“Why You Should Avoid These 7 Eco-Friendly Products”

“Why You Should Avoid These 7 Eco-Friendly Products”

Sustainability and eco-friendliness are important, but some products marketed as “green” may do more harm than good. Here are 7 eco-friendly products you should think twice about buying, and why.

1. Bamboo Products

Bamboo is often touted as a sustainable alternative to wood, but bamboo is far from an ethical choice. Here’s why you should avoid bamboo products:

  • Bamboo is harvested at an unsustainably fast rate. Entire groves are cleared in just 3-5 years, preventing regeneration. This leads to soil erosion and habitat loss.

  • Most bamboo comes from China and is treated with dangerous chemicals like formaldehyde. This negates any eco-friendly benefits.

  • Bamboo processing is high-polluting. Toxic solvents are used to break it down into plyable material.

  • Cheap bamboo products are made with adhesives that release VOCs (volatile organic compounds). These contribute to indoor air pollution.

  • Well-made bamboo furniture tends to be quite expensive, so it’s not an affordable green option for most.

Instead of bamboo, opt for sustainable wood from FSC-certified sources, or recycled materials. These are more eco-friendly alternatives than conventionally-produced bamboo.

2. Biodegradable Dog Poop Bags

While biodegradable dog poop bags seem like an earth-friendly choice, most bags labeled this way won’t biodegrade readily. Here’s what to know:

  • Most biodegradable bags require very specific conditions to decompose. They won’t break down fully when simply discarded.

  • “Biodegradable” labels are not regulated. Many bags marketed this way contain little to no biodegradable material.

  • Even truly biodegradable poop bags can take many months or years to decompose, all while leaching contaminants.

  • Manufacturing biodegradable plastics often utilizes harmful chemicals like phthalates. This creates pollution.

You’re better off choosing 100% compostable dog waste bags made of plant-based materials like corn starch. Or, opt for reusable cloth bags that can be washed. These are more eco-friendly poop bag options.

3. K-Cup Coffee Pods

While K-Cups provide a quick coffee fix, the plastic pods have some not-so-eco-friendly drawbacks:

  • K-Cups produce a massive amount of plastic waste‚ÄĒenough to wrap around the equator 10 times annually!

  • The tiny size and mix of plastic and aluminum foil make pods very difficult to recycle. Less than 10% get recycled.

  • Single-use pods require more resources like water and ethically-sourced coffee beans per cup of coffee. This drives up environmental impacts.

  • K-Cups generate more carbon emissions per cup of coffee compared to drip brew methods. More energy is used in manufacturing.

You’re better off choosing coffee in compostable pods or reusable filter baskets. Or opt for traditional drip brewing. These methods are kinder to the planet than single-use plastic K-Cups.

4. Paper Straws

Many restaurants have swapped plastic for paper straws in an effort to reduce waste. However, paper straws have some eco issues to consider:

  • Paper straws require more energy and chemicals to produce than plastic straws. This increases their carbon footprint.

  • Paper straws often degrade too quickly, breaking down in drinks before use is over. This leads to more straw waste.

  • Disabled people who need straws for drinking report paper varieties don’t meet their needs. Plastic flex is required.

  • Manufacturing paper straws contributes to deforestation when wood pulp isn’t sourced sustainably.

For an eco-friendly solution, choose reusable straws made of glass, bamboo, or metal. Or, skip the straw altogether. These options reduce waste without increasing environmental costs like paper straws.

5. Paraffin Candles

Paraffin wax candles are made from petroleum. When burned, they release compounds like toluene and benzene into the air. Here’s why paraffin candles aren’t so eco-friendly:

  • Paraffin wax is a byproduct of petroleum refining. Using it creates more demand for crude oil drilling.

  • Additives like dyes and synthetic fragrances make paraffin candles especially polluting when burned.

  • Toxins released into the air can accumulate in the body over time, potentially causing health issues.

  • Soots released by paraffin candles cling to walls and fabrics, dirtying indoor air quality.

Instead of petroleum-based paraffin, choose renewable, non-toxic beeswax or soy wax candles. These burn cleaner without the use of harmful chemicals.

6. Conventional Sunscreen

While sunscreen is vital for skin protection, typical formulas contain many harsh chemicals:

  • Ingredients like oxybenzone and octinoxate are common in traditional sunscreens. Studies link these to hormone disruption and reef bleaching.

  • Nanoparticle titanium and zinc oxides in some sunscreens can harm aquatic life when washed off in oceans.

  • Many sunscreen chemicals have poor biodegradability and bioaccumulate in nature when washed off skin.

For a reef-safe, eco-friendly choice, look for sunscreens with simple, non-nano mineral ingredients like uncoated zinc oxide. Or, choose an organic sunscreen free of harsh synthetic chemicals.

7. Glitter Products

While pretty, glitter is a plastic that can’t be recycled. Here’s why glittery products aren’t great for the environment:

  • Most glitter starts as sheets of PET plastic or mylar, which are cut into tiny pieces. These microplastics easily wash into waterways.

  • Glitter bits are mistaken for food by birds, fish, and other wildlife. When ingested, sharp edges damage intestines and organisms starve.

  • Non-biodegradable glitter fragments never fully break down. It accumulates in ecosystems, concentrating up the food chain to larger animals.

  • Many cosmetics and kids’ products contain glitter. This introduces lots of microplastic pollution when washed down drains.

Opt for accessories, craft supplies, and cosmetics without plastic glitter. Choose natural alternatives like mica powder for sparkle instead. Better yet, leave it out altogether.

In Conclusion

Being a mindful consumer means thoroughly researching products that seem eco-friendly on the surface. Often, little changes like skipping the glitter or reusable straw can reduce your environmental impact. Consider the full lifecycle of products you bring home to make truly green choices. With care and research, we can all make more sustainable purchasing decisions.