If you're trying to minimize your plastic use at home after seeing the photos, the videos, the science and the art projects that emphasize how harmful plastic is, you're far from alone. But when it comes to changing habits, you may have found one room in your house particularly challenging: The bathroom. I've had much better luck cutting plastic in the kitchen by buying food in bulk, eschewing plastic bags for produce and take-home bags, and opting for aluminum or glass containers whenever I can. But the bathroom — the WC, the washroom, or "the john" — seems to have fewer options for reducing, or ideally eliminating, plastic use.
So far, I've switched to soap bars that come with just a simple band of paper around them instead of buying body washes, and I'm already using a shampoo bar for my infrequent hair-washing sessions, so that's two plastic bottles down. But there are so many others: I use deodorant, serums, and plenty of conditioner (I co-wash, using only conditioner to clean my hair most of the time), not to mention toothpaste, floss, face scrub and face masks, all of which come in plastic containers.
I take a lot of extra steps to avoid it, but I still find myself using more plastic than I want to. I hate to admit that sometimes we all need disposable packaging — and that means we need another packaging solution.
Nohbo drops the packaging
Enter Nohbo, one of the most interesting and innovative ideas I've seen in awhile. It's the brainchild of Benjamin Stern, who came up with the idea for his company at age 14. This is single-use shampoo or conditioner with an outer coating that melts in water, as you can see in the video above.
"NOHBO Drops are comprised of two parts," explains the Nohbo site. "An outer film utilizing the most advanced up-and-coming water-soluble technology, alongside a moisturizing base comprised of shampoo, conditioner, body wash or shaving cream."
Stern and his team have spent the last few years working and reworking the product, including finding money for research, which came via "Shark Tank." (Stern was on Season 7 of the show and got a $100,000 infusion from Mark Cuban, who owns a stake in it.) Nohbo is now available to pre-order in what will be a limited run this winter. But Stern has serious plans to go big. "The goal is to collect data and produce a case study that will show potential partners that the drops are feasible in this market," Stern told Medium. "Our goal is to spread Nohbo through retail with large cosmetic companies like Loreal and Dove so that we can be in every Walgreens and CVS in the world. That’s where we’re going to make the biggest difference." Not bad for a now 18-year-old.
I love that the company has taken what's inside the single-serve drops of product as seriously as they have the special melty packaging. The cleansers and conditioners contain no parabens, preservatives or artificial fragrances.
And they're taking direct aim at one of my personal frustrations. "Hotels are a huge source of waste. They order billions of amenity bottles a year, and pay around $0.25 per shampoo bottle which comprises up to 85% water. The biggest thing in the cosmetics industry right now is creating anhydrous, or water-free products. Disney has pledged to give up 80% of single-use plastic, Marriott as well. Hotels can meet their zero waste goals with Nohbo while cutting costs and providing guests a novel and clean amenity offering."
I look forward to seeing Nohbo when I travel in a few years.