Think before Disposing: 4 Popular Household Items that Harm the Environment

While staying current on the latest news about environmental policy is an absolute must for any environmentally-conscious citizen, we must remember that as consumers, we should be aware of our own daily impact on the environment. Even if you recycle religiously, buy only organic produce and humanely-raised meat products, there still may be a few household items you use every day that harms the environment. Here are a few popular household products that you should avoid to reduce your carbon footprint.

Household Items that Harm the Environment

1. Single-Cup Coffee Makers
As an avid coffee drinker in a family of caffeine abstainers, I found single-cup coffee makers to be an incredible blessing. Gone for me were the days of brewing a pot that I could never quite finish before it went stale. Recently, however, I encountered various news articles alerting consumers about their environmental harm. The most popular of such coffee makers, the Keurig, uses cartridges that aren’t recyclable. Even though these makers are ideal for quick, convenient use in theory, it may be better to stick to your traditional coffee maker. One way to avoid wasting the entire pot is to place the remaining coffee in the fridge, so when you get home, you have an instant supply of refreshing iced coffee!

2. Rechargeable Batteries
Many of us who try to avoid waste at all costs will opt for rechargeable batteries instead of their disposable counterparts. Even though rechargeable batteries produce less waste, their chemical components are still toxic to the environment. The best way to approach batteries is to, yes, use rechargeables, but always dispose of them properly. A Discover News article outlines the problems with disposing batteries, and alternative programs that can recycle your batteries for you.

3. Medications
Of course, it’s not possible to avoid taking medications, but the unscrupulous disposal of pills has caused many rivers and lakes to contain substantial amounts of drugs that are harmful for the environment and our bodies. Not only that, but New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation found that improperly disposed drugs like antibiotics can help to produce antibiotic-resistant bacteria. For proper disposal of medications, find medicine take back programs in your area. For more information, visit the Federal Drug Administration’s website.

4. Hand Sanitizer
Even though you may be the averse-to-germs type, and even though hand sanitizer has been lauded as the cure-all for germs peppering public bathrooms, subway cars, etc., it’s actually not as effective as you think, and it’s also bad for the environment. A common ingredient in hand sanitizer is tricoslan, which is a known toxin that can damage the endocrine system. Like the improper disposal of medications, the overuse of hand sanitizer has helped foster resistant bacteria. Eighty-two environmental organizations late last year petitioned the EPA to completely ban hand sanitizer. If you are looking for an alternative to sanitizer, try using essential oils with germ-killing properties like thyme.

A good rule of thumb before using consumer products is to check online for their environmental impact. Before throwing anything away in the trash, see if there is a better way of disposing it. You’d be surprised by how the simplest and most popular of consumer products can wreak unknown environmental havoc.

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This guest post is contributed by Katheryn Rivas, who writes for online universities blog. She welcomes your comments at her email Id:

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