The Great Soap Debate
Could your grandparents have imagined a world in which soap is a topic of debate? It's unlikely. However, as talks about the environment's safety become conversations no longer reserved for hippies or farmers, all habits of yesteryear are being reassessed. Even those practices that started in 2800 B.C., when soap first reared its lovely head in Babylon, need reassessment. So here we are – 2019’s Great Soap Debate.
Are you a liquid or a bar person? According to a study ran by market research firm Mintel, 55% of us believe that bar soap is less convenient than liquid soap. 48% of us think bars are laden with germs after use. And, typically, bars are seen as harsher on our hands than liquid soaps. Overall, bar soaps' reputation has taken a beating over the past couple of decades. So, if you answered liquid at the beginning of this paragraph, it's very understandable. But now is the time to rethink our hesitations and take a look at the larger picture. Here are a few facts to keep in mind next time you're browsing for hand sanitation.
Let's talk earth. According to Bill Chameides, former dean and professor emeritus of Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment, liquid soap's carbon footprint is about 25% greater than that of bar soap. Typically, liquid soap uses 7-10x more energy to make, releasing 7-10x more carbon emissions. On top of that, average hand-washers utilize 6x more liquid soap than bar soap when washing their hands. Now, look beyond use. 6x more soap means 6x more raw materials, 6x more shelf space to store, and 6x more resources to transport. 6x more for the same clean. It's time to streamline.
Studies run by research firm Mintel showed that some of us, especially those 18-24 years old, believe that bar soap becomes dirty after a single-use. That's because bar soaps do hold onto germs. However, a 1988 study by Dial showed those germs do not move from soap to hand after a good wash. While bar soaps certainly look yucky after a bit of use, there's no risk in getting dirtier when using one.
Now, let money talk. Bar soap costs less to make and therefore costs less to purchase. A bar of soap typically costs one-third of what a bottle of the liquid costs. Bar soap's packaging is more ergonomic, which means it's more convenient to package, ship, and stock. Buy in bulk, and save a fortune on cleanliness and closet space.
The facts are out, and the results are evident. Bar soaps are better for the environment and the wallet. Word for the wise bar user – opt for less water! Studies show that bar soap users utilize 30% more water to wash their hands than when using liquids. As we launch forward into a more conscious culture, its time to think more critically about our daily habits, no matter how convenient or embedded they are into our lives. Start with your soap. Tell us, what's next?
Words: James Francis Kelley
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