Zero Waste Tip #8: Soap Bars

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8. Stop buying hand soap in plastic bottles; instead, look for bars of soap without plastic packaging!

This is another zero waste swap that requires no daily thought beyond the initial purchase. However, as you transition into a more eco-friendly lifestyle, this is also an excellent opportunity to begin evaluating the ingredients found in your soaps and skin-care products. If you look at the back label and can’t understand most of the ingredients listed, perhaps it’s time to do some research on what you’re applying to your body’s largest organ (your skin)!

According to this article from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, soaps that are marketed as antibacterial usually “contain certain chemicals not found in plain soaps [such as] triclosan, an ingredient of concern to many environmental, academic and regulatory groups…. We don’t yet know how triclosan affects humans and more research is needed.”

Zero Waste Tip: Look for bars of soap instead of soap in plastic bottles
Tom’s of Maine bar soap is one of my current favorites! Look for it at your local natural grocery store or here on Amazon. It’s affordable and comes without the harmful ingredients found in other soaps.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has compiled a brief list of ingredients to watch out for in your skin-care products, including triclosan, parabens, and fragrances, so keep this in mind as you search for a soap bar. Generally speaking, the fewer ingredients, the better!

Pro Tip: Make sure you invest in a proper way to store your soap bars. If you don’t, you can look forward to mushy soap with a much shorter life-span. The best soap storage method will provide a way for water to drain so that the bar is not constantly soaking in water.

My favorite soap dishes are similar to these: handmade of natural wood, with slats allowing for water drainage. We also have a set of porcelain soap dishes, which are easier to clean but not ideal for using in the shower, since they’re harder to keep dry.

Lifestyle Benefit: Perhaps I’m the only one, but in my mind I equate bars of soap to simplicity. There’s no plastic bottle, no fancy design trying to sell you on the product, no directions written on the outside of a package. It’s simply soap. Wash and repeat.

Buying bars of soap is also an excellent way to support small businesses, since they are often handmade or sold by local artisans and businesses. Some of my all-time favorite bars of soap were handmade bars purchased at my local natural grocery store.

Earth Benefit: Those plastic soap bottles you bought for your first home, to bring to college, or for your school supply list in elementary school? The adorable travel sized ones you’ve bought for nearly every vacation? Yep, they’re all still out there. The most common type of plastic used in soap bottles is HDPE (#2) plastic, and it can take up to 100 years to decompose! Here’s an article with more information about plastic types if you’re interested in learning more.

The Earth is swimming in plastic bottles, and the biggest way for consumers to begin to remedy the problem is to stop purchasing them! Buying bars of soap that are unwrapped or that come in paper packaging is the perfect place to start.

Find additional blog posts about zero waste swaps below:

Zero Waste Tip #1: Reusable Grocery Bags

Zero Waste Tip #2: Reusable Straws

Zero Waste Tip #3: Reusable Coffee Mugs

Zero Waste Tip #4: Real Kitchen Towels

Zero Waste Tip #5: Cloth Diapers

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