In this day and age, being environmentally friendly isn’t the easiest of tasks. It’s difficult to know what could be bad for the environment, especially if they’re products which are designed for your own well being. So, to send you in the right direction, here are 5 non Eco-friendly bathroom products you should avoid if you care about the environment. Just ensure to always check the ingredients of any cosmetic or cleaning products if you want to reduce your carbon footprint.
Anything with Microbeads
Although these tiny, spherical beads were great for scientific developments, since their invention in 1976, they have been terrible for the environment. The use of microbeads in shower gels, face scrubs and toothpastes causes havoc once in marine ecosystems. In fact, last month an environmental committee called for a worldwide ban on cosmetic microbeads, after being already banned in the Netherlands, Austria, Luxembourg, Belgium, Sweden and soon, the US and Canada.
According to the committee, a single shower can result in 100,000 plastic particles being washed down the drain. Collectively microbeads have a huge surface area which allows them to absorb large amounts of toxins. This can then be ingested by marine animals once these beads reach the wild, causing fatal damage to aquatic creatures.
The use of aerosol cans for cosmetic reasons hit a snag in the mid-1970s, when ozone depletion first became public. After this, aerosol products were gradually made without the chlorofluorocarbons which damaged the ozone layer.
Although remarkably better for the environment than they were, aerosols still contribute to global warming due to their hydrocarbons and compressed gases, such as nitrous oxide. For example, your hairspray, deodorant or even cleaning products, still emits volatile organic compounds that contribute to ground-level ozone volumes and induces smog. So although not monstrous levels of emissions, every time you spritz, you raise your carbon footprint.
Chemical-Based Drain Cleaners
Although Finding Nemo’s quote ‘all drains lead to the ocean’ is not entirely correct, what you put down your drain can have a strong impact, and chemicals used in homes can enter the environment through wastewater.
Most ingredients in chemical-based drain cleaners usually break down into harmless substances soon after disappearing down the drain. However, others do not, and can pose danger on the fish and other wildlife that live in the subsequent streams. In a 2002 US study of contaminants in streams, the U.S. Geological Survey discovered persistent detergent metabolites in 69% of the streams tested and 66% contained disinfectants.
Fragrances in certain cosmetics can often lead to irritation, due to the concoction of chemicals used to create the scent. Such synthetic fragrances are commonly added to perfumes, shampoos, soaps, creams, moisturisers, sun creams, and most cosmetics. According to a 2005 study, wastewater treatment plants don’t break these ingredients down, which allows them to slip into the rivers via sewage discharge.
Again this means they are harmful to the marine environment, especially if used in large quantities, as fragrance chemicals accumulate in the tissues of fish and other invertebrates. So if a product is labelled as synthetic free, opt for that.
Nowadays, silicones are important ingredients in deodorants, shampoos, make-up, and anti-aging skin creams as they allow a smooth application. They are predominantly made up of siloxanes such as Cyclomethicone and Cyclotetrasiloxane.
In 2005, Norwegian Institute for Air Research and the Swedish Environmental Research Institute reported that high levels of siloxanes were found in samples taken from several points of the Nordic countries. Visible levels were also sadly found within fish. Further studies have shown that siloxanes that we apply to our bodies can also be released into the air. Meaning the fish are no longer the sole concern, as the majority of siloxanes have been found to be present within the atmosphere.
Do you know any other bathroom products which could cause damage to the environment? Let us know in the comments!