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Eco-friendly = Plastic-free = Zero Waste?
It is probably not quite as simple as that. Plastic-free. Yes. Zero Waste. Edging closer. We want to reduce packaging. This has been pretty much in close-up focus throughout all of “Plastic-free” July. But eco-friendly also means cutting back on harmful chemicals such as uncertified fragrance, phthalates, triclosan, parabens and specifically palm oil, both for your own and your family’s benefit and that of the environment.
A while ago, I outlined 6 steps to a more eco-friendly bathroom. It may seem daunting, as our bathrooms are literally awash with plastics (as are our kitchens and cleaning cupboards), but that is another story.
The first step is to switch back to the good old bar of soap. We tend to use everything in liquid form – shower gel, body wash, hand soap, bubble bath… and they are all effectively the same thing.
All of this can be replaced with a plastic-free solid bar. Just think of the number of bottles: A minimum of three bottles every month. Live to an age of say 80 (reduce the first 5 years, but at the same time, parents would use more baby wash etc.), that is about 2880 bottles per person, and that is quite a low estimate, considering we are ONLY talking about shampoo, conditioner and shower gel. You would have to add the other single-use plastic containers for facial washes, scrubs, lotions. The list is endless.
Most of us (and I used to be like that) buy a separate product for each of them. They do have different ingredients, granted, but essentially they all do the same thing. So you won’t be surprised to hear that one bar of gentle soap or maybe two are enough. And you won’t clutter up your bathroom as another bonus.
Ditch ALL of them!
All. Yes, I am serious. You do not need them. Bars of soap is all you need. Don’t just leave them in the corner of the bathtub or shower to get all soggy but get a wire tray where they can drip dry. Then use the left-over scraps and make liquid soap. That way I have also recycled a lot of my old liquid soap containers.
What Are Our Options?
- Stop the water while using me Shampoo and Conditioner Bar – This is by far and so far the best of all the products I have tested to date. There is very little saponifier in the product which just shows you that it isn’t necessary for it to work. I have written more about that here. Only three ingredients are used for its manufacture: bergamot oil, cocoa butter and broccoli seed oil. It contains no artificial perfumes or fragrances, paraffin or silicones and is also suitable for vegans and cruelty-free. Their packaging is 100% recyclable and the soaps are also palm oil-free. These guys who are based in Hamburg, Germany are very committed to saving one of our most precious resource: Water! Go and check them out!
- Friendly Soap – Quite good. I have tested different types of fragrance and they are all lovely. The only problem was that I felt that my hair reacted to it by producing more of its natural oil. This is why it does well to experiment with a few brands to find out which one suits your skin/hair type best. These soaps are handmade in the UK, are cruelty-free, suitable for vegans (they are registered with the vegan society) and have 100% recyclable packaging. Their saponifying agents are based on olive oil and coconut oil and they contain lots of lovely smelling essential oils. Have a look at their range!
- Baensch Coconut soap – This product is very mild and has a lovely, gentle fragrance. I have tried Rose and Lavender. In the same way as Friendly soap, I do feel that my hair was reacting by producing quite a lot of natural oil or sebum again. This product can be used as an all in one bar – both on skin and hair and is also mild enough to be suitable for children. This is another German product and just like the other two previous brands, its packaging is 100% recyclable (well, I should stop mentioning it as it wouldn’t feature here if it wasn’t) and it is made from 100% cold-pressed coconut oil. No preservatives or emulsifiers have been used to produce them.
- Suma Alter/Native – This has been brought out recently as a new addition to their range and is paraben and SLS free. I thought I would give this a go just to see how it worked. The only downside to it is: it still contains palm oil which doesn’t sit well with me despite their pledge to sustainably sourced palm oil. Still, their ethics are spot on. Suma is made in the UK, so it will help to reduce your shipping carbon footprint as well, just as with the other products mentioned in this article.
The other good news is that natural ingredients such as lemongrass essential oil and tea tree oil have antifungal and antibacterial properties.
For babies and toddlers, I can always recommend Kokoso.
Facial Cleansing Bars
Just clean your face under the shower with a flannel or a natural sponge. Luckily microbeads are a thing of the past. Use facial cleansing bars, Friendly or Stop the water while using me and a flannel. Like the “Stop the water while using me” shampoo bar, it has very little saponifying agent in there. It still cleanses perfectly fine. It always depends on your skin type of course, but it does take off excess sunscreen and eyeliner. As I don’t use make-up, I cannot vouch for that.
All of the brands mentioned above either make soap you can use to wash your hands and your body which are produced to the same environmental, cruelty-free and ethical standards. Either you can use them both on skin and hair or body and face or hair and hands. Anyway. It’ll get you clean without polluting something else or worse still killing it off. So, go for it!
All of this helps with travelling as well. There is no need to laboriously fill up tiny bottles with your liquid shampoo, and body wash, and facial wash, and … (Have I forgotten something?) only to run out of it so you will have to buy some more in the country of destination.
I know what I am talking about, I have been there!
You will still need containers for your soaps. Get a plastic container by all means if you still have one, at least it isn’t single-use plastic or better bamboo. Put them in travel containers. Hydrophil has some lovely stainless steel ones now.
And a last word on refill options: I think they are a bit of a con, as the refill containers are made from plastic too. Faith In Nature sell whopping 5-litre refill containers of shampoo, for example, and there are a number of shops throughout the UK that offer refills of their products too. So, it is still best to use soaps bars.
By the way: I am currently working on a recipe for natural shampoo. Yes, it will be in liquid form, however, no additional plastic packaging will be used. I am aiming at perfecting it, then I will share it with you.
Until next time