I have a confession to make. For the better part of the last 17 years (that’s more than half of my life), I’ve been using fancy-pants body wash instead of good old fashioned bar soap in the shower. And when Mr. PoP and I moved in together, he started using it too.
I swear, I wasn’t always this wasteful. But when I was thirteen two things happened.
- I had disposable income. With a few reliable babysitting gigs in my day planner, I was rolling in dough in ways that I had never dreamed about as a kid with no allowance.
- My 15-year-old brother (with whom I shared a shower – and soap!) started smelling like a 15-year-old boy. You know, the way you might imagine Marjory, the Trash Heap from Fraggle Rock, smelling after a day ripening in the sun. Who wants to share a bar of soap with that?
Enter trips to the mall and Bath and Body Works with a group of giggling middle-school girls. I did eventually mature beyond the scented body washes that (in the words of an old friend) smelled like I had “f***ed a fruit farmer”. And thankfully for Mr. PoP, that happened before he started using my soap. =)
So when this summer I found 10 or so bars of soap that had been accumulating in our bathroom cabinets for the past four years, I realized how wasteful it was of me to keep going out and buying body wash while perfectly good soap was sitting there unused. Thus began the Great Bar Soap Experiment of 2012.
Rules of the Experiment
- I couldn’t buy any more liquid body wash until all the bar soap was used up.
- The only purchase I could make was a soap holder with some nice drain holes since I can’t stand it when soap gets slimy from sitting in undrained water.
Easy enough, right?
How Did The Experiment Go?
I started with some of the more fancy-pants soaps first, figuring they would be the closest approximation to the body wash to which I had grown accustomed. These were nice hand-made scented glycerine soaps that were made by friends. I have vague recollections of one smelling of lavender, and another that smelled like MAN. Okay, technically I think it’s called “musk” , but it was definitely a masculine scent. We moved on to the bars of Dove that had been following us around since Mr. PoP’s last bachelor apartment (that he hadn’t lived in for at least 4 years), and eventually closed out the experiment with some smaller bars of soap that had been gifted to me in various gift baskets over the years.
And it was fine. I guess I shouldn’t be shocked by this. But it was absolutely fine. Turns out a bar of Dove functions just as well as a bottle of Dove body wash. My hats are off to you, Body Wash Marketing Professionals, for a job well done oh these many years.
In hindsight, it seems as though I’ve spent the better part of the last seventeen years paying a huge mark-up for water… and for plastic. The plastic is probably the part of this experiment that I’ve been the most cognizant of, since the waste associated with a bar of soap is noticeably less than a bottle of body wash, even if both containers end up in the recycling bin.
What Did Mr. PoP Think?
Over the holidays, I was unwrapping the last bar of soap from the stash I had uncovered nearly 6 months before, and was curious as to whether Mr. PoP wanted to switch back to body wash or to keep the bar soap up. Here’s the conversation.
Mrs: “Hey babe, how do you think the bar soap experiment has gone?”
Mr: “The what? What are you talking about?”
Mrs: “The experiment we’ve been doing of using only bar soap the last six months.”
Mr: “We only had bar soap? It was fine, I guess. I didn’t notice.”
Mrs: “How could you not notice? Do you even use soap? Eww! That’s gross!”*
So I guess it’s safe to say that I was the only one concerned with what was in the shower in the first place, and it turns out that it doesn’t matter to me as much as I originally thought.
What Else Am I Missing?
I don’t think the savings from using bar soap are going to be earth shattering, especially since I had tended to get pretty good deals on body wash between stock-up sales and coupons. But it does make me wonder what other quality assumptions that I should be questioning in the name of cost (and environment!) savings.
- Bar shampoo and conditioner?
- Detergents other than Tide? (apparently I’m not the only one who insists on Tide since it’s now become a black market currency…)
- Single ply toilet paper?
- Seriously… what else is up for grabs here?
What are some of the things that you’ve switched from for a cost or environmental savings that you haven’t noticed a negative effect quality-wise?
* Lest you get the wrong idea, Mr. PoP is one of the cleanest guys I’ve ever known, so the whole idea of him not using soap in his twice-daily showers is a bit of a reductio ad absurdum.