TL;DR: It’s all about the bar soap, baby. So get familiar with this shower hero. You can’t go wrong with this one for body, this for shampoo, and we’re currently using this aluminum bottled variety for conditioner. And now you and your shower are more climate-friendly.
In our opinion, the shower is the easiest place in the household to “de-plasticize”- our term for removing the plastic packaging from products that don’t need it to function (aka most consumer goods). It’s a satisfying effort that simultaneously catapults you into becoming more climate-friendly, because plastic is made from the extraction and processing of fossil fuels, and humanity’s use of fossil fuels is largely responsible for global warming.
Ok, back to the shower. The reason the shower is arguably the easiest place to start eliminating plastic is all thanks to one of the greatest inventions of all time: bar soap. We absolutely love bar soap here at Gen E. The bar of many soaps is simple, efficient, and versatile. It’s purpose is to clean and it does just that all on its own. No unnecessary accessories or components needed. To use, you pick it up, pass it through water, lather, rub it over whatever you’re cleaning, give it a quick rinse, then put it back down. Boom. It’s an inherently perfect product.
Now, finding bar soap sans outer packaging is not so easy, as you do have to seek out specialty retailers that sell ‘naked’ bar soaps. That said, the next best option is to look for bar soap in recycled paper, then be sure to recycle that paper. But since our objective here is to rid plastic from your shower, avoid bar soap packaged in plastic. Duh.
Another pro about bar soap is that many brands make it. Chances are your favorite skincare brand does a bar, so feel free to start there. We also like to buy bar soaps during our travels because it’s something we always need and use, plus it’s fun to try different ones from different cultures (ie luxurious French varieties). Not to mention, bar soap makes a great gift while passive-aggressively nudging the recipient to make this easy plastic-free swap.
In conclusion, we love the bar soap in form and function. It single-handedly satisfies the purpose of showering – to get clean. And whatever you’re cleaning, there’s a bar for that. No need to get fussy about it, because after all, soap is soap is soap, ya’ll. Now lather up.
Pro tip: use a soap dish, since you don’t want your bar living in a puddle. Just don’t make it plastic.
Bar Soap: Body
Good old Dove bar soap – Why mess with a classic? It’s inexpensive, easy to hold and handle, smells nice, doesn’t strip your skin of its natural oils, and readily available. Also, for those who may raise an eyebrow wondering how this mass-produced, conglomerate-backed soap rates in terms of toxicity and ingredients, well we’ve got good news. The unscented sensitive skin version actually nabs the best rating from respectable industry watch group EWG.
Bar Soap: Shampoo
Meow Meow Tweet – These have a nice feel and lather. They’re also moisturizing, so depending on your hair type, you may find you can skip conditioner.
J.R. Liggets – We are loving this one that lathers up and rinses squeaky clean. Perfect for those who want to keep their locks weightless. You can find this brand at Whole Foods.
Bar Soap: Conditioner
Ok, we admit that finding a good bar conditioner isn’t so easy. Mainly we find them frustrating to use in that they can tug on hair, and it’s just awkward to rub a hard bar that isn’t supposed to lather over your hair to soften it. The thing is, conditioner was developed to put moisture and oils back into your hair because traditional shampoos strip them out. It’s a vicious man-made cycle. So whether you actually need conditioner is a question worth contemplating. Note that most bar shampoos are inherently pretty darn moisturizing, so see how it goes. You could also use a moisturizing agent (like an oil) in your hair post-shower, which bumps that problem over to another article.
All that said, when it comes to conditioner, our preference is to go for the aluminum bottle variety because aluminum can be recycled indefinitely, and it enjoys the highest rate of recycling. Plus some companies are creating circular ecosystems where you can send back your empty bottles for them to refill or reuse. We think circular systems like this are a big part of our climate-friendly future, and supporting these trailblazers now will help accelerate the availability and adoption of this important and practical form of consumption.
Plaine Products Conditioner – This bottle will last you forever because you don’t need much per use. We like that the first ingredient is aloe, which is moisturizing and light. Plus this company has a refill system, so you can send your empties back to be used again and again.
Other shower things we’re still scouting
The Razor – If you’re reading this, you probably already have a razor. So keep using the one you have since that’s the smartest move for the planet (and your wallet). When it comes time to replace the razor itself, well you’re probably bought into the brand that made your razor handle, and we’re hard pressed to find high performance razors that don’t come housed in plastic. We’re keeping our eyes peeled on this one…
Face Wash – This is very personal and depends on your skin type. Best to find one without added fragrances. Look out for a future article on the best versions by skin type.