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When Is Eco-Friendly Not That Eco-Friendly?

So, we decide to be more conscious about the environment. We read, we learn, we make choices. At the end, we modify our lives to sustain an eco-friendlier life. But what if what we think we’re doing and the money we’re investing at keeping our world alive is not actually as helpful as we might believe?

Here are some habits that we might think can make a change towards a greener life but actually have bigger consequences that we need to keep in mind the next time we buy ‘green products’ or engage with practices that are probably a waste of time and energy.

When You Use Recyclable or Biodegradable Packaging

Nothing lasts forever, even plastic, so the concept of biodegradable can be a bit unclear. However, most of the environmental impact of any product occurs before it arrives to the customer, so the fabrication process is more important that the usage of the material once we are finished with the product. Many ‘recyclable’ or ‘biodegradable’ materials have higher carbon footprints than it’s ‘less recyclable’ colleagues, and most of fast degradable materials are made with DDT, which might look safe at first but actually degrades to the compounds DDD and DDE, both more dangerous and toxic to the environment than the original.

When You Go Plastic Free

Reducing waste is a war that can’t be focused only on plastic. Avoiding single-use items has nothing to do with the material but with the carbon footprint of a process that concludes in a short-term usage and a really quick end of life. Alternatives of plastic can have a more damaging fabrication process than recycled or virgin plastic, and the increase of plant-based materials can also increase the pressure of deforestation. The plastic pollution impact is really important but getting involved in beach cleanings and litter pickings could be a more beneficial way to take care of that matter, same as carrying reusable bags and only banning unnecessary plastic products such as cotton buds and straws.

When You Use Air Fresheners or Purifiers

Yes, purifiers actually clean some of the air in your house, but is important to punctuate that all ‘ionic’ air purifiers emit some ozone, which has been proven damaging by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Even little amounts of ozone can damage the lungs when inhaled, as well as cause coughing, chest pain, throat irritation, shortness of breath or grow into more serious diseases such as asthma and other respiratory complications.

In the case of air fresheners, most of them are made with four damaging ingredients, formaldehyde, p- dichlorobenzene, petroleum distillates and aerosol propellants, but can contain any other 3,000 chemical mixes filled with toxins that are clearly not doing your air any good and are usually labeled just as ‘fragrance’: since companies are allowed to hide the real name of the chemical behind something called ‘trade secret’, is really hard to know what is it made of even while reading the labels.

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