As we look forward to establishing settlements on the Moon, Mars, and other destinations, we need to strongly reevaluate the way we live. Not just how we handle our food, waste, and water, but we must consider the very habits we have all grown up with.

In a prior post I discussed the challenges of down-sizing my possessions.  While this process is on-going, I am expanding the experience to all aspects of my life.  There are many components of our lives that are non-productive to good health and quality of life … too-large portions of food, binging on NetFlix, even our base assumptions and prejudices challenge us here only when others force us to face them.

So where do I begin?  I considered how I dress, how I bathe, personal grooming, and …  and was very quickly overwhelmed with the possibilities.  In just a brief overview/evaluation there were dozens of areas that might be incompatible with a frontier settlement, many of which were subtle, or tiny activities that could very well risk disaster.

So then, again, where to begin.  With the simple things … grooming is one of the simplest.  Or at least the simplest to modify.

First there was the supplies I had in store already: hand/body soap, shampoo, the conditioner I like, toothbrush and tooth paste.  Then there are the devices: the shaver, my mustache groomer, and a water-pic.

So … soap. I generally shower at least once a day, my work being physical, and usually out in the heat.  I have found that a bar of soap is “used-up” quite quickly in the shower, diminishing in 2 – 4 weeks.  While most of this came from washing itself, I suspect some is due to the water flowing over the soap in the dish while rinsing. In reality, suggesting a lot of wasted soap down the drain.

So to make it last longer, I tried an experiment:  cutting a bar into three smaller portions and keeping only one portion in the shower.  The result was fascinating.  Each of the smaller portions lasted nearly two weeks each!  By dividing the original bar, I had doubled the time the original bar lasted.  What made me decide on three portions?  I have no idea, it just seemed right.  Could I further extend it by dividing it further?  Probably not.  I noticed that when cutting the bar, it tended to sliver-off a little, despite how sharp the knife was.  As a result, I suspect that attempting to create smaller portions would exacerbate the slivering, reducing the available soap available.

Next up was shampoo and conditioner.  During my showers I began reducing the portions used.  Over the past few weeks, I have found that it takes much less of both to accomplish reasonable cleaning.  In the process, a bottle of shampoo now lasts me more than 3 months.  By adjusting my use of conditioner in the same manner, similar results were obtained.

Overall, becoming more concious of the portions I was dispensing has made a marked improvement in how long my supplies are lasting.  Though, realizing just how small the portions need to be to be effective has been eye opening.  Some may recall an old Brylcream commercial where it was touted that a “little dab will do you” referring to their hair cream.  I am also reminded of a phrase from my youth … “all things in moderation”.

I have begun to apply the reduction experiments to other areas of my life, realizing that moderation may apply in the way I approach everything from grooming, to driving my vehicle.

This mind-set experiment has already generated some positive results, so stay tuned as the discovery continues.