Shower Blocks: A Plastic Free Mission

Hey there! I’m Neil, the founder/maker of Shower Blocks.

Did you know that so far, I have actually hand made every single one of our solid shower gels myself (so far around 100,000 bars and counting). I’m on my own personal mission, and i want to let you know just how, and why I got here.

The Plastic Problem

In the UK it’s estimated that UK homes throw away 100 billion pieces of plastic a year, which is 66 pieces per household per week. That’s 2.5million metric tonnes!

In the beginning on 2019 I started to feel frustrated about the amount of shower gel bottles i was getting through myself, and so decided I wanted to find an option that was plastic free.

I was no plastic free expert but I’d been inspired by the David Attenborough documentary that everyone was talking about at the time (Blue Planet 2), where one episode in particular focussed on plastics entering the ocean and the image of an old grocery bag floating past a deceased baby whale was engrained on me. I wanted to make a change, but wasn’t quite sure how at that time.

I didn’t actively go looking for something to make, and I had another business at the time that was doing ok and needed all my time… and really It was only when I was stood in the shower staring at my leading brand bottle of shower gel and doing the numbers on how many I alone used a year then started to scaling it up to the UK population I realised just how big a problem that alone could be.

The UK shower gel market at that time was worth approx £400m/year in the UK alone which if we consider the average price of shower gel to be around £3 a bottle taking into account entry tiers and premium ranges, then that’s circa 133 million bottles.

That’s a staggering number of bottles, but then, If you go one step further and look into recycling rates and see that only 60% of plastic bottles are recycled  that then means crudely (back of the hand maths), 53 million bottles a year are sent to landfill (or the ocean) each year from the UK alone. Just in case you were wondering, according to Statista, the global market size on shower gel alone is $14b… yep!

So, off I trotted, and picked up a bunch of different products online or in stores, expecting to be able to easily find what I wanted… And then, i struggled to find one that i could really get on board with! The soaps I tried in my price range were either far too drying on my skin (you know that tight feeling you get when you wash off the lather), or products I really liked were far too expensive to consider for regular usage. To me spending over £5 felt too much for a daily wash.

Making A Natural Replacement

Frustrated at the predicament, i decided to just get out there and make a plastic free shower gel replacement myself. One that didn’t compromise on quality but was cheap enough for most to feel comfortable buying.

This was no easy task – starting from ground zero, over the course of around 6 months, I learned to make soap-based products from scratch and set about creating what would become Shower Blocks for my own usage. I won’t sugar coat it, making these products is really hard especially when you want lots of people to like the same thing even though there’s just soooo many different skin types out there.

I worked really hard to find the right balance of ingredients, with them chosen specifically for a particular part of the skin moment under usage; from how it lathers up, to the feel of the lather on your skin as well as how the lather looks.

The most important part, and what I must admit I obsessed over was the way it washed off. There had to be no tight-skinned soapy feel and no dry skin after usage.

Shower Blocks contain a unique blend of 6 plant oils (RSPO Palm, Coconut, Olive Pomace, Hemp Seed, Sunflower and Castor) as well as additional moisturisers and fragrances. They’re are SLS, SLES and paraben free as well as being 96% natural (100% natural EO versions coming soon!).

I’d not initially intended to launch Shower Blocks as a business, but we all remember what happened in 2020. We had both Brexit and Covid to contend with, and the business that I’d be spending all my time on was absolutely decimated by both, losing a very high percentage of sales through not being able to distribute to Europe and then losing a lot of trade during the lockdown and following periods.

At this moment I knew I had a choice, it was either go and get a ‘proper’ job when it was allowed, or take this shower gel replacement idea and run with it. Ever the risk taker, I chose the latter, and fortunately my now wife was very supportive.

Shower Blocks Pepper Mint

Shower Blocks was launched in November 2020 and it’s been a fun and challenging ride ever since. So far we’ve sold well over 100,000 bars (around 150,000 plastic bottles worth) and not aiming to stop here.

I’ve so far been invigorated by customer responses and whilst it’s a hugely challenging climate, this time for very different reasons, I’m working hard on our plastic free mission to ditch single use plastics from the bathroom one shower gel bottle (and now shampoo) at a time!

This blog was written by Neil Whippey the founder for Shower Blocks

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