Sometimes we don’t know any better and other times we’re just too lazy: Every day we consume things that harm our health and are detrimental to the planet. These eight things should never enter your home again.
Many common brands of shower gel or body scrub use tiny plastic beads for exfoliation. Local water treatment facilities cannot properly filter out these microplastics, so they all are flushed directly into our water supply. There they attract further contaminants and collect on the beds of lakes, rivers, and oceans. Fish and waterfowl are also harmed by microplastics, because they ingest these particles with their food. And all that, despite the fact that there are plenty of natural alternatives, making plastic additives entirely unnecessary!
Virgin Toilet Paper
Yes, some people are so hardcore they survive without toilet paper, but that’s not what we’re suggesting here. When buying toilet paper, most of us are only concerned with softness and price. Few pay attention to what it’s made out of – and that’s not good, since most regular toilet paper is made from new timber.
If you don’t want to simply flush our forests away, it’s a good idea to purchase toilet paper made from recycled fibers. And don’t worry: Today’s recycled toilet paper is a far cry from the gray, scratchy stuff regularly stocking public toilets.
Lots of people use aluminum foil to wrap up food, but it’s a bad idea: aluminum production processes are extremely harmful to the environment, and aluminum presents real individual health risks. It can cause nerve damage and reduce bone density. It is also believed to negatively impact fertility, as well as potentially harm the fetus. There is also a possible link between aluminum and cancer as well as Alzheimer’s disease.
Aluminum foil becomes a health risk when it comes into contact with acidic, fatty, basic, or salty foods. These react with the metal, causing aluminum ions to be released into the food. Try reusing a screw-top glass jar instead.
Harmful Detergents (Meaning Most of Them)
How lovely to take gleaming white laundry out of the washer! Yet it’s not so lovely if your detergent of choice uses dubious ingredients to do so. Unfortunately, many common detergents contain persistent pollutants in the form of tensides, stabilizers, sequestrants, optical whiteners, chemical bleaches, and preservatives. Check out, for example, Tide Pods Free & Gentle or All Free & Clear at the Environmental Working Group’s detergent rankings – two products whose names may make you think they have fewer additives than regular detergent. Yet their ingredients cannot be completely filtered out by water treatment facilities, so they enter and accumulate in open waters and the soil. There they poison plants and animals and even threaten our groundwater.
Pick out a new, A-rated organic detergent using the EWG’s list: brands like Attitude, biokleen, Fit, or Seventh Generation.
Whether milk is healthy for us is heavily contested. What is not contested, however, is that one should not buy inexpensive, conventionally-produced milk. As milk prices fall lower and lower, farmers cannot produce milk at cost. Unless, of course, they make worse milk: cheaper feed, worse conditions for the animals, less hygiene, more hormones to increase production per cow. If you don’t want to support this race to the bottom, purchase fairly-priced organic milk instead. Here, as always: better to make do with less, but of better quality!
Every cup sends an aluminum capsule to the dump, coffee that’s up to four times more expensive than fair trade brands: Even if it seems convenient, do not buy a pod coffee maker! If you already have one, switch to reusable coffee pods – these allow you to choose the coffee of your choice and produce no additional waste. Check out our review of three filters for your Nespresso maker here.
Why are you still buying bottled water? If you’re reading this, you likely have a virtually free source of high-quality drinking water delivered directly to your home: Tap water costs less than a penny per gallon and is unquestionably drinkable almost everywhere in the US. Tap water is tested regularly, and those tests prove that tap water often contains more minerals and fewer contaminants than bottled water. So drink what’s on tap!
Catalogs and advertisements clog our mailboxes and land in our paper recycling without being opened. Their production requires an unnecessary amount of paper and energy. When something you never read lands in your mailbox, contact the distributor directly to remove your name from mailing lists; explicitly request that your name and address not be sold to other marketers. Ecocycle lists a number of resources for removing yourself from direct mailing lists, as well as reducing mailings from charities and groups you do support.
– by Martin Tillich