Does your soap leave an environmental footprint?
Did you know the type of soap you use in your bathroom can make a difference to the size of your environmental footprint?
Let’s face it, bubbles are fun, and a sign we’re getting whatever we’re washing clean, be it our hair, hands, clothes or dishes. Let’s take the soap we use to wash our hands with. We spend thousands of dollars a year in order to wash the dirt from our skin, so skin-cleaning products can have a big impact on our environmental footprint. There has been a shift toward using liquid soaps with claims the containers look stylish and are clean and easy-to-use compared to bar soaps which tend to be unhygienic and messy leaving hard-to-shift residue on surfaces. However, with no real differences in cleaning abilities, let’s look at the environmental factors. Bar soap is made by adding lye (sodium hydroxide) to animal or vegetable fats or oils. Almost all soaps use palm or coconut oil so check that you are buying from environmentally aware manufacturers who use sustainably sourced palm oil. Most liquid soaps on the other hand are actually synthetic detergents. Several of the ingredients used in them are derived from petroleum products. Bar soaps tend to use less packaging and some do come in biodegradable cardboard boxes. Try to avoid any with unnecessary plastic overwraps. Liquid soaps come in plastic bottles so they are always going to be more energy-intensive to produce. Look for containers that are recyclable. Also, the main ingredient of liquid soaps is water, which means they are heavier and bulkier than bar soap and require more fossil fuel energy to transport an equivalent amount. So, if you want to reduce your home's carbon footprint, buying or making bar soaps is a step in the right direction.