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Soap Bars: The Eco-Friendly Option for Fighting Viruses

Updated: Mar 31, 2020

Ellie Chivers discovers how soap bars are better for the environment and in the fight against coronavirus | Nature and Environmental

Photo by Anne Nygard

It’s been drilled into us for weeks now – ‘stay two metres apart from other people’ ‘stay inside as much as possible’, and of course, ‘wash your hands!’

Bottled soap is becoming increasingly hard to come by, so you might be wondering how it is possible for us to keep our hands sufficiently clean during the coronavirus pandemic.

But hiding in plain sight on those sad, scarce shelves may be a saviour in disguise: a bar of soap. It can do the job just as well, while also being much more beneficial for Planet Earth.

Doesn’t bar soap transmit germs?

When you and your family are using one bar of soap between you, you may come to the conclusion that one user’s germs will quickly be transferred to the next. In fact, this is not the case. One of the more in-depth studies into this was conducted in 1965, with the results showing that no matter the amount of bacteria on a bar of soap, there would be no health risk to subsequent users.

Whereas bacteria could exist on the pump of a liquid soap bottle, the surface of a bar of soap is simply not a habitable place for bacteria, so bars of soap maybe in fact be a superior alternative.

Better for the environment

The average American household wades through 20 bottles of soap and shampoo a year; this means there are 2.5 billion plastic bottles used up and chucked out every 365 days from bathroom products only, eventually clogging up landfill. It has been proposed that sales of bar soap is beginning to see a resurgence due to a growing societal concern about plastic pollution.

Bar soap packaging includes significantly less plastic, while companies are also doing more to react to the increasing concerns. For example, Unilever brand Dove announced they will no longer be wrapping their soap bars in plastic.

In 2018, bar soap sales rose by 3%, a promising statistic which suggests that people are gradually trying to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle.

It’s worth noting that many mainstream brands of bar soap include ingredients derived from animals, but there are numerous cruelty-free brands which are readily available, if not in supermarkets then from online stores, such as Lush, The Body Shop, and Holland & Barrett.

So, if the bottled soap at your sink is running dangerously low, next time you’re shopping for essentials, why not pick up some bar soap instead?

Remember: When it come comes to cleanliness vs Coronavirus continue to follow NHS and government advice in order to stay safe.


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