Last month a horrifying piece of video went viral on social media. The clip showed millions of plastic bottles rolling in with the tide on a beach in the Dominican Republic, and it highlighted the problem caused by our overuse of plastic bottles. Traveling exacerbates the problem when hotels rely on tiny bottles of hair and body products, and airline security rules make it difficult for travelers to bring their own shampoo without resorting to…tiny plastic bottles. Packing a larger bottle in checked luggage is one solution, but it leaves you open to the risk of a wardrobe-destroying leak unless you double-bag the liquids, using more plastic, and doesn’t solve the plastic bottle issue; after all, you are taking one large one to replace a couple of small ones. Marriott International and InterContinental Hotels have both announced that they intend to replace individual use bottles with large refillable bottles in guest room bathrooms, but until the rollout is complete, what is a traveler to do?
I recently discovered a solution to the problem in a bar. No, not that kind of bar, a shampoo bar. Shampoo bars are solid, sold in environmentally-friendly paper wrappers, and come in all the usual hair-type varieties. There are also bars of matching hair conditioners. They can be transported in a container of your choice (I have a sustainably-produced bamboo case but any reusable waterproof bag or box will do) and they do not fall foul of Transportation Security Administration rules.
I’ve also found that they last much longer than the same volume container of liquid shampoos because you can control the amount you rub on your hair or hands more easily than squeezing out a bottle. Another bonus: You can scrutinize the ingredients before purchasing to make sure there is nothing you are allergic too rather than taking a chance on the shampoo provided in a hotel.
If you consider the amount of time most meetings professionals spend on the road, replacing liquid toiletries with solids can eliminate a significant amount of plastic from the environment without interfering with anyone’s beauty regime.
Let’s do it!