1.18.2019

Intentional Living: Switching to Bar Soaps

Find a good bar soap
It doesn't need packaging
Bubble germs away.

One of my favorite sustainable swaps in 2018 was from liquid dish soap, shampoo, and conditioner to bars.


I was hesitant about the change. In my mind, a bar soap could never bubble and clean grease like a liquid. But I was wrong. I saw a good review about Beehive Alchemy's Big Block Kitchen Soap, about how it actually cut through grease in the kitchen, so I wanted to give it a try. It's made in the tradition of Savon de Marseille, which creates a hard soap using at least 72% olive oil and other eco-friendly ingredients. And it works beautifully! After 6 months of use, I have no complaints and feel the Big Block works just as well, if not better, than a liquid eco dish soap. I probably have 4 months of soap block left, so I estimate one block lasts me 10 months.

I highly recommend buying the soap tile to keep the bar in place. I tried using a smooth soap dish and found everything was much too slippery. Swish a wet brush on the soap surface and scrub your dishes clean!

All of my kitchen brushes are made by B├╝rstenhaus Redecker. They have wood handles and natural fibers, and hold up well over time (just remember to rinse them out and store them bristles-up.) My favorite is the Tampico Fiber Dish Brush. All work wonderfully with the Big Block Kitchen Soap.

I was even more hesitant to start using a shampoo bar. My hair tends greasy, and I'd read reviews from all different hair types about how shampoo bars left their hair feeling dirty. I knew it just wasn't going to be for me. But after the Kitchen Block success, I let shampoo and conditioner bars slip into my cart during a good sale at Package Free Shop. Surely I'd decide my hair was gross like the others, but I'd have made my own decision in the end. I was completely surprised when my hair felt extremely clean, silky, and healthy afterward. From day 1 until now, after over 6 weeks of everyday use, the results haven't waned. I've tried so many biodegradable shampoos and conditioners over the years and have never been happy with the results. This was a completely different experience.

In the photo, the conditioner bars are sitting on top of the shampoo bars. I purchased both in "Hydrator" from Package Free Shop. The pair on the left are new and the pair on the right have been used for just over 6 weeks. I expect about 3 months of use per bar (probably more like 4 months for the conditioner.) To ensure a long life, I highly recommend using the Silicone Soap Dish by Yamazaki Home and placing it away from any water run-off.

Another notable switch away from liquid-in-plastic soap last year was with laundry detergent. While I still use some liquid laundry detergents from The Laundress for denim, wool, and workout clothes, I've switched to powder for our regular laundry (everyday clothing, bedding, towels). I don't love the ingredients usually recommended for making your own powdered laundry detergent, and I don't want to shave a bar of soap to make flakes, so I found DanSoap All Natural Laundry Detergent, which is completely biodegradable and comes in a compostable container! It does a great job getting our laundry clean. For the tougher loads, I add a scoop of Nellie's All Natural Oxygen Brightener. It comes in a reusable metal tin, though unfortunately the powder is packed in a plastic bag (which I recycle at Target).

I hope this encourages you to take a next step in your intentional living decisions! We can make a big impact when we find sustainable replacements, especially for the products we use every day.

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