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Friday, July 4, 2014

Use Less Products

Most of us buy many products: soap; detergent; hand cream, etc.  These come at a cost to you, most of the time, a direct cost (you go and buy the product).  Is it possible to use less of these?

For example, dish washing soap.  If you are lucky enough to have the use of a dishwasher in your place, try to see if using half the recommended detergent would work.  If found that in my dishwasher, I can use ½ of a tablet (the ones that are easy to break) does a great job; my cost for dishwasher detergent just got cut in half!

Try the same with laundry detergent.  If you go to a Laundromat and the soap is included in the cost of the wash, save a bit in a container - you can use it later to hand wash a few items.  Often, 30 to 50% less soap will not make a difference in how clean your clothes are.

So how do I go about this? I first reduce by consumption by ¼ (for those not so good at math, I use ¾ of what is recommended or what I normally use); I do this for about 3-4 times (smell may need to accumulate in clothing before we realize that it’s not being cleaned properly).  Then, I cut down again, for another 3-4 times.  I keep on doing that until I find a problem and then I move back up to the last ‘dose’ that worked.  That’s my minimum-working dose.

How about shampoo and conditioner? Do you need to wash your hair every day or is rinsing enough?  I have long hair and I like to wet it thoroughly every day so it looks fresh; however, I shampoo one day and condition the next.  I also use a very small amount of shampoo (if you find it hard to control the amount of shampoo you use, pour the shampoo in a pump bottle and go from X pumps per shower to a very small one.  This can probably be said of most beauty product; you can typically use less and be just as clean and healthy.

I also find that my regular spray detergent for wiping counter tops (essential when living with others – you don’t know what is growing on there!) does just as good a job when diluted half-and-half with water (I keep a spare bottle and label it well) – again, the cost of that bottle was just cut in half.   Also, beware of super-concentrated-product-that-uses-less-packaging-but-cost-the-same-as-the-regular-product; yes, the concentrated product uses less packaging, but is it a ploy to make you pay more for less product, knowing that even if it is more concentrated you will use the same amount as before? You’ve got to wonder…

Also, beware of marketing and the goal of a soap company: they want you to like their product and buy more as often as possible.  Doesn’t it make sense then that they want you to use large quantities of their product for every wash you do (whether it’s shampoo or laundry soap)? So they are more likely to suggest a large amount of their product for every use.

Of course there are places where you should not use less: prescription medication is an important example.  It is important that you take the full dose your physician has recommended.  As well, I would not skimp on hand soap; clean hands are an important way to stay healthy and avoid colds and more serious illnesses during your studies and if you need lots of soap to do so, use it!  I also need lots of paper (yes, physical paper) when I study, so I use as much as I need without worrying about the cost.  This helps me reduce the anxiety before exams and increase my grades.  Well worth it!

The bottom line: use your brain to determine how much product you need, not the manufacturer’s suggestion.

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