5 Common Household Products Terrible for the Environment

At LoaTree, we believe that a happy, sustainable life goes hand in hand with environmentally sustainable practices. We make a conscious effort to consider our global impact when choosing the products we use on a daily basis. The average American citizen produces 4.6 pounds of trash and uses about 80 – 100 gallons of water per day, and the contaminants in that waste can cause even more severe damage to our planet. Many items commonly found in U.S. households and grocery stores contain harsh chemicals, non-biodegradable materials, and non-recyclable plastics that contaminate our natural resources and harm our wildlife. So before reaching for that name-brand dish soap again, consider the negative long-term impact that some of your common household products may have on the environment.

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1) Microbeads

Found in body scrubs, face washes, and toothpastes, microbeads are tiny plastic pellets that are typically used as an exfoliant. While the texture might feel nice while scrubbing your face at night, these non-biodegradable bits are washed right down the sink drain and wind up in our oceans. Because of their tiny size, the pellets are able to bypass water filtration systems – contributing to the massive amount of plastic in the ocean and contaminating the food supply of marine life at the bottom of the food chain.

An alternative:

There is no need to use plastic beads as an exfoliant while there are numerous all-natural alternatives that can achieve the same effect! Sea salt, sugar, oatmeal, and ground nut shells can all be utilized as scrubs that have no negative environmental impact. Check out Loa’s go-to sugar scrub recipe!

Flickr: Your Best Digs

2) Wet Wipes

Even though these handy disposable wipes are marked as “flushable,” they contain plastic and therefore are non-biodegradable. When they are flushed instead of disposed of in the trash, they do not break down like toilet paper, but rather cause huge blockages in sewer systems. The Marine Conservation Society saw a 400% increase in wet wipes found along our coast over the past decade, and as they break down they release microscopic fragments of plastic into the ocean. This has a direct effect on our marine life, as The Society additionally determined that more than a million seabirds and 100,000 mammals and sea turtles die globally each year from entanglement, or ingestion of plastics.

An alternative:

While there are a few companies that have produced more environmentally-friendly disposable wipes, you can opt to throw used wipes away in the trash rather than flushing them. The best solution, of course, would be to switch to a reusable wet cloth for cleaning and cosmetic purposes instead.

Unsplash: Gianni Zanato

3) K – Cups

In 2017, studies showed that 33% of U.S. households owned a single-cup brewing system. While these coffeemakers are ideal for sparing paper coffee filters or grabbing a quick cup of joe while you’re running out the door, the disposable coffee pods that are used in these machines are typically made from aluminum and plastic, and are very difficult to breakdown. Since they are not recyclable or biodegradable, every cup of coffee brewed with a pod results in additional plastic being sent to landfills. There’s no sign of the machine sales slowing down, either: since 2008, pod-machine sales have increased six-fold, making appearances in homes, offices, and waiting rooms across the nation.

An alternative:

While there have been no changes made to the components of the original coffee pods, there are reusable versions of the pods that you can purchase to use in your machine instead. Not only does this mean you can have your preferred brand of choice every morning, but you’ll also be reducing your daily plastic output. Enjoy your freshly ground grinds, save money on pods, and help reduce plastic waste!

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4) Single-use razors

While many strive for that fresh-razor shave, disposable razors directly contribute to our plastic output. The EPA estimates that, on average, 2 billion single-use razors are thrown away each year. Depending on your local recycling center, you may be able to recycle the steel blades, but the plastic handles are unable to be reused and are sent straight to the landfill. As the weather heats up and shaving season quickly approaches, consider the impact that this bathroom product has (along with the demanding manufacturing process and plastic packaging).

An alternative:

Consider investing in an electric razor, a reusable razor with replaceable blades, or a straight razor. If you truly enjoy the convenience of disposable razors, opt for one made from recycled materials. Enjoy your smooth skin while saving money and reducing your carbon footprint.

Flickr: Sara Tae Yamazaki

5) Disposable Chopsticks

Commonly found in the bags of takeout from your favorite sushi restaurant, disposable wooden chopsticks are not only bad for the environment, but they could also be harmful to your personal health. Over 20 million mature trees are cut each year in order to produce these utensils that are thrown away shortly after their use. In addition, toxins such as acid, bleach, harsh chemicals, and even preservatives, are used in the manufacturing process to create a uniform grain and color.

An alternative:

Just say no! Avoid picking up disposables next time you order out, and instead keep a pair of reusable chopsticks at home. Whether they’re metal or properly sourced wooden ones, you can spare the chemicals and still enjoy your favorite dishes.

 

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The items we use on a daily basis have a direct impact on our surroundings in more ways than you might think. Whether it be choosing a detergent without harmful sulfates, opting for a toothbrush with a natural bamboo handle, or simply switching to reusable totes rather than plastic bags, there are numerous swaps to make in your everyday routine that will contribute to a healthier planet.

 

 

 

 

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