No one enjoys seeing plastic floating in lakes and streams. No one likes seeing it crushed and filthy on the roadside. Almost everywhere it ends up, plastic waste is unwelcome. Even at the recycling plant.
The EPA reports less than 10% of plastics in the United States get recycled. Some plastics get incinerated, but the majority winds up in a landfill. Frustratingly, the bulk of this is from single-use items that were destined, from the start, to be wasted.
Case in point: Liquid hand soap bottles
According to statista.com, more than 300 million U.S. consumers use liquid hand soap. Estimates of the number of discarded bottles this results in vary. Some place it around 600 million a year. Others estimate as high as 1.4 billion. Regardless, the result is thousands upon thousands of pounds of discarded plastic.
“We’ve found that most people are trying to be responsible and recycle,” says Christopher Gill, vice president of eco-friendly soap tablet brand Nature Lake. “Unfortunately, once those plastic bottles have been made, they’re unlikely to get through the recycling process and actually be repurposed.”
Consumer choices can make a difference
The best way to keep 1.4 billion plastic dispenser bottles out of landfills is to not make them in the first place. Consumers have power around this, particularly when purchasing habits change en masse. But selection and availability are key to making change possible.
Fortunately, there are multiple high-quality, easy-to-access alternatives available for liquid hand soap.
Option 1: Tablet-based liquid hand soap
This might be surprising, but the truth is, you don’t need to give up liquid hand soap to stop consuming it in single-use plastic bottles.
The Nature Lake foaming hand soap kit includes two reusable glass dispenser bottles with non-slip silicone sleeves and four tablets. To turn a tablet into soap, you simply fill the bottle with warm water and drop the tablet in. In minutes you have a full bottle of hand soap with only a small pouch to discard.
“Tablet-based products require less fuel to ship, take up less storage space and never result in a wasted plastic bottle,” Gill explains. “We truly believe tablets are the future of sustainable personal care and cleaning.”
Option 2: Artisan soap bars
Solid artisan soap bars are a fun option, in part because the sky’s the limit on colors and scents. From neon pink cupcake shapes to sparkly bars with elaborate motifs, if you can think it, you can probably find an artisan selling it.
Of course, the drawback to artisan soap bars is availability. It can be tricky to find a soap maker with a formula you like and your desired scent or design consistently in stock. You’ll also want to invest in a soap dish, unless you like chasing down runaway bars.
Option 3: Bulk bar soap
For those who like it old school, bulk bar soap is another option. These mass-manufactured bars are inexpensive and readily available. However, their cardboard boxes often come sealed with plastic, which hurts their sustainability case.
Pro tip: before committing to a bulk pack of 12 or 24 bars, try buying just one bar to be sure you’re happy with how the formula feels and smells. That way you’re not stuck with a year’s supply of soap you don’t like.
Single-use plastic can be a thing of the past
It’s encouraging to see how many eco-friendly and affordable alternatives to disposable bottles of liquid hand soap are available. As movement toward conscientious, earth-friendly consumption grows, it seems more than plausible that tablet-based hand soap could be the way of the future.