A year ago, whilst I was participating in National Blog Posting Month, I wrote about shampoo, particularly focusing on the ingredient SLS, which seems to be an undesirable thing to splash on our skin. Eventually, after much research and discussion, I chose to buy my shampoo in bulk from Faith in Nature. I was not entirely happy about this as I was still buying a product encased in plastic and I was still buying a liquid. Ideally, I’d like to use a solid shampoo that does not contain SLS. Why a shampoo bar rather than bottle? Well, because if we buy liquids we are paying (in money and in cost to the environment) to transport water… something that most of us reading this blog have readily available in our homes. For the time being I have plenty of shampoo and so I’m not looking for a replacement, but I did recently come near the end of my big container of liquid soap – I have been using a product from Sonnett that is marketed as handwash, but that I use in the shower too.
I stopped using bars of soap many years ago because I found that they irritated my skin (I used to be prone to eczema, although that has disappeared as I have got older). I seemed to be better with shower gels, particularly those based on coconut or other natural oils and with no artificial fragrance. However, recently it seems to have become relatively easy to buy soap from small producers who make it from natural oils, such as sunflower and olive, rather than petrochemicals or palm oil (which I avoid at all costs because even the ‘ethical’ stuff may not be). It turns out, unsurprisingly, that these are much gentler and suit my skin well. I’m delighted by this because this means I’m supporting small, local businesses and not paying for the transportation of water (effectively I’m buying a concentrate rather than a solution). In addition, these soaps tend to come in little or no packaging, which is yet another bonus. I would really like to find someone in my area who makes soap from lanolin because this fits in with my support for British wool producers and would further reduce transport of materials.
But what, I hear you ask, does this have to do with spaghetti? Well, in the same way that it is not a great idea to transport water around the world, I’ve recently been thinking that it’s not a good idea to transport air. And we do an awful lot of this. I’m thinking about goods that are packed ‘loose’ and so have gaps between all the individual bits. So, if you buy spaghetti you are being more environmentally sound than if you buy rigatoni – which not only has spaces between the bits, but also inside them! I suppose the best thing is to make your own, as Mr Snail does when he has time. Flour – the main ingredient – is generally quite tightly packed and you can add locally-produced eggs and oil if you want those ingredients.
So that’s today’s tip for sustainable living: avoid products with extraneous air or water! Buy soap and spaghetti… just don’t serve them together.