Waving A Watery Goodbye

Why do we even use shower gel anyway?

There has been a lot of talk over the past few months (well actually, since the BBC documentary 'Blue Planet II') about the issue with single use plastics. They've appeared all over the news of late, all over our oceans (for a very long time) and public awareness of this issue has never been higher.

This caused me (and Anneka) to think about how much plastic we use in our house, and what small changes we could do to reduce the use where possible. We'd discussed shower gel quite a bit, and I began to wonder why we actually even use it. This led on to a discussion about our childhood and remembering how we use to use soap to wash. I wondered why we (or anybody for that matter) stops using soap and switches to shower gel. I haven't been able to answer that particular question, and I can't even remember the day that I put down a bar of soap and picked up a single use plastic bottle of shower gel. But it did happen at some point.

From there, I remembered the dreaded bar of 'Imperial Leather'. My memories of soap are entirely of this. A waxy, scummy, dry-skin inducing, horrible product. (Maybe that's why we all switch to shower gel at some stage?!) I wondered what modern soap was like, and if it could be better than it used to be. I then worked out how many bottles of shower gel we got through in a month. I used about two and Anneka used four (she goes to the gym three times a week and just naturally uses way too much anyway!) So on average, we used 6 per month! That was a real shock to both of us. Even if it gets recycled, its still bad for the environment! So I decided that we (it's a democracy in our house you know!) would try soap instead of shower gel, and see how we felt about it. Once our existing supply of shower gel was used up, we would both switch to soap.

The first soap we tried
I tweeted about what I would be doing, and included Julia Bradbury in the tweet. She asked me to let everyone know how it went:

When the nation's favourite walker asks you to keep her and others updated, how can anyone refuse?! So I decided to make a private experiment public, and tweet about it every day for 28 days. I created the hashtag #28DaySoapChallenge, and on the 28th April my experiment began:

You can find the entire thread here.

Our one bar of soap lasted a whole month! Anneka started using it slightly before I did, so it ran out before the end of the 28 days. I then switched to another brand:

The second soap we tried

The first soap we used didn't provide much lather (considerably less than shower gel) so I was worried that this would be a one-time experiment. I needn't have worried though, as the second bar provides loads of lather. So much, in fact, that I had to alter my lathering routine in order to reduce the amount of lather I had at my disposal!

The showering experience is somewhat different when using soap compared to shower gel. I never felt as 'fresh' after, although I was clean. Also, the soap didn't leave me smelling of anything, unlike shower gel. At first I have to admit that the experience was a little jarring, and I considered going back to shower gel for at least the first week and a half. However, I stuck with it and it was worth doing.

I'm happy to say that, after 28 days of trying soap, we will never buy shower gel again! (Subject to fantastic vegan, palm oil free, etc. soaps being available of course!) Additionally, we are currently trying out a shampoo bar to see if we can get rid of plastic bottles of shampoo! We also have a shaving bar waiting for when our can of shaving gel runs out! Our switch to soap means that over the course of twelve months we'll have reduced our plastic impact by 72 bottles!

I'd love to know what you all think, so feel free to comment below or on social media!

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