Did you know that 90% of your shampoo consists of water? Why do we transport a product over hundreds or even thousands of miles, while it is available in our homes, almost free of charge? If you think about it, it doesn’t make sense.
I had never thought about this until my husband started to experiment with soap and shampoo bars almost ten years ago on his journey to light weight camping. Honestly, I was very skeptical and did not understand why you would ditch the shampoo bottle. I loved my liquid shampoo. Solid shampoo is weird, I thought. I didn’t want to be weird.
But slowly I started to realize how wasteful it is to ship water across the planet. Or as sustainability expert Nadya Zhexembayeva writes: “Why do we pump water, process water, bottle water, package water, store water, transport water, sell water, and waste plastic to wash our hair, when water is the only ingredient that is not necessary to provide?”
Not only do we waste hundreds of thousand liters of water when we use liquid cosmetic products, but water is also heavy, which means it takes quite some energy to transport it from the factory to our home. Leave out that unnecessary water and the product is much lighter. In fact, transportation costs for solid shampoo are 15 times less per wash compared to liquid shampoo. Fifteen times!
On top of that, solid products such as shampoo and soap bars can easily be packaged in paper, while liquid products typically come in plastic (or in glass, but this is very heavy and exacerbates the transportation costs). And because you don’t pack the water, the product becomes less voluminous, which means you need less packaging. Double win!
So after realizing all of this, I slowly phased out the liquid cosmetic products in my life. I started shopping at Lush and got myself a soap bar. My first one was Honey I Washed The Kids. I LOVED it. The next step was a solid face wash and over the years I have replaced all my liquid cosmetics with solid alternatives.
Nowaydays there are many small shops where you can find solid cosmetic products. I am a huge fan of Nablus soap from Palestine, because of its very short ingredient list. I used to buy this at a store called De Tuinen in the Netherlands. Unfortunately, they stopped selling it. After moving to the US, I have found several alternatives through Etsy. Recently I ordered a olive oil based soap that I am really happy with from a Etsy shop called SommervilleSoapWorks, which turns out to be based in my neighborhood! Now that’s what I call supporting the local economy!
Today I want to encourage you to get out of your comfort zone and try something new. Browse the web or visit an offline store and experiment with solid cosmetics. Start with something small, like a soap bar, and once you get used to this, try a shampoo bar or a scrub. Ease into it and I am sure, you won’t look back.
Happy Plastic-Free Tuesday!