Momma Val asked for an update on the soapnut experiment. You'll remember that SmellyAnn sent me some LaundryTree soapnuts a while back. They come with a little cloth bag that you put the soapnuts in and close with a drawstring. I've used them three times and have had no problems with the bag opening. They leave a faint fresh scent and no residue (or nut chunks). My only issue with them is actually an issue with myself. I tend to do almost all of my laundry in cold water, but soapnuts only work in warm (or hot) water. If you want to use cold water, you need to boil them in water first and essentially make your own detergent. Considering I can't be bothered to cook myself dinner, I don't see myself cooking my own laundry detergent. So if you do most of your laundry on warm, these may be the thing for you.
Recently I read about switching to bar soap on Going Green. I'd never thought of the environmental impact of using hand soap before, so this was an enlightening post for me. I do buy liquid soap in big refill bottles, which is better than if I'd been buying dispensers each time. But it's been bugging me ever since I read BurbanMom's post. So yesterday at the farmer's market, I picked up a bar of locally made gardener's soap. It has little bits of cornmeal in it to act as a scrubbing agent. I put it next to my kitchen sink, and now I'm hooked. My hands feel so clean! I'll definitely be getting a bar for the bathroom too.
The real challenge will be in the shower. I am a shower gel user. I've been using those (plastic) shower poofs for 15 years and I love them. My pores have a tendency to clog easily, and the poofs are very effective at removing dead skin. But the poofs have a fairly short shelf life and need regular replacement. When my last poof was on its last legs, I replaced it with a cloth version. The cotton poof doesn't work in the same way. It takes longer to maneuver, but it exfoliates just as well (or better). I just don't think using a bar of soap would have the same exfoliating effect, and that's not something I'm willing to sacrifice.