November Total: There is no away

-7 Chip Bags
-5 Mesh Bags
-1 Organic Cane Sugar Bag
-12 oz Coffee Bag
-1 Padded Envelope
-1 Decrepit, Reusable Grocery Bag
-3 Almond Milks
-1 Orange Juice Container
-12 oz Sparkling Water
-2 Thin Plastic Packaging (bread, TP)
-3 Dog Biscuit Bags
-2 Noodle Bags
-Frozen Pea Bag
-5 Bread Bags
-2 Gallon Ziplocks
-Miscellaneous Film
-1 Pretzel Stick Bag
-1 Computer Mouse Packaging
-2 Cranberry Bags
-6 Cheese Bags
-1 Organic Condensed Milk Container
-1 Shredded Cheese Container
-1 Basil Container
-18 Lids
-2 Single Use Coffee Lids
-1 4oz. Saline Solution Bottle
-2 Styrofoam Plates
-1 Polypropylene Food Bowl
-1 Pill Container
-1 Toothpaste
-2 Condiment Cups
-1 Pen
-1 Fork
-4 Vegetable Ties
-1 Vitamin Package
-1 Bread Tab
-2 Bar Straws
…and a smorgasborg of other bits and pieces

This month I investigated where “away” is when I throw items in a local trash bin.  It turns out that they get trucked to the Southeastern Massachusetts Resource Recovery Facility SEMASS waste-to-energy facility in West Wareham run by Covanta Energy.

SEMASS Waste to Energy Facility

SEMASS Waste to Energy Facility

On November 22, 2013 I met Patti Howard to get a private tour of the SEMASS facility. Patti greeted me with a firm handshake and a big smile. She has been working at SEMASS for 20 years, first as an accountant and now, because she is a “people person”, as a MSP program coordinator giving tours and presentations about the benefits of incineration. As she gave me an introduction to the facility it was obvious that we were getting into controversial territory. A woman clearly accustomed to conflict, Patti started by admitting that waste to energy facilities are not popular with everyone, but she stressed that people need to “have all the facts” before making judgments about it. She consistently tended towards defensiveness and chose her words deliberately throughout the tour.  She spoke with a firm conviction that we need to reduce our waste coupled with a harsh realism about the amount of trash we currently produce. She said that they Covanta sees trash as a resource and that it is much better to incinerate it than put it in a landfill. When my trash arrives at SEMASS it is dumped onto the “tipping floor”, an expansive room that holds mountains of trash that are inspected for hazardous materials (like propane tanks) and where most ferrous metals are removed with magnets to be recycled. At this point Patti noted with pride that SEMASS is the “largest recycler of metal in Massachusetts”, recovering nearly 40,000 tons of ferrous and non ferrous metals every year

The Tipping Floor

The Tipping Floor

SEMASS currently combusts over a million tons of waste a year, providing 25% of the “renewable energy” in Massachusetts. The facility qualifies as a Class II renewable energy source, giving 50% of its renewable energy credit value to boost local recycling programs. They are able to produce just under 600,000 megawats a year, or enough to power 75,000 homes. But is this the “clean, renewable energy” that Covanta claims it to be?
One of the challenges of incineration is pollution. Even the fanciest modern incinerators send CO2 and supertoxins like dioxins and furans into the air. They liberate toxins bound up in our industrial and municipal waste and release them into the air and water. This inevitably includes chemicals that have been linked to cancer, birth defects, and developmental, endocrinological, neurological, circularoty and reproductive problems. Combustion can even create new toxins that were not in the original waste, like dioxins that are created when items containing chlorine are burned. Globally, incinerators are the leading source of dioxins.
Incinerating does not make waste disappear, it produces ash. “In general, for every 3 tons of waste one shoves into an incinerator we get one ton of ash that requires landfilling” (Annie Leonard The Story of Stuff, 2010, p. 424). The ash is more toxic than the original waste, containing concentrated heavy metals and pollutants. About 1/3 of the SEAMASS facility is devoted to processing the ash, and their emissions of heavy metals and other pollutants consistently measure 60-90% below EPA limits. To avoid groundwater contamination SEMASS collects rainwater in three onsite ponds and has a water treatment plant on site. They also utilize local landfill leachate to meet almost 30% of its water needs and conserve roughly 40 million gallons per year of groundwater resources.

Boiler Aggregate Ash

Boiler Aggregate Ash

Covanta boasts that this ash can be used as landfill cover and does not emit methane like decomposing landfill waste. It has potential to be used as a building material but has not been approved by the state of Massachusetts. It sounded like regulations on incinerators in Massachusetts are stringent and that Covanta was making a sizable effort to “green” their business, but as my nostrils protested the nauseating decomposition and chemical smells throughout the facility I thought it was a stretch to call this energy “clean”. When I asked Patti if the workers at SEAMASS showed physical effects from working at SEAMASS she assured me that HEPA masks were used when appropriate and that high risk workers were tested multiple times a year for negative health effects. If our communities were to shift our focus away from toxin releasing incinerators and towards zero waste programs we could create more jobs. “For every dollar invested in recycling ad zero waste programs, we get ten times as many jobs as in incineration” (Annie Leonard, The Story of Stuff, 2010, p. 429). Not only are there more jobs, these jobs are also cleaner and safer jobs that help conserve resources and create a more long-term solution.
I also think that it is a stretch to call this energy renewable. Ultimately, they depend on fossil fuels and trees for much of their fuel. Recoverable energy could be a more appropriate term. At least 15% of what they combust is food waste that could instead be composted and reused as fertilizer. They burn valuable resources and I can’t help but think that we could produce more energy by conserving rather than combusting. It is like choosing between pulling the plug or turning off the faucet to lower the water level in a bath tub. Turning off the faucet has a less immediate effect, but the tub will never really be empty if you leave it on.  I would much rather see comprehensive composting and reduction initiatives in my town than an incinerator. Until we change our minds over to a reusable mindset, this incinerator will keep on burning. Visiting this incinerator made me more proud than ever of the efforts we have taken this year to reduce our waste!

Sources:
Annie Leonard: The Story of Stuff
Susan Freinkel: Plastic a Toxic Love Story
Charles Moore: Plastic Ocean
SEMASS website and personal communication with P. Howard

August Total: What a heap!

IMG_6418

Total:

1 25 lb Dog Food Bag
8 Chip Bags
17 16oz Single-use Water bottles with caps
2 48oz Almond Milk Bottles
1 Gallon Distilled Water
2 Amazon Shipping Package
1 Sugar Bag
5 Dog Treat Bags
2 Toilet Paper Bag
9 Bread Bags
6 Produce Bags
1 Miscellaneous Plastic cover
1 Miscellaneous Wraps and Films
1 Stapler Package
1 Headphones Package
1 Soy Milk Container
1 Ziplock Bag
3 Cheese Film
2 Frozen Fruit Bags
4 Toiletries Bottles
1 Avocado Bag
15 Lids
1 Fire Wood Mesh
6 Plastic Containers
2 Plastic Cups
1 Small Plastic Plate
5 Pill Containers
2 Glue Sticks
1 Parking Ticket
1 Toothpaste Container
4 Contact Container
1 Fork
Ipad Mini Case

Titan, always down to get his face in our trash, has proven himself a great model, giving scope and scale to our monthly plastic piles.  This one, as you can see, is huge compared to many previous months.  It left us shaking out heads and vowing to do better next month.  This is the point right?  To see the damage we have done?  To know that there is no “away”?  To feel the repercussions of our daily choices as they add up over the year?  I am already dreading the annual total, but I am also excited.  This year has taught us so much, and we have made some meaningful changes to reduce our plastic footprint.  Here are some highlights:

1.  Still no ‘poo.  That’s right, I have not ‘pooed since March, and Brandon hasn’t ‘pooed since 2 months ago.  (I mean shampoo of course!) And to be honest, we don’t see ourselves ever going back to our old ways.  My hair feels healthier and my reason for showering is never “my hair feels greasy” anymore.  But the best part about it is that by using baking soda and apple cider vinegar on our hair the only plastic we produce is the plastic cap to the vinegar bottle, and we are not using any nasty chemicals on our bodies or putting them into our wastewater.  It feels good to no-poo!

2. Never again will we wash chemicals through our laundry again either because, quite frankly, soap nuts rule!  We started using soap nuts in April and have been impressed by their natural ability to clean.   In addition, we are thrilled at how long they last!  I feel like our bag of soap nuts is just as full as when we got it in April.  If you want to give them a try I highly recommend The Laundry Tree because of their commitment to plastic-free, recycled packaging.

Never going back :O)

Mother Earth, I apologize for our pile this month.  We have had victories and failures, and learn more about ourselves and our relationship to you every day!

Homegrown :O)

Homegrown :O)

~Kim

Potato Chips and Ear Plugs: July’s Plastic

July’s Plastic

-2 Califa Farms Almond Milk Bottles
-1 If You Care Dish Soap Bottle
-14 Small Chip Bags
-2 Big Chip Bags
-2 Quorn package
-1 Frozen Corn Package
-3 Dog Treat Bags
-4 Bread Bags
-1 Pizza Dough Bag
-1 Tortilla Bag
-5 Produce Bags
-2 Polystyrene Containers
-22 Daily Contact Cases
-1 Disposable Razor Head
-2 Disposable Water Bottles
-2 Cereal Bag
-10 Lids
-1 Container for Chocolate Covers Graham Crackers
-2 Ear Plugs
-1 Trail Mix Bag
-1 Pretzel Bag
-5 Electircal Tape Cases
-5 Cheese Films
-3 Food Containers (Veggie Cream Cheese, pesto, and unknown)
-1 Frozen Dog Treat Container
-2 Pill Containers
-1 Nature Valley Granola Bar Bag

Titan always gets excited for the end-of-the-month plastic count.  As they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and this month Titan scored my used earplug, seasoned by my inner ear as I spent 3 weeks sleeping in a tent in down east Maine.  Those little foamy nuggets helped me sleep through rainy nights and thunder.  They were then going to provide Titan an indigestible snack, but I managed to chase him down and steal it back before that happened.

July was an unusual month.  I (Kim) was away in Maine starting my grad school program.  Eating in a cafeteria, I couldn’t help but feel like a liar when I brought my plastic home.  My portion of this pile is small, but most of the plastic I used this month was indirect, behind the scenes.  I was also issued an extraordinary number of potato chip bags, which my beast of a stomach gladly accepted, and I wore contacts a lot more than usual.  Brandon is working hard at his school’s summer session/camp.  A portion of our plastic came from the projects he did with his students (bottles), or from his lack of time to cook (aka cereal).  We didn’t realize just how much we balanced each other’s time with cooking and taking care of Titan until I left!  It is so lovely to be reunited after 3 weeks apart :O)

Some plastic-free victories of the month:

-Seeing everyone show up in Maine with Tuperware containers!  Not a single ziplock baggie was used for sandwiches and snack, huzzah!

-Per my request, a bar brought our group’s beers in glass, even though they were serving other’s in plastic.  And all of our waters came in glass AND straw free! Bravo!

-Meeting Bill Coperthwaite, who has the rare propensity for making everything with his own hands.  His yurt (put together without powertools in the 70’s and still holding beautiful and strong) was equipped with hand carved wooden spoons, bowls, even a tape dispenser!

Bill's Yurt!

Bill’s Yurt!

What plastic victories did you have this month?

May’s Monthly Plastic Total

IMG_5919

Tucked into our bin, this month’s total seems neat and manageable.  A closer look, aka dumping it all over my kitchen floor, revealed an expanding smorgasborg of films, bags, caps, containers, bottles, tubes, and tubs.  Included in this pile I found:

-2 Bags stuffed with plastic bags and films (I couldn’t bring myself to individually count them all, this made up the majority of the pile)
-4 Chip Bags
-2 Bubble Wrap Padded Envelopes
-5 Mesh Bags (from lemons, limes, and garlic)
-1 6-pack holder
-1 Toothpaste Tube
-1 Tetra Pak (coconut milk)
-4 plastic cups
-20 Lids
-5 Tubs (cheese, yogurt, pomagranate seeds)
-6 Utensils
-2 Straws
-1 Coffee Bag

Titan being a very good boy and resisting the urge to bury his face in this pile of trash

Titan being a very good boy and resisting the urge to bury his face in this pile of trash

This month I decided to cut back on my totaling posts.  Without weekly tallies I was disconnected from what was accumulating in our plastic bin.  Once covered and out of mind, these pieces now bring back memories of a good times, like our reusable cups from the bacon and beer festival or the wrappers from healthy snacks we snuck into the theater to see the new Star Trek movie.  Dumping it out on my floor felt like flipping through a scrapbook, and I relived my month, good and bad, as I made piles of lids and shoved a bread bag full of plastic films.  In our fast-paced, throw-away culture we never contemplate the life of our waste after we throw it away.  For us, away is still here, in our crawl space.  And week by week be build a scrapbook of memories that will will rediscover at the end of the year.  There is no way we can ignore our plastic footprint this year.

A Day in the Life of a Plastiphobe :OD

No place is more plasticized that the supermarket.  These days everything seems shrink-wrapped, encased, prepared, and packaged.  Over the past couple years Brandon and I have created and adopted many ways to reduce our plastic waste.  Today, on my early morning trip to Whole Foods, I thought I would take you along with me, and show you what we do to keep plastic our of our kitchen.

Here is what came home with me today:

We are what we eat: healthy!

We are what we eat: healthy!

Yum! (and if you look closely in the back you can see Shadow’s fuzzy face wondering what the heck I’m doing)

Here are my rules for shopping:

1. BYOB: Bring your own bags!  This includes produce bags folks.  I have been known to pass up produce because I ran out of bags, or stuff multiple veggies into the same bag to avoid waste.  I also always  go back to my car when I forget my bags in it.  No excuses!  With a little planning you can train yourself to remember.  (See our week 1 post for websites that sell reusable produce bags)

2. Plan ahead.  Going to the grocery store with a plan of what to make for the week can result in a lot less food waste.  This week’s bounty will become:

-Bulgar, arugula, and cannellini salad.
-Baked wild-caught Alaskan salmon with cornmeal-masala roasted brussels sprouts.
-Chickpea cutlets.
-Spicy peanut and eggplant soup.
-Parsnip chips.
-Cauliflower and mushroom pot pie with kalamata olive crust.
-Almond quinoa muffins with currants.
-Fresh carrot juice.
-Vegan jelly donut cupcakes.

Of course, there are bound to be impulse items. For example: how could you resist these beets?? Seriously, they might be the sexiest beets I’ve ever seen!

3. Avoid anything with ingredients you can’t pronounce.  As you can probably tell from the photo above, we make most of what we eat from scratch.  It helps that both of us love to spend time in the kitchen.  In fact, cooking together is one of our favorite ways to spend our evenings.  Our love of food and cooking not only brings joy to our lives, it also has given us more energy and stronger, healthier bodies.  As they say, you are what you eat.  We are not high fructose corn syrup, sodium benzoate, dextrin, and yellow #5.  No!  We are carrots, mushrooms, arugula, and tomatoes!!!

4. Buy local whenever possible.  Local food supports your neighbors rather than big corporations.  Local food reduces your carbon footprint by avoiding the massive amounts of fuel necessary to ship food around the country (and sometimes globe).  It doesn’t get more local than your own garden.  We are so excited to set our seedlings in the coming months!  Another thing I am excited about = farmers markets!  This year we might not need them since we just bought a small CSA share from Rustic Roots Farm.  We will be getting fresh, organic produce delivered to my workplace for about 4 months!  Never heard of CSAs before? Read this!

5. Buy organic whenever possible.  Organic foods are better for the environment because they avoid chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers.  Organic foods are better for your body because they are grown from healthy soils and contain appreciatively higher levels of antioxidants, flavonoids and vitamins than their conventionally grown counterparts.

Here are some tips to avoid plastic:

1. PRODUCE PRODUCE PRODUCE! Nuff said.

2. Use the bulk isle!  This week I bought peanuts and dried garbanzo beans using my homemade produce bags.  You can also use your own container, like a mason jar, and they can weigh it for you before you shop and tare it when you check out.

3. Whole foods has a great butcher/seafood station that will also allow you to use your own container.  If you lack a container they wrap the meat in paper with a small plastic lining, which in my mind is much better than the foam plate-shrink wrap combo around conventional meat.  Their seafood counter is committed to selling only sustainable seafood, although NPR recently did a 3 part series questioning the validity of sustainable fisheries that is worth a listen.  The butcher provides a rating system to let you know how the animals were raised and treated.  All in all, it seems like a better way to buy meat.

Is our refrigerator truly plastic free?

Nope.  But it’s better than average!  Most of our condiments are in jars, but all those pesky lids are plastic.  I broke down this week and bought almond milk, but we get all of our juice in glass jars or we just make it ourself with our juicer (best kitchen appliance I ever bought!).  You can revisit our previous post for my recipe for hommeade soy milk, it’s so easy I am kicking myself for buying the almond milk this week!  We always leave shelf space for some good bottled beer, supporting microbreweries and avoiding the plastic lining in cans.  We store our leftovers in mason jars and glass Tupperware.  The cauliflower was our only plasticized produce this week.  Can’t seem to get the dang vegetable without it!  Sigh.  The most obvious pieces of plastic this week housed the garbanzo flour and almond meal that I bought for baking.  There was no other way… Our freezer is largely unused besides some frozen fruit, ice racks (I am saving up for some stainless steel ones as I type) and a bag of corn that has been used to ice sore joints and muscles for years.

So there you have it!  A shopping trip in true Plastiphobian style!  If you want to learn more about healthy food choices and great recipes here are my favorite resources:

Anything by Michael Pollen (The Omnivores Dilemma, In Defense of Food).  This man’s writing changed my life is so many wonderful ways.

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. (It is also a movie if you are not into the whole reading thing)

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

-Anything, and I mean ANYTHING by Isa Chandra Moskowitz (Veganomicon, Vegan with a Vengeance, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World).  She also has some recipes available online at the Post Punk Kitchen.

-Any cookbook with Molly Katzen’s name on it (The new Moosewood Cookbook, Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health, etc).  You can browse some online recipes here.

Week 10: Save the World, One Straw at a Time!

Week 10:

5 Lids
2 Ziplock Bag
2 Organic Sugar Bags
2 Straws
2 Mini Planting Pots
2 Tempeh Package
25LB Dog Food Bag
Coffee Bag
Tortilla Bag
Pizza Dough Bag
Produce Bag (doh!)
Bread Bag
Surface Cleaner Container
Feta Container
Mozzarella Container
Hummus Container
Grape Tomato Container
Sponge Package (why does my new sponge need plastic wrapping? It is for cleaning!)
Shipping Bag
Scissor Package (You need scissors to get in)
Deodorant Container
Pair of Old Speakers
Expired Triple A Card
Rubber Band
Miscellaneous Bits & Pieces

Buh, not a week to brag about, nor one to condemn.  It was a week of ups and downs.  As a high point I sewed a few more produce bags and I made my own deodorant when mine ran out (equal parts of coconut oil, corn starch, and baking soda! Add a couple drops of an essential oil of your liking for a pleasant scent.  So easy, and it works!).  The low point was seeing the unanticipated straws in our sangrias when we went out to eat.

Which leads me to tonight’s point: straws.  They are so sneaky! In fact, at first, we didn’t even notice we had acquired them!  It wasn’t until my second sip that I realized that the straws would be coming home with us.   Gah! (This later  led to an awkward moment with our waitress as I urgently asked her for my straw back as she kindly cleared the table).

Why do I want to avoid straws?  Well, they fall into the catagory of single use disposables.  That straw, after you use it, is not going anywhere.  Straws are typically made of #2 or #5 plastic.  Both of these plastics are technically recyclable, but since the straws are not labeled as to what kind of plastic they are, they are rarely recycled.

But this is not a labeling problem… it is a production problem.   Americans use an estimated 500 million disposable plastic straws every day.  In 2011, participants of the International Coastal Cleanup picked up 468,161 straws off of worldwide beaches in one day!  That one straw you have in your iced coffee every morning adds up to a big waste problem.  The use of billions of straws every year is sure to make the petroleum companies happy, but what does it mean for our landfills, and our groundwater and our oceans?  With the increasing number of scientific reports suggesting that plastics leak toxic chemicals into our bodies why would we want to put these things into our mouths?!

What can we do about this?!

1) First, ask for no straw!  Many beverages don’t need them! By asking your waiter/waitress/bartender to leave off the straw you can dramatically reduce the number of straws you use per year and inspire others to ask why they use so many disposable items.

2) BYOS:  Buy your own straw!  Being straw conscious does not mean you need to go straw free.  Here are a couple websites to help you find one.

Glass Dharma’s glass drinking straws.  Read a review of these bad boys here.

Reuseit.com sells packs of stainless steel straws

I have seen paper straws sold at Whole Foods or you can buy them online here.

Starting Out Strong

Week 9 heralds the shortest list to date! Check it:

-1 Pita Chip Bag
-1 Shipping Envelope
-2 Tempeh Packages
-1 Arame Package
-2 Caps
-1 Pair of Contacts
-1 Mouthwash Bottle
-3 Bread Film
-1 Basil Bag
-2 Cheese Film
-1 Plastic Cover from National Geographic Magazine
-1 Toothpick Container
-1 Toothbrush
-1 Saffron Container

I am proud of this week.  A handful of the items, like the toothpick container, saffron container, and mouthwash bottle have been with us for at least 6 months, and finally decided it was their time to go.  Others, like the pita chips, are indications of the things we just cannot give up (yet?).  And others, like the bread bags, are a reminder of how hard it is to break our plastic habits (I got a loaf of bread from a local bakery, asked them to put it in my reusable ziplock, and they put it in a new bag anyways… womp womp).  Overall, this list is a great sign of progress, a tangible way to see our footprint has decreased in the past 2 months.

One area of our home  that houses the most seemingly unavoidable plastic is the bathroom.  Toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, floss, the very shower itself! – all plastic.  How do we reduce our plastic use in our bathroom??  I suppose the kitchen was my first target, but now I turn to our bathroom and wonder: Do we really need all of this stuff.

One item we have cast aside is liquid soap.  We traded it for the bar.  The switch got me wondering, just why is liquid soap in a plastic squeezable bottle so much more popular than bar soap anyways??  Is it our obsession with efficiency and convenience?  Have we grown to expect those superior bubbles liquid soap provides? Maybe its the loofas….

Whatever it is that draws so many American’s to liquid soap, it is unfortunate.  Why?  Well, first, look at the ingredients? The American government does not require pre-market testing of the chemicals that go in our personal care products.  Plenty of American’s look at the ingredient lists (or at least the calorie counts) on our food packaging, but how many of us flip over our bottle of liquid soap, or shampoo, or deodorant, and read those ingredients?  This list was taken from Dove Deep Moisture Body Wash with Nutrimoisture.

dovely

Soybean oil, sunflower oil, sodium lauroyl isothionate, sodium laureth sulfate, cocomidopropyl betaine, lauric acid, stearic acid, glycerin, fragrance, sodium isetheonate, lauryl alcohol, tallow acid or palmetic acid, guar hydroxpropyltrimonium chloride, DMDM hydantoin, methylisothiazolinone,  tetrasodium EDTA, etidronic acid, iodopropynyl butylcarbamate, bht.

Hmmm… one look at this list sets off alarms for me.  During my EMT training I learned that our skin is our largest organ, and it does much more than sweat and get sunburns, it also absorbs!  Do I want all these ill-tested, unpronounceable chemicals on my absorbent skin?? Some of these ingredients are potentially toxic as well.  Just to name a few: BHT is a known immune toxicant or allergen and may also be a carcinogen, DMDM hydantoin is a skin, eye, and lung irritant, and iodopropynyl butylcarbamate is a suspected gastrointestinal and liver toxicant.  These products may be approved to go to market, but I have the choice of what I expose my body to, and I say “no thank you” to these suspicious chemicals.  If you are interested in learning more about the ingredients in your toiletries I suggest you check out Envionmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database.  They provide online safety profiles for over 79,000 products and can help you find healthier options.

The second unfortunate thing about liquid soap is the environmental impact.  Housed in a plastic bottle, liquid soap aids the petroleum industry (in fact, petroleum products are often in the soap too!!) and once you are done lathering up, that bottle could easily outlive your grandkids.  These bottles are usually #2 plastic, or high density polyethylene.  That is a fancy scientific way of saying they float in sea water and are one of the most commonly found plastics in the ocean gyres.

This was all motivation for us to find a bar soap with natural ingredients that is packaged in paper.  Right now we are quite smitten with Nubian Heritage.  Born in New York in 1992, this company’s mission is to “produce luxurious natural products from African recipes with organic and fair trade ingredients”.  Organic, ethically traded, AND cruelty free!!! But the best part is their scents.  Some of our favorites are goats milk and chai, black soap with shea butter, and carrot and pomegranate.  But the true test is to look at the ingredients.

RAWR!

RAWR!

Honey and Black Seed Soap: Shea butter, coconut oil and/or palm oil, apricot oil, black seed, honey, vitimin E, vegetable glycerin, mineral pigment, essential oil blend.

That ingredient list is a whole lot shorter, pronounceable, and recognizable than Dove’s.  The ingredients come from nature, not a lab or an oil refinery, and the paper package can turn back into Earth again.  Honey has historically been used in healing balms.  The use of black seed can be traced back more than 3000 years to the ancient Egyptians!  It was discovered in the tomb of King Tutankhamen and reportedly used by Queen Nefertiti to maintain her flawless complexion.

However, writing this post I realized that this soap isn’t perfect.  The production of palm oil can sometimes result in deforestation of critical rainforest habitat.  And the box fails to disclose the full ingredient list to their consumers by listing “essential oil blend”.  I plan on writing Nubian Heritage this week to inquire about the sourcing of their ingredients.

Washing our hands and bodies with bar soap may not be as excitingly 21st century as a sudsy, loofa-led liquid soap down, but we choose it because small choices can add up to big change over time.  We choose to ditch chemicals because we love our bodies, and want to nourish and respect them.

What ways do you keep your bathroom plastic and toxin free?