Even if you’re doing your best to be an eco-awesome consumer and trying make your voice heard when it comes to purchasing products that are Earth-friendly, there are some products out there that claim to be good for the environment that simply aren’t. Think twice before you buy or use one of the five products below.
#1 – Warm Air Hand Dryers in Public Restrooms
Now more than ever, public restrooms come stocked with forced-air hand dryers designed to help “save the trees” by taking the place of paper towels. Unfortunately, they aren’t the best choice if you are looking to reduce the bacteria on your hands. Though it’s true that they can help save trees and most public places – restaurants, convenience stores, and even doctors’ offices – switch to warm air hand dryers to save money on paper towels, research shows they actually spread germs rather than help to get rid of them. Yuck.
#2 – Paper Coffee Cups
If you’re like millions of Americans, there’s a good chance you’re a frequent flyer at places like Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts, and we don’t blame you. They make fantastic coffee, after all. The next time you decide to stop for a nonfat venti latte with extra vanilla, though, consider bringing your own travel mug. Even though that cup says it can be recycled, the sad truth is that most never are. Big changes are coming in the UK to stop the seven million paper cups that find their way into UK landfills every year. Here in the US, you can do your part by bringing your own cup from home.
#3 – Cleansing and Disinfecting Wipes
Cleansing and disinfecting wipes can be found in offices, classrooms, homes, and businesses across the country, but they aren’t doing anyone any favors. Disinfecting wipes, especially, just aren’t necessary, and they are causing more problems than you might be aware of. Not only do these wipes contain chemicals and pesticides, but they also find their way into landfills where they can pollute groundwater. When they’re flushed down the toilet, they cause even more problems. Just ask New York City, which spent $18 million in five years due to clogged screens in wastewater treatment facilities.
#4 – Plastic Toothbrushes
Plastic toothbrushes may seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but the truth is that Americans alone dump a weight equivalent to a loaded Carnival cruise worth of plastic toothbrushes into landfills every single year. Plastic toothbrushes are made from materials that simply do not biodegrade, but fortunately, there are some alternatives. Bamboo toothbrushes – when made with sustainable, panda-friendly bamboo – are products you can feel good about buying. Ditch the plastic and vote with your wallet.
#5 – Disposable Razors
Last, but most certainly not least, disposable razors deserve a spot on this list. The concept of a disposable razor is amazing, and thanks to their introduction, more people than ever can enjoy a close, convenient shave. When we toss our old, dull razors, they sit in landfills for thousands of years. If you must buy disposable razors, extend their lives by keeping them dry when they aren’t in use. Otherwise, if you have the means to do so, invest in a safety razor with a blade you can sharpen (although there might be a small learning curve) this is much better for the environment. If that isn’t an option for you, consider an electric shaver. It uses only a small amount of electricity and replaces dozens of razors in its lifetime. The environment will thank you.
There are all kinds of products out there that claim to be good for the environment, including hand dryers and paper coffee cups and even disinfecting wipes that will break down – eventually. The trouble with many of these products is that they aren’t as good for the environment as they seem, so be sure to do some research before you buy.