This week, we'll be discussing soaps! Specifically, whether or not you should be using bar soaps or body wash. The decision to use bar soap or body wash may be perceived as one based purely on personal preference, but it’s really one with more consequence than that. Today, we’ll be highlighting which of the two soap types is more beneficial in terms of both your personal wellbeing, and the environment’s as well.
Solid or Liquid
For starters, bar soap is typically fat based, made from either animal or vegetable fats or oils and water. Body wash tends to be derived from detergents, with added chemicals called surfactants, which help to clean your body. However, it is worth noting that soap doesn’t always come in bar form, and detergent isn’t exclusively liquid: castile soaps may be liquid, and bars with enough added chemicals may classify as detergents.
The Cost of Clean
However, when it comes down to which is better for the environment, the answer is bar soap: liquid soap takes five times more energy than bar soap to produce, and twenty times more to package. Additionally, people tend to use six times more liquid soap per wash than bar soap. This means that not only is bar soap better for the environment, but it is also likely to be better for your skin (as you are likely to use less) and your wallet (as it is likely to last longer). Additionally, detergents are usually petroleum based, and some of the chemicals added to them include marine pollutants and potential hormone disruptors.
(photo: soapboax soaps)
A Diamond In The Rough
That being said, we’ve had our eye on SoapBox Soaps, a sustainable soap company founded eight years ago, in a dorm room at American University. Inspired to wield business as a tool to enact positive social change, founder David Simnick, and his best friend Eric Vong, put their heads together to create SoapBox Soaps. Their first international donation was to the Church of the Living God in Kenya in 2011, and their first appearance in a retail location occurred shortly after. Today, they’ve made over three million global donations, and their products can be found in stores across the nation. Aiming to tackle the issue of poor hygiene in developing nations, SoapBox matches each purchased bar with a donation, and also aims to educate communities on hygiene skills, as well as how to make soap themselves.
A Cleaner World
SoapBox is partnered with Clean the World, a Florida based B-corp focused on providing developing communities with resources and education on hygiene and cleanliness. Donated soap bars are made from shaved down, sanitized, and recycled hotel soap bars, which are given to homeless shelters and food drives domestically. Internationally, SoapBox collaborates with local markets and soap makers to locally source soap, and donate it to schools, orphanages, medical centers, and similar institutions. To promote hygiene education, the company has partnered with a plethora of NGOs and non-profits. By working locally in its respective markets, the company maintains a relatively low carbon footprint, as they do not have to worry about shipping costs, and they also avoid introducing foreign competition to local markets. Additionally, all their bottled products are packaged in recycled materials; 100% recycled fibers, to be precise.
(photo: soapbox soaps)
Neither Black Nor White
SoapBox Soaps is yet another in a long list of examples of what happens when a single person commits himself to making a difference. From its humble roots as a pot, a spoon, and a dorm stove, David Simnick has grown his company into a far-reaching health service, hoping to sustainably serve and educate as many people as possible, in as many ways as possible: each bar of soap sold sees one donated; each bottle of liquid hand soap sold sees a month of clean water given to a child in need; and each bottle of body wash sold sees a child receive a year of free essential vitamins. Bar soap may be better than body wash in terms of its effects on your body and the ocean, but as it consists primarily of animal or vegetable-based fats, it has a much larger requirement in terms of terrestrial resources. While undoubtedly the healthier, more sustainable option, body wash may still be a viable product depending on the environmental issue you as a consumer are more deeply concerned about. It’s a good thing, then, that companies like SoapBox provide eco-friendly versions of both those very products.
(Cover Photo: soapbox soaps)