Go Solid

By Alison Mitchell, Friends of Willow Park and Wodonga Urban Landcare Network

I have been attempting to reduce my impact on our life-giving planet Earth for many years now.  I have found that it is not only an exciting work in progress and journey of discovery, but also an exercise in critical thinking and problem-solving.  Sometimes I am amazed, and a little embarrassed, at how easy it is to overlook simple changes I can make that have significant positive impacts. 

Recently, something prompted me to consider the economic and environmental cost of manufacturing and transporting those plastic bottles filled largely with water, specifically, liquid soap and shampoo.  If you’re like me, you will have purchased your lovely soap-on-tap and shampoo and when the bottles are empty reuse or recycle them without a second thought to any living-lightly alternative.  And yet the alternative is so simple – solid soap and shampoo!  Research led me to discover that it takes 15 trucks to transport the same amount of soap or shampoo in liquid form as it takes to transport one truck of the solid version, which is a significant reduction in transport and energy costs.  More energy is saved because solid soaps and shampoos predominantly come in paper or cardboard packaging rather than plastic.  Plastic can be recycled or reused or repurposed, but it remains a significant pollutant and I am reducing my use and purchase of plastic wherever and whenever possible.

Solid soap and shampoo are quite easy to purchase, but it is worthwhile considering the ingredients list before you do.  For example, I avoid palm oil because of the impact the production of this common ingredient is having on communities and wildlife overseas.  Better still, find someone who makes solid versions of soap and shampoo locally and reduce the sud-miles even further.  I have been using solid soaps and shampoos for over a year now and I’m thrilled with the results.  The trick to using solid shampoo is to rinse with diluted vinegar or lemon juice, wait half a minute and then rinse that out well so you don’t smell like a salad.  My hair is soft and silky and there’s no conditioner needed at all.  I am yet to embark on making my own soap and shampoo although I have been researching how to make a quality version.  Recipes are readily available on the internet, but don’t forget to source sustainable ingredients and practice safe handling when making your own soap and shampoo.