Saturday, December 13, 2008

All lathered up

Okay, I know you're excited to hear about my first ever blogger challenge.

I hardly ever participate in other people's challenges - at least not officially - because my life is generally too chaotic to check in regularly, post detailed results, copy & paste badges, and so on. So I'm not going to ask you to do any of these things either.

We'll call it The Easiest Challenge Ever. See how I put it in bold? That makes it more official.

So here's the thing: Our whole culture is built around constant growth. Your company has to get bigger. Your stock price has to keep going up. Your next house has to be bigger than your last. More, more, more.

The problem with growth, briefly, is that it can't go on forever. It appears we're starting to collectively realize this fairly obvious fact. But companies, being what they are, keep looking for clever ways to get us consuming more of their products.

Case in point: How much toothpaste do you put on your brush? Does it look like this?
That's what the toothbrushes on TV ads always look like. That's what they look like in print ads, and on packaging. But really, you only need about a pea-sized dab of toothpaste to get your teeth clean. Or just try baking soda.

The same goes for shaving cream. When you picture somebody shaving with a blade, the guy always looks more like he's been in a classic movie pie fight than getting ready to scrape stubble off his face. You only need enough to give the blade a little lubrication.

The bathroom is full of examples.

Soft Soap: I mean how many times more soap do you use with a full pump from one of those dispensers than you would with an old-fashioned bar of soap? Are your hands really any cleaner?

Gel deodorants: Again, even the tiniest twist on the dial gets you ten times as much deodorant as a traditional stick. And those so-called "crystal" mineral salt deodorants last literally for years.

Shampoo: Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Yeah, wash that hair twice in a row. How about trying just a little dab of shampoo. Or there's always the no-poo approach.

So that's the challenge. See if you can get just as clean with the least amount of (fill-in-the-blank) possible. You're not restricted to the bathroom. You can try it with laundry soap, dishwashing soap, glass cleaner, floor cleaner... you tell me.

So that's it. That's the challenge. Be more mindful of those hygiene and cleaning products you use. Use less. If you think of it, let us know how it went.

For bonus points, consider some of the homemade versions of these products. It seems you can clean almost anything with either baking soda or apple cider vinegar. Check The Google for recipes.

If you think of more examples of this "encouragement to overuse" in other areas, let me know.

(I know, I know. Growth capitalism will crash without growth. What can I say? I'm becoming subversive. Besides, it kinda seems to be in progress already. Let the Revolution begin at the end of your toothbrush.)


Okay, okay, twist my arm. I'll fool around with Photoshop for a little while.

Here's a badge:

And here's how to add it (hopefully):

<a href=""><img src="" border=1 alt="Easiest Challenge Ever"></a>


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At 12/14/2008 6:17 PM, Blogger Matriarchy said...

I'm in! We have been diluting our shampoo, conditioner, and liquid soap. I water down the Tresemme conditioner by at least 4X, making more of a creme rinse. We make our own foaming hand soap by cutting 1 part regular hand soap with 10 parts of water, and reusing (many times) a container for Dial foaming hand soap. We like that is rinses so easily, using less water.

I will look for more ways to reduce.

At 12/15/2008 6:38 AM, Blogger d.a. said...

Love it!

At 12/16/2008 2:10 PM, Blogger Peak Oil Hausfrau said...

Nice! I got one of those crystal deodarants and some Dr. Bronner's. I've been trying to shower every other day, too. That cuts the use of most things in half (not toothpaste, obviously).

At 12/28/2008 9:31 PM, Blogger Kathy "Peak Shrink" McMahon said...

I've taken a look at those "special smelly liquid soaps" my daughter gave me last year at this time. At this rate, they'll last me 4 years. The shampoo has already lasted me 2 (big bottle). I don't use deodorant, after my husband stopped and never smelled bad (I shower daily), and the toothpaste fits on a small round brush.

What I don't use in toothpaste and shampoo, however, my husband makes up for. His sink is decorated with it. Despite frequent discussions, it appears to be one of those "endless marital disagreement."

Any suggestions for involving him in the challenge?

At 12/29/2008 3:59 PM, Blogger e4 said...

Matriarchy and Hausfrau - good ideas.

Kathy - reminds me of a joke you must have heard before:
Q: How many psychotherapists does it take to change a light bulb.
A: Just one, but the light bulb has to *want* to change.

At 1/28/2009 4:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found I used a lot less shampoo and creme rinse after one small change: I rub my hands together with the shampoo or rinse on them first, to spread out the little blob, then put it on my (long, thick) hair.

I've always been sparing with toothpaste because I don't like the "mouth full of bubbles" feeling.



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