Next up in our series of lower-waste options, which offers explorations of the lower-waste products out there for when you're not able to find something package free, is... dish soap! If there aren't any locations near you where dish soap is sold in bulk (you can do a quick check here for a local bulk option, though that list isn't exhaustive by any means so don't give up if you don't see anything near you!), there are a few alternatives that could still help shift your kitchen towards a bit more sustainability.
-Go with a concentrated version and dilute it yourself at home. Since concentrated versions contain less water, purchasing them doesn't waste as much energy simply shipping water around the globe as conventional versions do. Plus, since a smaller amount is more potent, less plastic packaging is needed to house the dish soap. I'm not an expert in picking out concentrated versions, but this article gives some advice on natural and sustainable (ish) dish soaps you can find on the shelves of major retailers.
-Dr. Bronner's liquid castile soap: You can purchase the soap online in a huge bottle - the same that I purchase it from when I buy it in bulk; this effectively allows you to buy the soap in bulk (just all at once!), reducing the amount of plastic you need. The downside, of course, is that something like this will be shipped in a cardboard box, but maybe you can call around to local retailers to see if that extra-large size is sold anywhere locally. Dr. Bronner's is one of the most multipurpose cleaning tools I know, and you can use it for so many things around the home - making homemade laundry detergent, wiping down surfaces, in the shower, and more! Plus, it's fair trade, organic, and super affordable. Downsides: some people don't like using it on their dishes (it can leave dishes feeling kind of squeaky), but I diluted it with water (Dr. Bronner's recommends a 1:10 soap to water ratio) and it worked well for me. My friend Sally suggests diluting small amounts at a time rather than your whole batch at once, to keep the ingredients potent (see her comment below!).
-Common Good dish soap: Like Dr. Bronner's, Common Good lets you purchase a bulk-sized container of their dish soap for home use. Their five gallon container is definitely very pricey, but will last you for years and years. (I've been using a sixteen ounce size of their dish soap for months already and it's barely halfway gone). They also offer refill stations around the country, and you can look for one in your area here (or ask a local business to stock their goods if no one does!).
-Bar soap: Reader Brynn suggests using bar soap, picking up the lather on your dish brush the same way you'd wash your hands (see her comment below). I'm so eager to try this, because bars of soap are one of the easiest things to find completely package-free (pretty much every Whole Foods sells unpackaged bar soap, but there are many other places to find it, too).
-Homemade: My friend Elizabeth has been steadily perfecting her homemade recipe, and has kindly agreed to share it here. Her soap is super foamy, and gets a pleasant scent and antibacterial properties from essentials. Stay tuned for the recipe, which I'll post soon.
What do you use for dish soap? Are there any great options I missed? If you'd like, you can browse the rest of the low-waste options series here. And, if you'd like me to feature something specific in this series, let me know - I'm all ears.
Disclosure: I received samples from a few of these folks while researching products to include in this post. All opinions are my own. Thank you for reading!