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the culinary adventures of a self-described foodie

Back to Basics

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This is my belated Earth Day post. Happy Earth Day everyone!

I started my affair with the shower pouf freshmen year of college. Before that, I had always been the bar soap kind of girl, but something about lugging a plastic, wet soap dish with a slimy bar of soap from my dorm room to the shared showers made me cringe. Plus, wouldn’t that purple shower pouf look so cute in my new blue shower caddy, the de rigueur dorm accessory?

Even as I moved out of the dorms, I continued my co-dependent relationship with the shower pouf and its partner-in-crime, liquid body soap. Who doesn’t love the bubbles and the feeling of indulging oneself? Oh, and the scents! My favorite was Dove Cool Cucumber. So fresh and so clean!

I must have gone through a couple of shower poufs a year, along with many, many bottles of body wash. Then, a couple of years ago, a friend of mine started talking about bar soap in a rapturous fashion. What? BAR SOAP?! Really? How retro, how quaint, I thought. The conversation continued to linger in my mind, until I realized that my 13 year relationship with the shower pouf was officially over. And no, I was not sad about it. It felt great to have a simpler (and cheaper!) shower routine, not to mention the fact that I was eliminating unnecessary plastic from my life.

Which brings me to my point! (Thanks for reading this far, btw.) There are many ways in which we can REDUCE the amount of stuff we consume. Y’all are probably smart and savvy enough to know that out of the pro-environment triumvirate, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” Reducing has the biggest impact.

The cool thing is that this bar soap story has many sequels. Last year, SBJ won a free party at Lush, during which we were treated to hand and foot treatments, facials, and lots of samples and prizes. Not only does Lush make great bar soaps, but they also make shampoo, conditioner, and lotion into bars too! It’s amazing!! Being the environmentally conscious company that they are, Lush avoids plastic whenever possible and wraps things in recycled paper and newsprint. One concern I had about Lush products is that they exude a dirty hippie vibe, so I was afraid that while I would love the ideas behind their products, the items themselves might fall short when in use. Fortunately, this was not the case. First of all, if any of you know SBJ (or read her awesome blog), you will know that she is the polar opposite of dirty hippie! Secondly, I bought a bunch of their products and while I didn’t love them all, I did like most of them. (Warning, if you buy the lotion bars, it will make your shower extremely slippery. Use with caution!) Finally, the fact that these products come in solid form means you will not have to worry about those pesky 3.4 fluid ounce rules from the TSA. Bonus!

Still, I’m struggling with a few things, one of which is getting rid of all liquid soaps in my apartment. The bathroom sink isn’t too hard to do, though I will miss the Mrs. Meyers Basil soap that smells SO GOOD (sigh). My problem is the kitchen. I can’t get past the idea that using a pump after handling raw meat is more sanitary… which would be solved if I cut out raw meat altogether. And if I cut out meat, then that would dramatically shrink my carbon footprint. But one thing at a time OK?!

A more recent and unintentional simplification came about when I stopped using deodorant a few months ago. I know what you’re thinking. “Man, Jen has really become a dirty hippie!” (A theme of this post, perhaps?) But seriously? I don’t smell, even though I thought I would. I’ve been brainwashed into thinking that I would stink without that daily application of deodorant since I was 12. They call it antiperspirants, but it never stopped me from sweating. The best thing is that I no longer get white deodorant marks on my dark shirts, nor do I risk those disturbing yellow armpit stains that result from metals (metals!!) found in most antiperspirants.

Now, I know that most of you fellas out there would stink if you didn’t use some deodorant, but for the ladies, I challenge you to a one week experiment. Shower regularly. Don’t use deodorant. Ask a good friend to be your odor detector. I bet most of you ladies won’t smell at all, and some of you might smell a little but not noticeably. Report back!

So, I’ve shared a couple of examples in my life where I’ve gone back to basics and cut out non-essential items. There are still so many areas in my life where I can reduce my consumption. I’m not asking you to cut out liquid soap or deodorant, but I would like for you to honestly ask yourself: What do you need? What do you want? And in what ways has marketing/society/your friends told you need something when you actually don’t? Because in the end, it’s not just good for the Earth, it’s good for your soul.

Author: Jen

Howdy! I'm a 30-something recovering former academic living in the San Francisco Bay Area. I like to eat, run, and blog, but not usually at the same time.

6 thoughts on “Back to Basics

  1. Every time I hear about discarding hygienic products, all I can think about is this post now:
    http://boingboing.net/2011/01/07/burning-with-pride-h.html

    But it’s probably because I have about me a powerful hobostank that can barely be controlled even with soap and deodorant.

    • Ha! Are you implying that I think I’m better than everyone else?

      • You are better than everyone else, so you don’t have to think it because it’s absolutely true.

        But honestly, for the whole Earth Day thing, I’m kind of influenced by Sterling and Gate when they say that, yeah, not using soap or something is fine, but it’s also not really going to fix the planet other than making a personal statement. I mean, holy water from Mecca (that people drink) has 3 times the allowed arsenic content, and I doubt it’s because people don’t recycle their garbage.

        • I agree that I’m not Saving the Earth by quitting liquid soap, but that as an American consumer who uses more resources than anyone in other countries, I can certainly take stock of what I use and try to minimalize it whenever possible. Also, in choosing what I buy and don’t buy, I feel like I’m voting with my pocketbook. Part of my point here is that I bought in to what society and Procter and Gamble told me that I needed instead of thinking for myself.

          And anyway, let’s face it: nothing that we’re going to do is going to Save the Earth at this point. But I would rather feel like I’m not contributing (as much as I was) to its destruction.

  2. Lush makes solid deodorants!

    Brava. You don’t smell, and if you DO, it’s like yummy, delicious, eco-friendly Lush products. Those bastard geniuses! I’m so glad that little party made you turn a kinder corner. Yay!

    • If the purpose of those parties is to convince people to buy stuff, then I am totally sold! I’m still in the process of using up all of my old stuff (what can I say? I stockpile soaps and shampoos because I’m paranoid about running out!). But once I’ve used up everything, I’m so excited about going on a Lush shopping spree. WHEEEEEE!

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