Liquid Soap vs. Bar Soap: The Environmental and Health Consequences
People may have their different preferences. However, when it comes to the bottom of it, what matters most is which soap is kinder to our planet and your health?
You probably guessed right…liquid soaps — in their three-quarters-filled plastic containers — have the bigger environmental footprint. After all, plastic bottles contain Bisphenol A (BPA), the chemical used to make the plastic hard and clear. BPA is an endocrine disruptor which has been proven to be hazardous to human health. It has been strongly linked to a host of health problems including certain types of cancer, neurological difficulties, early puberty in girls, reduced fertility in women, premature labor, and defects in newborn babies — to name a few examples. BPA enters the human body through exposure to plastics such as bottled drinks and cleaning products. So…yeah, of course, you already knew that it doesn’t take an expert to tell you that plastic contaminates more than no plastic.
But that’s only the beginning. There’s more to liquid soap’s environmental toll than just its plastic containers. Let’s briefly trace the journey of liquid soap to catch the full story. At the site of manufacturing, liquid soap requires excessive packaging. In fact, this type of soap can come with up to 20 times more packaging than its humble alternative bar of soap.
Once on the road to store shelves, liquid soaps once again contaminate more than bar soaps. On top of their bulky plastic packaging, they contain a lot of water, meaning they’re heavier and more spacious, thus reducing their efficiency when it comes to shipping. This has a substantial impact in terms of their carbon footprint from transportation.
However, that’s not where its harmful journey ends. Once these liquid soaps finally end up in our bathroom sinks, their overly generous pump dispensers (or perhaps our bad habits) lead us to use more of it unnecessarily. In fact, studies have found that we use about seven times more soap per wash when using liquid vs. bar soap.
So, whereas the bar soap would continue on your bathroom sink, your liquid soap has finished. The plastic container ends up in the landfill, and it’s time to buy your new liquid soap — a process, that as we have seen, is unnecessarily harmful to our planet.