Why Do We Need Eco-Friendly Products?
Taking care of the environment is everybody’s business. We only have one Earth and if we don’t take care of it no one will. Don’t set your hopes on your representatives or corporations to fix the environment or do something about the pollution poisoning our air, water, land, and bodies. Many law makers are too busy serving the interests of Big Business or lack a genuine green education and the courage to make a real change.
The good news is that you can always vote with your money when it comes to environmental protection by investing your hard-earned cash into eco-friendly products that can have a huge long-term impact. You can also educate your loved ones on the importance of spending their money wiser, being environmentally mindful, and using eco-friendly products. As one wise man once said, “The change starts within each one of us.”
Pollution: The Cold, Hard Facts
To put things into perspective, here are some sobering facts on pollution:
- About 14 billion pounds of waste end up in our oceans every year, with most of it being plastics.
- Nine in 10 seabirds have ingested plastic and carry it in their stomachs.
- A plastic bottle needs 450-500 years to decompose while the nearly indestructible PET containers will never decompose.
- A plastic bag needs 100 years to biodegrade and less than 1% of the plastic bags we take home from stores are recycled; the rest pile up in landfills or end up in the ocean.
- After plastic is (finally) decomposed it morphs into toxic microplastics.
- The world recycles just 9% of the plastics it produces.
- Plastic bottle production requires 1.5 million barrels of oil every year; more oil is used to transport them around.
- Glass bottles never biodegrade, although they might… in millions of years.
- It takes 500 years for a single-use diaper to biodegrade.
- One supersized cargo ship transporting goods halfway around the world emits as many carbon emissions as 50 million cars; it takes just 15 of those ships (each reaching six football fields in length) to match the CO2 emissions of all the world’s vehicles in use.
Why Do We Need Eco-Friendly Products?
An eco-friendly product is a product that is less harmful for the environment than their regular counterparts. If more people started buying eco-friendly products, pollution would not be so rampant, our plant would have a timeout to breathe and regenerate, and our families and communities would be healthier in the long term. Plus, eco-friendly products are not only great for the environment, they are also beneficial for the human health. Here’s a list on how to spot an eco-friendly product. Genuine eco-friendly products check as many of the following boxes:
- They can make a real difference by enabling us to reduce our environmental footprint, namely the impact our lifestyle and activities have on the environment and global natural resources.
- They help reducing plastic waste; steering clear of single-use packaging and looking for environmentally friendly alternatives is one good place to start.
- They keep our carbon footprint to a minimum, i.e. the amount of CO2 emissions released in the atmosphere as a result of our lifestyle choices and activities. It is estimated that 28% percent of the average American’s CO2 emissions stem from transportation, while 28% and 17% come from shopping and home energy use, respectively.
- They can be recycled/ re-used (e.g., stainless steel water bottles, reusable sandwich bags, upcycled handbags, etc.)
- They are compostable (e.g., non-petroleum products, like paper, cardboard, natural fibers)
- They are not resource-intensive – For their production, the water, energy, and resource consumption was kept to a minimum (e.g., organic cotton’s carbon footprint is 46% lower than that of conventional cotton and it requires 62% less energy to produce)
- No harmful pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers were used in their production.
- They are made to last: A durable product means that it will be used many times (and possibly by multiple users) before it gives up the ghost and ends up in a landfill.
6 Eco-Friendly Products You Should Switch to Immediately
- Clothing Made of Recycled Fabrics
In 2012, 84% of outdated clothes were either dumped in a landfill or burned. The problem is that the waste produced by unwanted pieces of clothing is nearly incalculable. Just take into account the water waste when growing water-intensive crops like non-organic cotton, the extra water used to prepare the fabric, the toxic dyes and other hazardous chemicals in our T-shirts and blue jeans, the CO2 emissions related to the transport of imported clothing, and the air pollution resulted from the incineration of the said clothing at the end of its (very short) useful life. In other words, fast fashion has turned the fashion industry into the world’s second biggest polluter.
Several fashion brands have been trying to turn their business practices into more sustainable ones. One notable example is H&M, which launched a clothing recycling program 6 years ago. But even though the retail giant has collected over 20,000 tons of unwanted clothing ever since, its efforts are a drop in the ocean. In 2016, The Guardian did the math and found that 1,000 tons of clothing recycled by the Swedish fashion giant equals to the same amount of clothing sold in its stores worldwide over 48 hours.
So, a more sensible solution is for each of us to wear the clothes we currently own as much as we can or buy only from the brands that are genuinely interested in tackling waste. For instance, outdoors gear retailer Patagonia runs a clothing recycling program and encourages its customers to repair worn pieces of gear instead of buying new ones. Recover is committed to produce 100% recycled apparel. From just 8 plastic bottles, the North Carolina-based startup makes a brand-new T-shirt while supporting local jobs, community, and education. So far, it has prevented over 5 million plastic bottles from reaching the landfill.
- Stainless Steel Water Bottles
Replace plastic water bottles with a stainless steel one. A stainless-steel water container has numerous advantages over a plastic one. For one, it keeps water cool for hours if it is well insulated and has a large mouth opening for you to add ice cubes if needed. Also, it doesn’t develop a gross smell after a few uses. There’s no need for you to worry about BPA leaks into your liquids.
BPA contamination is a real issue with regular plastic bottles. BPA, aka bisphenol A, is a chemical that has been used in plastic bottle and sippy cup production for nearly half a century to harden the plastic. However, recent studies have linked BPA to a plethora of health risks including the risk of hormone disruption, impairment of fetal development, heart issues, diabetes, obesity, abnormal brain development in children, and possibly even cancer.
But the stainless-steel water bottle has landed on our list of the must-have eco-friendly products because it is highly reusable and helps minimize plastic waste as you will prevent countless plastic bottles from harming the environment. It is estimated that the beneficial effects on the climate start to show after your stainless-steel water bottle has managed to replace 50 regular water bottles.
- Recycled Toilet Paper
It is estimated that an adult uses over 20,000 sheets of toilet paper over one year, and that is a huge amount of cut trees and wasted water. Many people steer clear of recycled toilet paper because they believe that it is made out of used toilet paper. In reality, recycled toilet tissue is made of recycled paper collected through various recycling programs, which means that the paper hasn’t reached the landfill first either.
The only real concern with recycled toilet paper is its BPA content. The well-known hormone disruptor has been spotted in many products made from recycled paper, including containers, napkins, copy paper, and toilet paper. BPA usually ends up in recycled paper products if sales receipts and old newspapers are embedded in the final product. And that is sort of inevitable. However, the amount of BPA is so small that it poses no health risks if it touches your skin. It is estimated that you get more BPA into your system when touching a credit card receipt than when using eco-friendly toilet paper.
- Recycled Aluminum Foil
Resource waste does not only concern water and land. Other environmental resources are at risk, including aluminum. If recycled, aluminum cans could help Americans save over $700 million every year. Aluminum is one of the most recyclable materials on Earth as it can be recycled over and over again without losing its value.
It is estimated that a recycled aluminum product takes 90% less energy to manufacture than its brand-new counterpart. During the Second World War, aluminum had become so scarce that entire communities were encouraged to save it. In some locations in the U.S., you could even trade aluminum for a free entry to the movie house.
So, swapping your plastic cling wrap or single-use sandwich bags with recycled aluminum foil can benefit the environment long term. But speaking of plastic cling wraps…
- Beeswax Wrap
The humble plastic wrap we use in our kitchens can take a heavy toll on the environment in the long run, just like plastic bags. If you need to cover a container in the fridge or wrap food, the eco-friendliest solution is either using tinfoil or an eco-friendly material that is all the rage now: beeswax wrap. Its manufacturers have striven to make the wrap as eco-friendly as it can be and they have succeeded.
Beeswax wrap is made of 100% organic cotton or recycled paper, organic plant oils, tree resin, and eco-friendly beeswax. It is easy to use as you will only need to wrap up the item and let the warmth of your hands soften the wrap for a few seconds to make it stick. The beeswax wrap can be used many times, is low maintenance, has a nice smell (which unfortunately doesn’t last long), and is 100% compostable. It is an ideal eco-friendly product for the 21st Century with only one major caveat: its price. A pack of 3 assorted wraps currently retails for $18, but we are confident that as the technology goes mainstream, the prices will drop too. There is also a DIY solution.
6. Reusable Shopping Bags
Whenever you go to the grocery store or your local mall, take a reusable shopping bag with you. The environment will thank you for it. Plastic bag pollution is one of mankind’s ever ballooning problems. The U.S.A. uses over 100 billion plastic bags every year, with an average of 300 bags per person or 1,500 bags per household, and just 1% to 3% gets recycled.
Globally, 1 trillion plastic bags are used every year. It is harmful to the environment to produce a plastic bag and it is harmful to the environment to discard and not recycle a plastic bag. Some plastic bags can linger in the environment for hundreds of years.
What’s more, plastic bags literally kill about 100 marine animals every year, and despite that a plastic bag gets used for just 10-12 minutes on average before being thrown away. So, it is critical to limit our plastic bag use. Whenever, offered a plastic bag think about the environmental impact of such a common item, despite its convenience.
You can always replace your plastic bags with a reusable canvas tote bag. A reusable shopping bag made of organic materials will keep you eco guilt-free long time if you take care of it and don’t forget it at home. What’s more a reusable grocery bag is easy to clean, easy to troubleshoot, is completely recyclable and compostable, and can replace hundreds if not thousands of plastic bags over its life if used routinely.
Cotton totes have been recently criticized for being worse for the environment than plastic bags. However, critics didn’t take into account the long-term environmental impact of a plastic bag – a thick plastic shopping bag needs hundreds of years to biodegrade – nor factored in the tremendous marine pollution caused by plastic bags. Researchers only assessed the amount of resources a reusable cotton tote needs to be produced compared to a plastic bag. In the very long run, cotton and canvas totes are the undisputable winner.
Another big advantage of reusable shopping bags is their customizability. You can personalize such bags by embroidery or printing however you wish. You could also turn them into unforgettable gifts for people that have it all or practical promotional bags for your business. You can check our selection of cotton/canvas tote bags and organic cotton bags for more ideas. For a sturdier alternative but just as eco-friendly, try out our generous selection of burlap tote bags.
To Wrap It Up
You can’t go wrong with eco-friendly products. They are more durable, reusable, less toxic, less resource-intensive, and safer for the environment, wildlife, and people. Plus, you using eco-friendly products will not only help protect the planet and the health and well-being of your loved ones but also the future of your kids. It is a win-win situation.