While we may not notice all the ways pollution affects our everyday lives, it’s more than just littering on the ground or forgetting to recycle. Discover five things you may be using every day that are surprisingly causing damage to your home--the earth. Don’t worry, we’re not just going to talk about the bad, we’ve also got you covered with readily available alternatives!
1. Skin-care Products
Something as simple as your morning bathroom routine might not come to mind when you think about being a friend to mother earth. Many scrubs and even kinds of toothpaste around the world contain tiny particles of plastic called microbeads. These microbeads find their way into oceans where they are swallowed by marine animals and ultimately destroy ocean life and corals.
Microbeads are already banned in the US and are on their way to being fully banned in Canada for rinsable products, meaning anything that you rinse off after using. The ban came about when consumers refused to purchase products with microbeads in them - a good stepping stone to changing our attitudes towards other harmful products! However, the big problem is that microplastics and other plastic pollutants are still allowed in products that are not rinsed off such as eyeliner, lipstick, and sunscreen.
Simply choose skin-care products that do not contain microbeads/plastic pollutants. How? Although these bad ingredients can come with a variety of long names like polyethylene, polylactic acid, polypropylene, polystyrene, and polyethylene terephthalate, if you can remember the root of the problem - poly - you can recognize them all. Of course, not every ingredient that starts with poly is going to be bad for you but instead of trying to remember every one of them I just stick with that simple rule and keep it as natural as possible. So if you see something with her on the list just remember to put Poly the Polluter back on the shelf.
Check out Beat the Microbead, for more ways on making more eco-friendly consumer choices. They also have an app that scans products and lets you know if they contain plastic ingredients!
Alternatively, look for scrubs with natural exfoliates like sugar or apricot shells which instead of artificial plastic particles are easy to find at beauty stores with natural options like The Body Shop or Lush. You could also easily try a DIY route, and concoct your own products with recipes like this fun Glowing Beauty Mask made from banana peels!
2. Flavoured Coffee
Your delicious cup of morning coffee might be causing serious damage to our environment because of a chemical called propylene glycol (PG). Scarily enough, this chemical is also found in the making of antifreeze. PG kills aquatic animals by consuming their oxygen (CCME.ca).
Simply indulging in a regular cup of coffee would do the trick to avoid this harmful chemical. Although some of us love our peppermint mochas and caramel whosits and whatsits, giving them up for the sake of our environment (and, if we’re really being honest, our sugar intake, too) is definitely worth our while.
3. Polyester clothing
Not only does plastic end up in our cosmetics and our food, but it also ends up in our clothes, too! Did you know that when we wash polyester or other synthetic clothing, little particles of plastic aka microfibers, come apart from the fabrics?
These microfibers, run down the drain, ending up in the ocean and unfortunately, into the bellies of fish. In fact, a single wash could release up to 700,000 fibers - not too trendy, says the ocean! While shopping can be fun, clothes have more of an impact on us than just aesthetics, as these seemingly harmless plastic particles have the potential to kill any marine ecosystem they cross paths with.
Eco- Friendly Alternative:
When browsing the store, watch out for polyester/synthetic clothing fabrics! Or, if you can’t resist purchasing your favourite pair of polyester leggings, or have synthetic materials already sitting in your closet, you can make an effort to wash them less. When it does come time for washing, think about using innovative products like the Guppy Friend - a bag that captures 99% of microfibers during washing. While hard to spot, microfibers have a huge impact on the environment. Being mindful of the numerous ways to microfiber pollution and applying them to your everyday life means a happier ocean and a happier you.
--Pssst! Mother Erth is an advocate for real change in the fashion industry and the environment. We provide sustainable fashion and upcycled choices, with fashionable bags made out of recycled plastic! When purchasing this fashion piece, you can rest assured that no unnecessary pollution is occurring underneath the surface - just the efficient use of recycled materials, guilt-free!
4. Cell phones and tech accessories
Ring, ring! It’s your cell phone calling to inform you that it can be a huge factor in harming our environment. We all love to get our hands on the hottest phone in the market, however, due to the high turnover rates, a study found that over a HUNDRED MILLION phones are dumped in landfills every year in the US alone - that’s just a third of the American population! Plastics make up a 40% of your phone, so once disposed of the plastic makes it harder to break down. As well, just like our environment, our phones need protection too, however phone cases and other accessories also contain plastic that can end up discarded and misplaced in ecosystems.
Show your phone some love and try to keep it as long as possible without trading it in for the latest version. Keeping your phone for an extra 1-4 years cuts the number of phones in sent to landfills by half, and still keeps you connected. When it comes to phone protection, look out for cases that don’t contain plastic and instead contain recycled materials! For example, Pela Case sells reliable and compostable phone cases for all!
5. BPA thermal paper receipts
We all want to make smarter financial decisions, and tracking purchases by keeping receipts is an easy way to do that. However, those receipts often contain the plastic chemical BPA, which is harmful not only to human health but is also often littered and dumped in landfills and oceans, which surprise, surprise, kills marine life.
The easiest way to avoid BPA is to not accept receipts at stores, and if you pay with a card, you can use online banking to track your transitions. You can also choose to ask for a digital receipt (ie. an email confirmation) instead of a physical copy.
...And there you have it! Just a few things that pollute the environment with plastic materials and chemicals and the simple ways to combat them. We go about our everyday lives coming into contact with items that we don’t associate with environmental damage, but in reality, these small consumer products (which really add up to something bigger) have a lot to do with our increasing environmental concerns. Each of us can do our small but noble part to be more aware of the activities we engage in, the products we buy, and the world we live in.