Our planet is hardcore. Despite how much humans have given her to deal with over the years, she’s stunningly resilient and powerful.
Still, there are more environmental challenges out there than ever, so it’s important to take note of what’s harmful and how you can rule if out. These are a few of the biggest culprits.
Most disposable products contribute significantly to water and soil pollution via plumbing and landfills. You might assume that plenty of disposables can simply be tossed into the recycle bin as long as they’re plastic or metal, but the reality is a bit more complicated.
Items like plastic bags, plastic utensils, straws, and of course the infamous coffee pods, very often don’t make it through the recycling process or aren’t suitable for it to begin with. This is usually due to either their chemical composition, their physical shape, or both. It’s wise to find out what your local recycling infrastructure can handle. If necessary, seek out specialized recycling resources, especially for plastic bags.
So, what to do? Reusable shopping bags, just for starters, are a no-brainer. Seek out biodegradable and reusable utensils. Clean with washable cloths instead of wipes. Ditch the coffee pods altogether, or consider a reusable coffee filter for your Aeropress. If you’re a tea person, go with loose-leaf rather than teabags.
When it comes to batteries, things get tricky. Common household alkaline batteries are much safer to dispose of than rechargeable batteries, but rechargeables help to curb your total waste. Choose your batteries based on what you need them for, and always dispose of them properly.
Phosphates are commonly found in dish and laundry detergents, as well as many other products. Their use contributes to health issues among humans and interferes with oxygen sources for fish and aquatic plants. Not ideal.
Meanwhile, synthetic fragrances in detergents and other chemical products do much more than provoke allergic, irritant, and asthmatic reactions in humans. They contain phthalates and parabens, both of which contribute to air and water pollution. So, also pretty bad.
Ok, deep breath.
The good news is that eco-friendly options without these contaminants are usually easy to find. From natural bleach alternatives to eco-friendly cleaners and perfume-free detergents, it’s often a matter of getting crafty and paying close attention to what your products contain.
Cosmetics & Personal Care Items
I know, it’s no fun to go after your cosmetics and personal care products too, but bear with us, this is a very important category.
Triclosan and siloxanes are compounds found in everything from makeup to lotion to dental hygiene products and beyond. The cosmetics preservatives BHA and BHT, as well as compounds in sunscreen such as oxybenzone, are also widespread.
All of these are slow to break down in aquatic environments and have well-established toxic effects on aquatic plant and animal life. Many have been linked (although not consistently) to issues with hormone function, reproduction, organ function, and other areas of human health.
As with household cleaning products, it’s not uncommon to find phosphates, phthalates, and parabens in cosmetics and personal care products. DBP, for instance, is a phthalate used to make nail polish less brittle.
Ok, you’ve made it. And there’s hope.
Healthier, eco-friendly cosmetic and personal care products are fortunately everywhere these days. You can even make your own using ingredients at home, like spent coffee grounds. They can go a long way towards minimizing your chemical footprint and sparing yourself potentially adverse health effects, so always know your ingredients!
Make something delicious: