Environmentalism – two steps forward and four back

I love to do what I can to help our planet.

Recently, I’ve been hit with ads for bamboo toilet paper and paper towels on Instagram.

Another set of ads features an environmental advance hitting the world of laundry soap. You can buy soap for washing clothes that comes in sheets. Buying those prevents manufacturing and disposing of those giant plastic containers the soap comes in and shipping 80% of the product’s water to your local emporium.

But there are two serious problems with these products:

  1. Cost: they are way more expensive than most alternatives.
  2. Shipping: it’s a big environmental cost to ship those things one-by-one (or even two-by-two) to your door.

We bought a “make your own shampoo” kit from a small company recently. It came in a nice cardboard package with no plastic. It consisted of a small bar of soap that we broke up, melted over the stove, added water and shook vigorously.

The shampoo is nice – very silky, and it makes our hair nice and clean.

But it was shipped to the US distributor from New Zealand!

So the two principles of bad cost and worse shipping definitely applied.

I know that early adopters must help fund cultural change. But count me out, in these cases. When they finally hit the supermarkets, I’ll be 100% on-board.

For now, at least, we are buying cardboard boxes of powder laundry soap – you know, the way it used to be sold.


  1. I wrote these posts on bamboo toilet paper: one and two.
  2. That lovely photo of a bamboo forest in Kyoto, Japan, is courtesy of Adam Dillon on Unsplash and is used with permission.

One Reply to “Environmentalism – two steps forward and four back”

  1. 1. I read last year during the early months of the pandemic that Australia relies a lot on toilet paper made in China, which supposedly was part of the reason of the shortage which led to panic buying which then spread to the entire civilized world …

    2. In your first “Bamboo” post the label on the TP photo talks about “post-consumer recycled fibre” – my mind went into overtime speculating what that meant, especially in the context of TP …

    3. Speaking of recycling always reminds me of our first visit to a restaurant in Plano during our stay there 1984-89. It was a steak house on the U.S. 75 frontage near Plano Parkway, and they had a huge salad buffet in the form of a farm wagon. We could not identify everything we saw, so for one dish, greenish cubes, we asked our server what they were. His reply? “Recycled melon rinds!” The mind boggles, as my English wife says, at the word “recycled” in the context of food …

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