Since July is designated plastic free month check it out here: https://www.plasticfreejuly.org/ I just thought I might post on some of my favourite and easiest ways to reduce plastic use. For me the big one is plastic free toiletries, not only do they reduce plastic but they are great products for travel/camping. Having used solid shampoo and solid conditioner bars I will never go back. Shampoo bars are something I have seen talked about a lot, but I just thought I would share my experiences, to me they are the best thing since the proverbial sliced bread and I would not be without them. In brief; they are compact, they are solid, no liquid, so no problems with getting through airport security with them in your carry on, they are generally made from natural ingredients, (with some exceptions, will explain below), they generally contain no palm oil, or ethically sourced palm product, they are long lasting and they can double up as a body soap, so space saving when on the move. A great product for travel/camping and good for the environment.
The first bar I ever used is still my favourite and that is the Lush Seanik bar. This compact little gem is the equivalent of three 250g shampoo bottles, so highly concentrated. Lush claim the bar can last up to three months, to be honest I have never really kept track of how long a bottle of shampoo lasts, but the lush bar, if I am only using it on my hair and not as an all round soap, easily lasts longer than two months and it must be close to the three months as advertised, as long as I look after it, and this is the thing, shampoo bars can’t just be left in the shower or put away wet. I must admit that the first bar I bought did not last long, it was a bit of a learning experience. Rule one: between use, keep it dry. I left that first bar in the shower and it soon disintegrated into a jelly mess. After talking to staff at Lush I was willing to give it another go, this time I stored it in a lush tin and I always dried the bar before putting it away. Another problem I have seen reported is; finding the tin hard to open, especially with wet hands and yes I can attest that I also had that experience, solution; I always remember to take lid off before getting hands wet and getting into shower. Third problem; sometimes when the bar is new it can be a bit hard to dislodge from the tin, but to be honest a firm shake into my hand and the bar dislodges, sometimes with the help of a well placed finger nail, it has never broken or become stuck, but getting a new bar out of the tin can be a bit tricky.
The other issue with Lush is that it does contain the surfactant, sodium lauryl sulfate, (SLS), it is the thing that makes the bar foam up into such a rich lather, alternative shampoo bars, like Ethique for example, don’t contain SLS. SLS is not great for the environment, something to be aware of, but in the bars you are actually using very little of it, getting a fantastic lather with a minimal amount, much less than a normal shampoo. The other thing to know is, that SLS is derived from palm kernel. In short the Lush shampoo bars feel great to use but they are not as good environmentally as Ethique for example. Ethique primarily use coconut derived surfactants, for me they don’t lather quite as well, but are a lovely gentle product and I am still currently using them. I purchased an Ethique sampler box, so I could try out a few products, even though the samples are small they are lasting quite awhile. Where Ethique really beats Lush is with the conditioner bars, which are fantastic and definitely my go to product for a conditioner bar, the Wonder bar is great to use and when I finish off the sample box, I will purchase another Wonder bar.
When I first used the Lush conditioner bars, they felt weird, it felt like I was not getting enough of the product into my hair and yet as my hair dried I found it was softer than ever. The effect on my hair was great, it just took some getting used to and Ethique’s Wonder bar is even better still. I have tried both the Daddy O conditioner and the Jungle bar from Lush, the jungle bar was the best of the two. Ethique is a great option, as the name implies they are an ethical product, so if you are seeking to make a difference in terms of environmental impact Ethique is the way to go, no palm oil, all natural, no animal testing and only biodegradable packaging, no plastic. While I like the shampoo bars, the ones in the sample box haven’t convinced me to give up my Lush bar.
Lush might not be perfect, they do use SLS, but at least they are transparent and ethically guided. Personally I love using the Seanik shampoo bar, it has been great for my hair, super gentle, even on my intensely coloured hair and the smell is just sublime. When I switched from bottle shampoo, to the Lush bar, the fact that it lathered like a shampoo made the switch fairly easy. Is it cost effective? There seems to be some debate about this, I think cost is, comparable, but maybe slightly more expensive, if the concern is environmental well being, than the cost is secondary. Shampoo bars do seem to last and despite the initial outlay, they offer value for money if you use them correctly, and that goes back to making sure you keep them dry between use. When we are camping I generally dry the bar on the dirty t shirt I just changed out of. I used to carry a face cloth, just for drying the shampoo bar but realised that was redundant, when anything to hand would do and a t shirt was perfect.
I have been slowly trying to move away from plastic packaged toiletries, the three easiest things to give up have been shower gel, shampoo and conditioner. With companies like Lush and Ethique it is easy to buy product completely free of plastic packaging, and just that one little thing can make a big difference in terms of plastic waste. I love the little lush tins, they make storing and transporting the products easy. From a travel/camping point of view the sheer portability of such products are a great advantage. It is worth knowing that both Lush and Ethique make a range of other products either free of packaging, “naked”, as Lush describe them, or with biodegrade packaging, including body lotion, face moisturiser and deodorants. I have not tried the moisturiser bars yet but I am slowly replacing products with things like solid bars, which are packaging free, would love to hear other peoples experiences and recommendations.