Styrofoam is forever. It's not biodegradable.
Alternative: Buy recyclable and compostable paper cups.
Best option: Invest in some reusable mugs that you can take with you.
2. Farm raised salmon
Several studies have found that PCB's and other environmental toxins are present at higher levels in farm raised salmon than wild salmon. Check out Green America's Safe Seafood Tip Sheet.
3.Beauty/Body Care with Phthalates and Parabens
Phthalates are a group of industrial chemicals linked to birth defects that are used in many cosmetic products, from nail polish to deodorant. Parabens are preservatives that have been linked to breast cancer. Be safe, choose products from companies that have signed on to the Compact for Safe Cosmetics.
4. Plastic Wrap
In the past, most household plastic wraps were made with #3 PVC (polyvinyl chloride), which may leach toxins when heated or microwaved. Due to health concerns, most brands have now removed PVCs from household plastic wraps. However, commercial plastic wraps, including those used at grocery stores, commonly contain PVCs.
5. High VOC Paints and Finishes
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can cause health problems from dizziness to lung and kidney damage. VOCs are found in products including paints as well as finishes used for wood, such a stains or varnishes. There are now a wide array of low or no-VOC paints on the market.
6. Bleached Coffee Filters
Dioxins, chemicals formed during the chlorine bleaching process, contaminate groundwater and air and are linked to cancer in humans and animals.
Alternative: Look for unbleached paper filters.
Best option: Use reusable filters such as washable cloth filters.
7. Overpackaged foods and other products
Excess packaging wastes resources and costs you much more. Around thirty three percent of trash in the average American household comes from packaging.
Alternative: Buy products with minimal or reusable packaging.
Best option: Buy in bulk and use your own containers when shopping.
8. Teak and mahogany
Every year, 27 million acres of tropical rainforest (an area the size of Ohio) are destroyed. Rainforests cover 6% of Earth’s surface and are home to over half of the world’s wild plant, animal, and insect species.
Alternative: Look for Forest Stewardship Council certified wood.
Best option: Reuse wood, and buy furniture and other products made from used or salvaged wood.
9. Conventional household cleaners
Cleaners can contain hazardous ingredients such as organic solvents and petroleum-based chemicals that can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into your indoor environment, positing a particular danger for children.
Alternative: Look for nontoxic, vegetable-based, biodegradeable cleaners.
Best option: Try making your own green cleaner using vinegar, water, and castile soap.
10. Higher octane gas than you need
Only one car in ten manufactured since 1982 requires high-octane gasoline. High-octane gas releases more hazardous pollutants into the air, and may be bad for your car.
Alternative: Buy the lowest-octane gas your car requires as listed in your owner's manual.
Best option: Make your next car purchase a hybrid. Or ditch the car and take public transportation, ride a bike, or walk.
11. Toys made with PVC plastic
70% of PVC is used in construction, but it is also found in everyday plastics, including some children’s toys. Vinyl chloride, the chemical used to make PVC, is a known human carcinogen. Avoid plastics that are labeled as “PVC” or “#3.”
12. Plastic forks, spoons, and straws
Disposable plastic utensils are not biodegradable and not recyclable in most areas.
Alternative: Use compostable food service items made from plant materials such as corn starch and cellulose.
Best option: Carry your own utensils and food containers.
13. Paper towels
Paper towels waste forest resources, landfill space, and your money.
Alternative: When you do buy paper towels, look for recycled, non-bleached products. Search the National Green Pages™ for recycled paper products.
Best option: Buy dishtowels or rags to wash and reuse.
14. Chemical pesticides and herbicides
American households use 80 million pounds of pesticides each year. The EPA found at least one pesticide in almost every water and fish sample from streams and in more than one-half of shallow wells sampled in agricultural and urban areas. These chemicals pose threats to animals and people, especially children.
Alternatives: Buy organic pest controllers such as diatomaceous earth.
Best Option: Plant native plants and practice integrated pest management. Plant flowers and herbs that act as natural pesticides.
Developed and manufactured by DuPont as the world's first synthetic fiber, it is made by from liquefied wood pulp. Unfortunately, turning wood into rayon is wasteful and dirty, because lots of water and chemicals are needed to extract usable fibers from trees. Only about a third of the pulp obtained from a tree will end up in finished rayon thread. The resulting fabrics usually require dry cleaning, which is an environmental concern as well as an added expense and inconvenience.
Much of the our rayon sold comes from developing countries, such as Indonesia, where environmental and labor laws are weak and poorly enforced. There is mounting evidence that rayon clothing manufacturing contributes to significant forest destruction and pollution in other countries.