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Lather Up

Editor-in-chief, gerontologist

March 2016 Then and Now Then soapGrowing up in a family of eight during the 60s and 70s, we didn’t have money for fancy beauty products. My mother bought store brands from the local grocery store or inexpensive name brands. Like many Americans at that time, our soap of choice was Ivory.  It was a cheap and simple white bar that rested on the shower soap dish and shared by the whole family. Eight people used the same bar of soap and the notion of shared germs and bacteria never occurred to us. I assumed that we all “rinsed off” the bar at the beginning and end of our showers and never gave it another thought. When the bar got too small and hard to handle, it was tossed out. In my grandparents’ generation however, these small slivers of soap were pieced together in a ball wrapped in netting and used again.  This was way too frugal for us!

March 2016 Then and Now now soapMany families today are switching over to liquid body wash. Different members often have a favorite brand in their own bottle or they share the same household bottle so there is no longer the idea of cross-contamination. Sharing a “family” bar of soap is just not done anymore. Overnight guests now pack their own body wash (not having to deal with transporting a slimy bar) or can use the host’s sanitary bottle of body wash without the worry of contracting any unwanted germs. Even our hand soaps have switched to a liquid form.

While all of this could be a step forward when looking at things on an infectious control level, it may not be so great environmentally. We may actually be using more product in liquid form as unused soap easily pours down the drain. It is just simpler to hold onto a bar of soap and use only what is needed. Also, packaging for both body wash and liquid hand soaps are bulkier resulting in more garbage that we have to dispose of.  



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Cynthia Lopinto

Cyn LoPinto, M.A. is a gerontologist focusing on significant issues affecting older adults and their families. Her areas of interest include lifestyle enrichment, family dynamics, and caregiver support. Cyn has worked in both the recreational and healthcare industries.

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