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Which Eco-Friendly Products Make the Biggest Difference?

Updated on July 29, 2012
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As an environmentally-conscious shopper, you're eager to do your part in selecting eco-friendly products. You may be wondering though which products that you use have the biggest impact on the environment and society around us. So what is it that you can do to make a difference?

I have identified products which have the most negative affects on our surroundings and simple things you can do to lighten your personal carbon footprint.

The major products that we use on a regular basis that cause a lot of harm to the environment include all sorts of plastics that we use for activities like drinking, carrying, eating; as well as cleaning products we use around the house. Thankfully, there are lots of alternatives that are eco-friendly. Below are ideas on what you should be doing to decrease your negative impact on the environment.

Reduce your use of toxic cleaning products

Problem: Household chemicals are some of the most dangerous products for the environment. Products such as detergents, cleaning supplies, dish-washing liquid, pesticides, fertilizers, bug spray, and paint include toxins, bleach, chlorine, ammonia, petrochemicals and other harmful chemicals which contaminate soil and water. Many laundry detergents include phosphates which cause immense harm to our oceans by promoting the growth of algae, which depletes the supply of oxygen in oceans, in turn, creating harmful living conditions for sea creatures and decreasing the quality of water.

Solution: Switch from toxic to non-toxic, natural cleaning products! Now that you're aware of the harm household cleaning products cause, why not switch to a more eco-friendly alternative? let's take a look at the various actions you can take to minimize your use of toxic products and make a huge difference.

  1. Make your own natural cleaning products using items such as vinegar, lemon, olive oil, mayonnaise and baking soda - all which are effective and a lot less harmful for the environment.
  2. Buy eco-friendly cleaning products that don't contain harmful chemicals. The best products to buy are those that have EPA approval. Companies that make cleaning products that are less harmful for the environment include: Mrs. Meyers Clean Day, J.R. Watkins, Nature Clean, Simple Green, Shaklee, Ecover, Method, Ecos and Seventh Generation. Many of these have websites which help locating the closest store to buy their product and offer free delivery when purchasing a certain amount.

Did you know that non-toxic products can improve your family’s health by being less likely to cause asthma attacks? It's true! Make the switch to eco-friendly cleaning products.

Use a water filter and fill up your own water bottles

Stop buying plastic water bottles

Problem: Bottled water creates mountains of plastic garbage and causes major environmental problems, taking an unknown number of years to decompose and causing long and painful deaths to marine animals who mistake it for food. Not only that, it's a lot more expensive than tap water - and studies show that it's no safer than tap water. We've been brainwashed into buying water in plastic bottles and this is clearly a waste of money and creates lots of literal waste.

Solution: Fill your own water bottles at home using a stainless steel thermos which you can reuse for years to come saving you money and helping the environment. Don't like tap water or question its safety? Buy a carbon filter, which is inexpensive and will turn your tap into water you will enjoy and trust. So kick that bottled water habit!

What happens to your plastic bottles, glass bottles and aluminum cans when you're done with them? Recycle them so they don't end up like this!  I took this photo outside of Luanda, Angola.
What happens to your plastic bottles, glass bottles and aluminum cans when you're done with them? Recycle them so they don't end up like this! I took this photo outside of Luanda, Angola. | Source

Grim facts about plastic

  • Americans alone use 2,500,000 plastic bottles every hour
  • Plastic thrown into our oceans kill as many as a million sea creatures every year
  • Plastic does not decompose the way other products do. Nobody knows how long it will really take for a plastic bottle to biodegrade but some say thousands of years and some say plastic will stay in landfills forever!

Get yourself a cute reusable shopping bag you'll be eager to take with you shopping

Throw out trash using biodegradable bags

Paper or plastic? Neither! Choose cloth shopping bags for purchases and degradable bags for trash

Problem: Conventional shopping bags are petroleum-based and don't break down naturally like other things. If you use a regular plastic bag to throw out your trash, anything within it may not be able to fully degrade and will take up even more space in landfills.

Solution: When going shopping, bring along a trendy fabric bag (you can even make your own) that shows how fabulous you are. And for throwing out the trash, use degradable / biodegradable bags which break down unlike the conventional shopping bags at your local supermarket. Choose degradable to reduce your waste and decrease your negative impact on the environment. Another option is to use an organic mesh bag for organic produce.

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How to be more environmentally friendly when shopping

It's quite easy to make more environmentally friendly choices when shopping at the supermarket. Below are 3 easy things you can do!

  1. Observe product packaging: Buy products that use the least amount of plastic or those that use recycled or recyclable packaging. Recyclable packaging examples are glass, tin and paper - chose those over plastic!
  2. Check the packaging for logos and certifications: When products are eco-friendly or produced in an ethical manner, there will be a logo or certification on the packaging saying so.
  3. Buy local products: By buying local products such as produce, you are choosing products with a smaller carbon footprint as well as supporting the local community and economy!
  4. Bring your own shopping bag: Bring a cloth shopping bag with you when you're going shopping rather than getting a plastic shopping bag post purchase, which will then take an unknown number of years to decompose

Comments about green products that make the biggest difference

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    • lobobrandon profile image

      Brandon Lobo 5 years ago

      A great hub and I totally agree with the point where both Paper and plastic need to be replaced with Cloth or a polymer.

    • Global-Chica profile image
      Author

      Anna 5 years ago from New York, NY

      Thanks, lobobrandon! Yes, we cannot continue using regular shopping bags but need to all use "green" alternatives, such as cloth or polymer (degradable/biodegradable plastic), as you mentioned.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      I'm so glad you wrote this! I was really wondering which product choices would make the biggest impact. I feel pretty good about my performance on these fronts- but only discovered what a big difference cleaning products made recently. Heck, I only bought vinegar for the first time a couple of months ago! It's amazing how effective natural cleaners are... I wonder why we bother to work with such harmful chemicals on a regular basis at all!

    • Global-Chica profile image
      Author

      Anna 5 years ago from New York, NY

      Thanks so much, Simone! Glad to hear that you recently found out how effective natural cleaners are. I guess it's just a matter of people finding this simple fact out and hopefully switch from harmful chemicals.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Anna, the least that we can do to protect the environment is to follow certain practices like the one you have outlined in this useful hub. With a consequent rise in industry and population we need to be more aware and strive harder to conserve our natural resources so that they last longer while at he same time helping the environment to sustain itself in a more natural state.

      Voted up, useful and interesting.

    • Global-Chica profile image
      Author

      Anna 4 years ago from New York, NY

      Thank you, Rajan. I too sincerely hope that everyone follows at least some of these suggestions.

    • mariacolomy profile image

      Maria Colomy 4 years ago from Nashville, TN

      Simple Green is one of the most harmful cleaners known...

      "This product is anything but green. It contains 2-butoxyethanol, a solvent that soaks through the skin and damages red blood cells; even more dangerous is that some people miss the fine print and don't dilute it."

      Source: Rodale http://tinyurl.com/89bfb9v

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