Liquid soap and body wash are typically sold in plastic containers with plastic (or plastic and metal) pumps. Tossing this packaging in the recycling bin is no guarantee it will actually undergo the costly, complex process of recycling. Moreover, the liquid state of these products makes them heavier to ship, adding to their carbon footprint.
Bar soap is far more efficient than liquid in terms of packaging and transport. However, most bar soaps contain palm oil or palm oil derivatives which are associated with rain forest destruction. Overall, the best choice for the environment is palm oil-free bar soap. Local options include our neighbors at Nether Providence Soap Company and Philly-based Hand in Hand soap.
For more information and thoughts on bar vs. liquid soap, check out this article published by McGill University’s Office for Science and Society and this article on SierraClub.org.