Friday, October 21, 2011

Soap Bars: An Easy Way to Decrease Plastic

I am a recovered body-wash addict. All things body wash, I loved the yummy smells, the ease of squishing it out onto the wash cloth, did I say the awesome smells? Similarly, I was a huge fan of pump soap to encourage people to wash their hands after they use the bathroom. (It's been my experience that certain people will be more likely to wash their hands if there's pump soap, gross but true).

Sadly, they come in plastic. I thought I'd had this one figured out by simply making my own liquid soap from soap ends.... of course it was an epic fail. Who knew that the soap ends would harden in the glass bottle? (umm, I should have).

As a result, Andrew and I have been buying only soap for "body wash" and hand soap for over a year and a half now. No more plastic bottles of liquid body wash.

Now I wonder why I ever thought I needed it? We're able to find the most delicious smelling and long lasting locally handmade soap at our farmer's market. With options ranging from coffee-mint to my all-time long lost love Aveda favourite- Rosemary Mint, what is there to miss?

We put our soap ends into a glass dish to be used as our kitchen soap. You could also crochet (or purchase!) a lovely soap saver, like this one. Getting a really nice soap dish is key. Like this fabulous recycled wine glass dish (I'd break it) or a beautiful round clay one like this.

There are a few things to keep in mind when purchasing soap bars:

1. Stick with local and handmade. You're decreasing your soap's carbon footprint and supporting someone locally.

2. Avoid palm oil at all costs. It's the world's second largest crop after soy with around 83% of it coming from Malaysia and Indonesia. One study found that 18,130 square kilometres of rain forest was lost to palm oil plantations between 1982 and 1999 alone. This continued destruction of our planet's natural air filter also decimates thousands of animal and insect species. On top of that, you can add heavy unregulated pesticide use and soil erosion. (Ecoholic, June 2006).

3. Only buy when ingredients are listed. Avoid anything with a whole slew of unrecognizable chemical-y sounding ingredients. Guess what? Soap can be made with relatively simple ingredients that don't need to be identified by their chemical name.

4. Try to stay away from essential oil-heavy soaps. Many essential oils are synthetically made. If the soap smells like a Lush store, it's probably a bit on the heavy essential oil side. Synthetic essential oils can have respiratory and skin reactions and are processed heavily.

5. Get to know your soap maker if possible. Write them with any questions or concerns, chat with them about the ingredients they use.

Our favourite soaps? Free Spirit Farm sold at the Seaport Farmer's Market. This lovely couple make their soap from pesticide free, certified organic oils and herbs. Their soaps last a long time without losing shape or getting mushy and smell delicious without leaving a weird residue. They also carry Acadian Forest Stewardship certified wooden soap dishes that they hand mill themselves. We love them!

I'm telling ya, Eco-Yogis, make the leap to soap bars and never look back!


article copyright of EcoYogini at


  1. I love soap bars!! They come in paper - gotta love that! No plastic - yay!

    Those products you featured are awesome. Great ideas!

    Love this post! :)

  2. And for the ultimate in eco-soapiness, collect all the tiny bits of soap when each bar reaches the end of its life, keep them in a tub, then one day heat them up in an old saucepan, add some essential oils or colouring, stir it all around then form it into shapes and leave to cool! Bingo, your very own soap bars. (NB they do tend to fall apart a bit though.)

  3. i couldn't agree more! i love going to my farmer's market and saturday market and talking to the soapers :) the one that i love makes one that smells like chai and another like mojitos, i want to eat it! plus it has lots of grains for exfoliation and doesn't come in any paper. lots come in boxes with just a price tag out there to avoid even the paper :) thanks for encouraging this, i've never been a fan of hand soap myself but i know a lot are - including my current tenant who uses Meyer's handsoap and it's this lemon verbena that is so pungent (not in a good way) that it hurts my eyes!

  4. Although we have been known to have pump hand soap around, mostly for ease of use by guests, I have never seen the attraction of body wash. I think a lot of it does have to do with the fact that they are so heavily fragranced (I'm not a fragrance lover other than fragrances of foods an flowers - actual flowers, that is, not essences).

    My current favorite bar soap are Kiss My Face olive oil soap, and a shampoo bar that I cannot recall the name of right now. Neither have any fragrances and both are very gentle.

    Alyson, thanks for the tip about the soap bits. Do they leave a residue in the pot, or just wash out?

  5. I use soap bars in the bath (although I do use liquid soap at my sinks to eliminate the "gross" factor for guests. I've also started using shampoo bars and conditioner bars in order to eliminate more plastic bottles. Unfortunately, the soap and conditioner bars aren't locally made but I still think it's an improvement over the liquids in plastic.


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