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In Praise of Soap

Updated: Jan 9, 2020

There’s been a lot of focus recently on how our food is over-packaged and what our coffee chains are doing to reduce plastic waste but there seems to be very little focus on those vast incubators of plastic containers, the chain chemists, namely Boots and Superdrug in the UK. Why are we outraged about plastic fruit punnets when we casually stroll past endless isles of shampoo and shower gel without even a shudder at how much single use plastic there is on display?

Behind the scenes efforts are being made to pressurise these big companies and the pharmaceutical industries they support to increase the amount of recycled plastics they use in their bottles but for many of us that feels like a cynical attempt to look like they actually care and at the very least is just skirting around the real issue. A survey conducted by Mintel in July this year revealed that plastic pollution is the biggest environmental concern among UK shoppers and that the reduction in packaging made from plastic (rather than the use of more recycled plastic) is the kind of progress that is considered vital.

If you would now never even consider buying a plastic water bottle and always hand over your own reusable cup at coffee shops the next obvious and very easy step is to ditch the shower gel bottle and replace it with soap.

Soap? I hear you ask snootily, how very redolent of Fray Bentos pies, and 70’s blackouts. Also, there seems to be a theme developing here as it wasn’t long ago that I was banging on about the resurgence of cargo pants. What next, pogo sticks are the latest exercise craze?

For those of you who are too young to remember a tinned pie or candlelit meals in unromantically freezing kitchens you should know that before the now ubiquitous Imperial Leather shower gel was Imperial Leather soap. It was the fanciest soap on the supermarket shelves and it had an exciting gold label that mysteriously managed to stay attached to the soap until it was perched on the top of a tiny sliver.

How long did that take? Ages.

Soap lasts for ages and that will be your first adjustment to make in this world of constant gratification and millennial desire to indulge. You and that bar of soap are in it for the long haul, so long in fact that by the time that it has become so small that using it has become fiddly and you have to pick it up from the shower tray six times before you’ve finished, you will feel genuinely sad to throw it in the bin. Sad but richer both in eco credentials and money. My estimate is that one bar of soap can outlast up to six decent sized bottles of shower gel.

Millennials rejoice however because in its 21st century iteration (yes I am going to use that word in every single blog post) your choice of artisan made, cruelty free, organic, vegan, hand milled, hydrating, softening, gorgeously scented soap offerings is endless. You can spend your time between soap bars agonising over the very difficult choice of which little block of loveliness is going to caress your body for the next few months. And believe me a time will come very soon when spotting a bottle of shower gel in a friend’s shower will make you question their place in your eco-conscious life.

The best soaps are of course made in the UK from organic and cruelty free ingredients, and here are a few to get you started. Such is my passion for soap I even have a MoHo one cooking up on the stove right now (metaphorically) so look out for an announcement on insta soon!

This site has such delicious looking offerings it seriously made my mouth water. In fact, I have a bar of this beauty on its way right now and I can't wait.

Like a 'calming cup of spiced chai with a curl of lemon' apparently. Sounds amazing.

Sounds a bit like a Mojito so it must be good.

I like the no nonsense attitude of this one.

If you want to go even further and explore the possibilities of shampoo and conditioner bars then take a look at this article in the Independent:


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