Bar Soap is Better than Liquid Soap: Cost and Environmental Impact


Bar soap is better than liquid soap based on its lower cost per use, equal effectiveness at cleansing and disinfecting, lower packaging and overall lower environmental impact.

Cost – Bill Chameides, in his blog post referenced below estimates a cost of .4 cents per use with bar soap and 3.5 cents per use with liquid soap.  Liquid soap is almost ten times more expensive to use.

Effectiveness – Both products clean and disinfect equally.  Although bacteria can remain on the surface of soap and the surface of a liquid soap dispenser, there is no evidence that these bacteria (or viruses) will remain on the skin after you wash your hands.  See the Scientific American reference below.

Environmental Impact – Liquid soap creates more solid waste including the often one-time use dispenser and the packaging for the liquid soap.  Bar soap can be bought without a wrapper in bulk or with minimal packaging.  More energy is required to transport liquid soap because of the bulk and weight.  People use more water when they use bar soap than liquid soap.  I would suggest this is because we leave the tap on as we lather our hands. This can be reduced by turning the tap off during lathering.

Optimizing use/minimizing waste –

  • Opt for soap without packaging or with minimal packaging
  • If using liquid soap, look for refills versus single-use dispensers.
  • Turn off the tap while lathering.  Wet your hands and turn off the tap.  Lather and then turn the tap on to rinse off.
  • Use the minimal amount of liquid product when washing.  A full pump might be more than you need.
  • When using bar soap, keep it elevated using a soap dish and platform.


  • Consider using a soap sponge or washcloth to contain smaller soap scraps


Conclusion: Bar soap is better than liquid soap economically and ecologically.


Bill Chameides Blog on Soap

Scientific American Blog Post About Soap


Decrapitation – What’s in your address book Part 2

Address Book

In yesterday’s post I described why and how I deleted my Google Contacts and Apple iCloud Contacts and consolidated all of them into Protonmail.  Decrapitation – What’s in your address book and where is it?

The problem with this immediately became apparent when I found that I had no phone numbers in my iPhone.  At first I simply re-imported all of my contacts into the phone but then I decided to re-delete them and to add phone numbers only as I need them.  I currently have 10 phone numbers.  Anytime I need to add a number my plan is to first enter it into Protonmail’s contacts so that I have one complete database.

My hope is to only have in my phone contacts numbers that I actually use and want.

This illustrates a problem I’ve always had with simplicity.  By trying to simplify things I can make things more complicated.  Is what I’m doing any better than what most people do?  Most people have contacts in personal email, perhaps work email, maybe school email, their mobile phone and maybe the memory on their home phone and perhaps a written phone book.

Again, my intention is to create a smaller and better organized database that minimizes redundancy, maximizes ease of finding information, minimizes privacy/security issues and takes the least amount of time to maintain.

If I wind up with multiple databases, if I lose numbers, if my phone contacts list begins to contain non-working data or people I no longer remember, then I know that this effort has failed.

Decrapitation – What’s in your address book and where is it?

Address Book

When you don’t pay for a product, you are the product.

Anytime you get something for free on the internet, like email, address book, word processing, image storage and image processing either you are paying for it or it’s free.  Most times in today’s internet environment it’s free…. “free”…..

Google offers free email and free address books.  You might think that they do this only to serve ads to you on Google but that is wrong.  Their collection of data on Google’s products and using various trackers on other internet sites allows them to target ads to you all over the internet.  So even on other websites, the ads you see are likely influenced by the data they have obtained by your using their products.

Recently I looked up (Using DuckDuckGo) “Does Google Read Email?”  Up until now I assumed that they did not.  They could if they had a court order but I assumed that routine email between me and my physicians, family, friends, political parties, charities was not read or used by them.  Do your own diligence on this but my takeaway from reading articles  including

Guardian 2014 Article about Google Email

Guardian 2014 Article about Other Email Provider Practices

is that Google at the very least uses an automated program to scan the contents of to individualize ads you see for products (and perhaps political ads… I’m not sure but given the Cambridge Analytica debacle this can’t be ruled out).  In their own words:

“Our automated systems analyse your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customised search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received, and when it is stored.” (From the first article cited above).

I decided to remove my addresses from Google and transfer them to the email program I use and pay for called Protonmail Link to Protonmail.  It was an easy process involving downloading a CSV file and then uploading it to Protonmail.  Then I deleted the addresses on Google. I did the same with my iCloud contacts and that added another 400, mostly redundant entries.

After I did that I had over 2000 contacts because Gmail had been collecting (as I directed it to) the emails of all the people that I emailed from that account.  Protonmail has a handy feature to eliminate duplicates and that reduced the number by over 400 entries!  And in process I found many archaic entries.

Unfortunately I still have hundreds of contacts that have only an email address.  Many are familiar and some not.  I’m not convinced of the utility of going thru the 1600 addresses to delete those I don’t use.  I can still quickly search for the ones I do and I think this is going to be one of those areas where letting the clutter stay is more “minimalist” than actually spending time to eliminate it.

I have though consolidated all my addresses and know where to go to find contact information.  I also have eliminated my Google and iCloud address books.  I feel better that my information has been removed although I don’t know that there was ever any real security breach there.

I have also downloaded the file, encrypted it using Boxcryptor, and stored it in case Protonmail or I intentionally or mistakenly corrupt or delete my addresses.

So dear readers, what’s in your address book?  How many do you have?  Do you know where your addresses are stored and who has access to them?  Is your address book backed up in a VCF file, have you encrypted it and do you know where it is stored in case you need to back up all your addresses?

Decrapitation – Saturday Market Day


Sometimes the stuff I gave away to charity had never been opened….

Maybe the best way to streamline possessions is to never buy things in the first place.  At the very least, not buy things that you don’t need.  The ability to instantly purchase items is both a modern convenience but also a trap.  Instead of going to a record store and purchasing an LP, we download from iTunes.  Instead of going to a shoe store, we buy something at Zappos.  And often the item appears on our doorstep faster than we ever could have gone to the store in the first place.

At the supermarket, some purchases are off our shopping list but many are impulsive purchases we make when we’re looking at a tempting item.  Most of us know the marketer’s strategy of putting candy and magazines at the checkout line and stacking tempting items at eye level on the shelves and not the bottom.

I’d like to share with you, Dear Readers, a strategy I’ve put into play about 6 weeks ago that seems to actually be working.  Except for things like milk or some other grocery essential, everything I buy is purchased on Saturday.  The simple rule is:

Put all items you want to buy on Saturday on the list by Friday at Midnight.

Anything I think of from Saturday at 12:01 AM onward goes on the next week’s list.  I keep this list on Remember the Milk with the tag “Saturday Spending.”  I even include the shop and hours, or the website/item address.  Here is what I’ve found this does:

  • I find that many of the items I put on the list I no longer want by Saturday and so I delete them.  For example, I saw on American Trench something called John F Kennedy socks.  White socks with two different stripes on top.  I had to have them.  Until I realized that I have a lot of socks and decided I don’t need them.
  • I find alternate ways to get things I want.  For example, I heard this great song by Vampire Weekend called White Sky.  In the past, I would have bought it on iTunes but this time I realized I can play it all I want using Amazon Prime Music.  Another time I heard a song on an album I’d owned in my (wasted) youth and this too I listened to on Prime Music and realized though I liked hearing it, I’d probably never listen to it again in the next ten years.
  • I discover that some things on my list I already have. No more 3 jars of mustard.
  • I do more shopping and compare items and offers and find better items or prices. For example I use latex gloves when applying stain and polish. In the past I’d automatically assume Amazon offered the best deal but it turned out that my local pharmacy had a two for one price on them this week.

Mostly this has resulted in the holy grail of minimalism:

Fewer but better.

And when if I ever do push the button on a major item, (I’m looking at you American Trench Coat in Dark Navy American Trench Coat in Dark Navy) I can do so knowing that I have mindfully bought it and did not merely do so on a whim.

I have not yet found that there has been any item that I just had to buy.  Sometimes I will put off doing tasks until I get the supplies.  For example, I needed to wait to buy painter’s tape so that I could begin to paint a room in my basement.  I have not yet found this to be an inconvenience.  There are times in the market that I want to buy something that looks delicious but I don’t.  I realize that I can, and if I decide to change this routine later I will, but for now the system is working.

UPDATE 04-10-2018 – I found my Square Chipless Reader.  I’d been looking for this in my office for two weeks and finally just today put it on my list to purchase on Saturday ($40- Amazon).  At work today I found it in the back corner of a seldom-used drawer.  I am so glad I’ve started to do this.  I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve rebought items I already had.  Yes.  I’m looking at you Fisher Space Pen, Nutmeg containers 2 and 3… et cetera…

Decrapitation – What’s in Your Bookmarks?


Bookmarks Picture

Time Required: About 15 minutes
Usefulness: High

I’m in the midst of an ongoing process of physical minimalism and simplification. This includes reducing my wardrobe, tools and possessions by reviewing and donating, recycling or discarding. Today’s project though involved my browser bookmarks.

Most of us know how quickly bookmarks can proliferate and replicate. When you see something on the internet that interests you, you bookmark it and most often those bookmarks are categorized into a miscellaneous or “uncategorized” category. I found that I had many bookmarks to programs I no longer use, like Ringcentral. (I switched from Ringcentral to HelloFax when Ringcentral raised their rates). I had not yet bookmarked HelloFax and would type it into the browser each time I used it. I was able to delete about 10 bookmarks quickly by deleting outdated bookmarks.

Next, I began to delete duplicates. There were a surprising amount because different browsers had labeled them as productivity versus work. Additionally, although they pointed essentially to the same site, such as my email program, they were labeled differently. One was labeled both as “P-Mail” and “Proton Mail”. Deleting duplicates got rid of another 20 or so.

The largest pool of deleted items were sites I was no longer interested in and that amounted to about 30-50 sites. But on the other hand, I re-discovered a dozen or so sites that really were interesting but that I’d forgotten about because the bookmarks became buried and I had not looked at them in months or years.

Finally, it was time to organize things and I made a few major changes in my system.  I went from places like “work” and “home” to functions such as “communication”, “productivity”, “blogs” and “interesting”.  The last category has many subcategories.

But in the end these are the advantages:

  1. My bookmarks are now more useful.  Previously I would not really even look at the bookmarks because they were so cluttered and disorganized and bloated that I could not find anything I really needed.
  2. I deleted items that I don’t use and that were bloat and distraction.  It’s a more simple “zen” approach.
  3. I re-discovered sites that I liked in the past.

So, Dear Readers, what’s in your bookmarks?