Ethique is a company that makes plastic-free products with plastic-free shipping that is climate positive. As you may be aware, only 9% of the plastic ever created has been recycled. According to Ethique, bottled products like hand soap are typically made of 70-95% water. So in general it seems we are shipping single-use plastic that doesn’t always get recycled, and water. I’ve been using several of Ethique’s products over the last year or more and will be sharing more about their other product lines in the future. Here we’re going to talk about hand soap or what Ethique calls handwash. If you are interested in trying Ethique out I have a 20% off your first order referral link for you.
First some backstory. I’ve written a couple of posts on hand soap or handwashing. I like Grove’s soap refills that come in aluminum bottles with aluminum lids since aluminum is infinitely recyclable. Something in the soap formula seems to exacerbate my son’s eczema so we unfortunately have to pass on using it but it’s a subscription product I highly recommend. I have sensitive skin and their Free & Clear products worked great for me and my husband. I don’t like to use single-use soap-pump soap because we can’t easily recycle the pump mechanism. The pump is a combination of small plastic bits and a metal spring that are all small enough to jam single-stream recycling sorting machines and that’s only if the pieces are properly separated to begin with which most people won’t do since it’s more work. Pumps can be recycled in a TerraCycle All-in-One box but you have to order those and they are expensive. Bar soaps are my favorite soap but at the kitchen sink in our house it is easier for us and more hygienic for us to use a pump soap.
We used Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap for years because it is clean, effective, bulk (we usually buy gallons to refill our dispensers) and is easy to purchase at most brick and mortar stores. It also comes in unscented, peppermint and lemon which were all scents we were comfortable using. We don’t use that any more for a few reasons: 1) my husband and I could never agree on the dilution ratio that was effective for both dishes and hand washing where we could have one soap dispenser at the kitchen sink (is this silly?), 2) since castile soap is thicker, even diluted it would occasionally clog our soap pumps which would need rinsed out and 3) it was had to find gallons of castile during the first wave of COVID and we’re not going to purchase a bunch of little soap bottles. We really love multi-purpose soaps which is why after castile soap we starting using Seventh Generation’s Free & Clear Dish Liquid Soap, the 50 oz (which is available at my local grocery stores HEB, Natural Grocers and Central Market) for both dish and hands at the kitchen sink. It’s very effective for both; however during this winter it was drying my hands out way too much, it is for degreasing after all, hence my recent search for two separate soaps. So in a roundabout way we are now at two soaps at the kitchen sink despite my best intentions. I can’t lotion myself out of this situation (lotion is itself another topic to discuss later) so here are. Another thing about gallons and bulk soap, they have seals inside the lid (sometimes plastic/sometimes mixed materials), and if they’re shipped sometimes the bottles are wrapped in plastic wrap so they don’t leak. The seals aren’t commonly recyclable if at all so using bars or soap packaged in compostable containers is another way to reduce difficult to recycle plastic.
The box and sealing sticker are compostable. I ordered Invigorating citrus which was the lightest of the scents available. As a reminder we are scent sensitive in our house, but Ethique doesn’t offer a scent-free handwash concentrate. Two bars of handwash concentrate come in the box. You break it up on the preset lines.
You boil 300 ml or 300 g of water than add it to a heatproof container (I used a wide mouth mason jar) and stir until the triangles dissolve. Using my whisk and serving fork, this took me 5 minutes. This length of time seams reasonable when compared to rinsing out a big bottle of soap refill to provide a clean plastic product to recycle, and that rinsing uses a lot of water… The concentrate mix makes a nice white consistency liquid soap; it’s not runny or too thick. I put mine in mason jar so my two kitchen soaps match. I just made this Sunday and so far it flows smoothly and seems like it won’t clog the pump.
Regarding soap pumps: when I was little my mom had bathroom decor color-coordinated ceramic soap dispensers with plastic pumps and we would fill those up with half gallon bottles of liquid soap. At some point, that seemed to go out of fashion and while you can still find nice soap pumps finding large liquid soap refills seems harder. Most people I know have single use liquid soap pumps that they replace when they’re empty. Regarding this practice, I’m not sure here if they 1) throw the whole thing as-is in the recycling (a contamination and therefore trash), 2) take the pump and bottle apart and throw both in the recycling (the pump is now the only contamination and therefore trash, 3) literally separate everything and throw it all in the recycling (the small pump parts will either fall through the single-stream sorter into the sorter’s trash collection of small items or jam the sorting system causing hours of delay and cleaning, or 4) recycle the bottle and trash the pump. A 5th option would be to put the pump into a TerraCycle All-in-One recycling box but as I’ve mentioned even the smallest box is $199 and that is cost prohibitive for a lot of people. Greener options include 1) to use liquid soap refills (the plastic bottle and flip-top lid can be recycled, the seal will be trash) in your current dispensers or in sturdy reusable ones 2) to use a soap concentrate, or 3) to use bar soaps making sure to find bar soaps that are wrapped in paper, cardboard or something else easily recyclable or compostable. I like using mason jars for liquid soap because I can also use the jar later and they hold a lot. I do recommend a larger jar. We used to use a pint before and I feel like I was always refilling it. I’ve had other mason jar lids before, and it just seems that with most steel soap pumps the spout rusts and falls out. I’m not sure if that will happen with my new ones, but they had much better reviews than most others so this is what I ordered. I did order these since again, it’s a product not available at my local brick and mortar stores.
I know that was a lot of information. We can argue it’s just soap. Everyone uses soap so it’s an item to think about. I want you to know where I’m coming from and the thought process that I went and go through when I’m making a decision I hope will be greener. I want you know about the options that are out there. I hope that my explanations, thinking and examples are helpful to you, and that maybe you won’t have to think as much as me or this helps you make a quicker decision. If time is a concern, I think mixing concentrates could be a project for older kids or something you can do while watching tv for example. I will share that this may be up to twice as much per ounce cost-wise as some of the mainstream single-use liquid soaps, but ingredient, environment and ethics-wise this may not matter to you:
- Certified organic and fair trade coconut oil
- Gentle plant-based surfactants for lather
- Free from parabens
- Certified palm-oil free
- Certified cruelty-free and vegan
- 1 X 350ML PLASTIC BOTTLES SAVED
- 700 MILLILITRES OF WATER SAVED
- 1 TREE PLANTED FOR EVERY ORDER
- CARBON NEUTRAL
- COMPOSTABLE PACKAGING
Ethique is not the only option out there. I encourage you to take the concept behind the example I share and seek to apply it in general. Other brands or options may work better for you. I chose Ethique because of all the good listed above and they are easy to find online, at Amazon and Target online. If I don’t need to make a big Ethique order, I add these items to an order at Target or Amazon to reduce shipping trips and packaging. I hope to see Ethique show up in Target brick and mortar stores eventually and not just Target online. So many “green” products are only available online and not everyone is comfortable ordering online; dislikes purchasing items they can’t see, smell or feel; or don’t meet a free shipping dollar amount or only want to try one small item and find the process cost or time-prohibitive. I encourage you to write to your favorite stores and share your experiences and ask them to carry products you want to see and use.
Stay clean and green.
You may also like:
#giveupthebottle #ethique #handsoap #handwash #soap #liquidsoap #kidfriendly #zerowaste #plasticfree #noplasticbottle #grove #terracycle #castilesoap #drbronners #seventhgeneration #dishsoap