That relief when you move to live on your own where you can control what you bring into your place is such a peace of mind.
Before moving out, my kind uncle gave me conventional liquid dish soap in a pump bottle so that I didn’t have to buy. After I used it all up, I immediately looked for a more sustainable kind. First, I visited Central Co-Op, a local store not so far from my apartment. There is a large bulk section full of all kinds of products, from dry food, self-care products, to household products. I filled one of my jars with liquid dish soap. When I went back, I poured the soap into the old pump bottle and kept the rest in my cardboard box. I was over the moon that I can now do dishes without buying bottled soap every single time.
I discovered a better approach once I started my job at Scoop Marketplace, Seattle’s zero waste grocery store. Our bulk section kept growing quickly. We didn’t have liquid dish soap at that time, but only dish soap bars. I was skeptical about the idea of using a soap bar to clean dishes. For my whole life, I had always used the liquid one. I couldn’t imagine that it would be err… practical enough. Once I got to try at our store. I scrubbed a sponge on the bar and cleaned our scoops and fennels. As I thought, it’s not practical at all. It’s uncomfortable and the bar kept slipping back and forth on the bar plate. Was this going to work?
But after a few more trials, I got the hang of it and could handle it better. Then I got to the point that I kinda like it, till I couldn’t wait to use it. I bought one bar to use in my apartment after I finished all the liquid soap from Central Co-op. It’s interesting to observe the changes of the bar over time – the dent on the bar and how it gets smaller overtime. The uncomfortable part now became a norm that doesn’t bother me anymore. It’s a charm in a way. What surprised me was that it does an amazing job at cleaning all kinds of stains. My dishes, glassware, cookware are completely clean and don’t have that unnecessary fragrant smell. In fact, they don’t smell at all which I think that’s how it’s supposed to be – the truly clean finish.
To these days, I still use that first soap bar I bought from Scoop. It’s been several months and I haven’t gone through half of the bar yet! I cut it into small pieces to use for washing hands and washing dishes. This big block of bar seems to last forever. No doubts, it helps save me a lot of money.
Now let’s talk a bit about the science behind it. When I still used conventional liquid soap in my routine, what I did wrong was I didn’t care much about its ingredients or whether or not those ingredients are safe. As long as it could thoroughly clean my dishes, didn’t itch my hands, and was not expensive, I was all cool with it. Until I found out more about the chemicals commonly found in these products and how they can affect us and the environment, I was more than ready to turn away from them as soon as possible.
What are they and what are the effects? Have a look here, you will find out that you can’t really pronounce the ingredients correctly. Absorbing through your skin, they can potentially harm your nervous system, the levels of estrogen and testosterone, reproductive effects, can cause skin irritation, and so much more! Not only they are dangerous to us humans, they are harmful to our environment as well when they flow down the drain. Even though you can protect yourself by wearing rubber gloves, other creatures including the nature in the same ecosystem have no protection.
Dish soap bars, on the other hand, are way more natural and eco friendly. The one that I use, at least, is olive oil based soap, vegan, and cruelty-free. What I love besides the ingredients is that, as a solid bar, it can be sold package-free. This is a huge impact in terms of reducing packaging trash. I have nothing else to say but can we all start doing this right now? It’s an easy swap but the impact is powerful.
If you don’t know where to start, browse the internet with the keywords: natural dish soap bar, vegan dish soap bar, or similar keywords. Best practice is to go get one from a local store in your neighborhood before ordering online. If you have a chance to be around Central District in Seattle, come and grab one from Scoop Marketplace. No affiliate, this is a great place with great products that I helps me so much on my low-waste journey and I think it’s worth sharing.