Recently I have enjoyed a return to an old pleasure. A rediscovery of the joy of soap....
I mean hard, solid, blocks of soap....
It came about as I showered at my girlfriend’s house a couple of weeks ago. In the bathroom, there were a selection of plastic bottles available to use, and there was a half worn bar of soap. It was dried out and unloved, like an abandoned carcass. I was drawn to it. I almost felt sorry for it. I wet it and massaged it and within seconds, it magically came back to life again; Slippery and sudsy and fully functional. I used it to wash my body and began to realise that I had missed it. There was a nice nostalgia about it. A product from years long passed. When did we all decide that the simple humble bar was not up to the job anymore?
There is a certain kinaesthetic pleasure in the textural physicality of the bar in the hand. After years of squirting soft liquid soap from a bottle and smearing it across my skin, the weight and substance of the bar in the hand, and the hefty but slippery presence of it on the body was a sensual treat. The feeling of ‘scrubbing’ away the dirt and dead cells seemed somehow more real. All these sensations that I simply don’t get from squirty soft soap.
And then as I wash, the bar just keeps giving and giving. No need to refresh with another squirt from the bottle. The bar just keeps on and on, like it would last forever. Of course it won’t – I know that, but it suds and suds and suds until you decide to lay it aside.
And it occurred to me too, that this humble bar came from a simple packet. A piece of glossy cardboard. Nothing fancy. It’s just simple. No wasted Dregs, No empty plastic bottle to end up on a beach somewhere, and no recourse to oil to make the bottle in the first place. And just like that, I was cleansed not only physically, but also morally and ethically. A mental ease took hold at the thought that I was damaging the planet, just a little bit less.
After the shower, I was thinking about this experience. I was wondering why any of us use the plastic bottle shower gel at all.
I realised then, that in fact, I know nothing about the ecological argument for Soap-Bar V Soap-Bottle.
I don’t truly know which is best for the environment, but that didn’t stop me feeling good about it. I am subject to my own personal brain-washing that says a throwaway plastic bottle is a bad thing; but I don’t really know.
What I do know is, by paying attention to one tiny aspect of life, making a small change, and thinking a slightly different way, I feel good. I feel happier and I feel like a better human being.