps are made using eco-friendly cold press process and consist of entirely natural ingredients and contain no SLS or parabens that dry out skin and even cause rashes or eczema, no toxic synthetic scents that can cause allergies. They are made from plant oils, not crude oils and if they do contain some palm oil, it's from ethical sources. They're scented with essential oils or even actual herbs and spices, coffee grains, citrus fruit and what not. Their production is far kinder to the environment because it doesn't involve using a lot of power to extract, produce and combine all the chemicals that go into them, but also because there is no need for plastic containers the production of which also requires fossil fuel and tons of water and electricity, not to mention the environmental and financial costs associated with disposing of them.
And then there is the environmental impact of the transporting the commercially produced stuff. The weight of the plastic containers and the water added to them has huge bearing on the overall carbon footprint of such products even if they are made in tour own country, but very often they are not - Why have we got into the habit of buying such basic things as soap and shampoo made so far away that had to be shipped at great financial and environmental cost all the way to all the stores around us, so we don’t ever have to worry about forgetting to buy soap and can just get it in the same swoop as our bread and milk?
Oh, wait, I know. Cost. It’s that. With a few exceptions, it is far cheaper for me to buy shower gel produced all the way in China than it is from a domestic company. How? How should this even be possible and acceptable? The answer is pretty simple actually. It’s not just that giant multinational companies are moving production further and further east for ever cheaper labour. They are also so desperate for your money that they constantly compete for your business by waging price wars against each other. But don’t be fooled, they’re not reducing their prices just to keep their customers happy at their own expense. No, they make sure their profits are left intact by going for cheaper and cheaper ingredients, not just labour. So really in long term, if you think you’re saving yourself a bit of money by buying cheaper shampoo, just start monitoring how long that actually lasts you compared to something a little more expensive – you need more and more of the product to achieve the same results. So really, if you invested into one that’s double the cost, it would probably last you twice as long.
Hand made solid soap bars may seem an investment by comparison but don’t forget that you are buying 100% of active ingredients, not 90% water and 10% the actual useful stuff. For example, my shampoo bar has lasted me 5 months and I still have more than 2/3 left. Same goes for some of my large soaps. True, I do alternate them depending on mood (can’t beat a coffee grain scrubby one in the morning and calming lavender and night) but the largest ones I own have lasted for over a year. So your investment will be worth it. But another added bonus is, because they do not contain any chemicals to dry your skin, you may find you’re not needing to moisturise as often or even at all! This was another wonderful bonus I never expected to discover – my skin always used to feel so dry and certain shower gels even gave me temporary rash. Now my skin is so smooth even my partner had something to say on the subject. So I am now saving considerable amounts not having to buy expensive, deeply moisturising lotions (because the cheap ones weren’t enough).
Oh and since this month is also dubbed Secondhand September, what do you think of my fabulously hand dish rack that started life as a toast rack?