A few weeks ago, I wrote that I was considering buying shea butter from a health food store to use in place of my current lotion. Last week, I finally bought a container of it. Although I feel guilty about the plastic container it came in, the shea butter has been wonderful for the dry, cracked skin on my hands. I now have "summer hands" again, instead of painful "winter hands".
While using shea butter on my hands, I found that it was also excellent for chapped lips. However, I couldn't see using it regularly in lieu of my regular lip balm in that applying it required the use of a clean finger. I usually apply lip balm outdoors, miles from running water, and my hands get so dirty that I avoid touching my face.
Then, inspiration struck. I had an empty tube of lip balm, and realized that if I could just get some shea butter into the tube, I could apply shea butter the same way I've applied other lip balm.
What I did was put some shea butter in a tiny dish (actually the lid from a carton of soymilk) and place the dish in a slightly larger dish filled with hot water. The heat softened the shea butter. I then retracted the inner part of the tube approximately 5 mm and pressed some shea butter into the tube with my finger, and repeated the process until the dish was empty.
I now have a tube of shea butter that I can apply to my lips no matter how dirty my hands may be. Although the shea butter came in a plastic container, the amount of plastic is much less than if I'd continued buying new tubes of lip balm. The shea butter came in a 10 oz container, and each tube of lip balm contained only 0.14 oz, meaning that each container of shea butter is the equivalent of 71 tubes of lip balm. When I think of how much plastic goes into 71 tubes, I realize just how much plastic I'll be saving over the winter by using shea butter instead of my old lip balm. I wish I had a decent digital camera or an accurate scale, because I'd love to document just how much plastic can be saved by using a single container of shea butter instead of numerous throwaway tubes of lip balm.