5 Everyday Products You Didn’t Know Hurt the Environment

5 everyday products you didn’t know hurt the environment

Small things that people do every day that might leave a huge environmental footprint – when you create habits over a long period of time.

Being an environmentalist is not only about choosing bike over car. Or limit the number of flights you take annually. It is just as important to do the even smaller things in life – like turning off the light when you leave the kitchen, or bring your own reusable bags when leave for the supermarket, or recycle your plastic bottle.

These things matter as well.

5 Everyday Products You Didn’t Know Hurt the Environment

Table of Contents

So which small things can you do every day to reduce your carbon footprint?

Let’s start with the list – and then you can read more about every bullet point if you scroll down.

  1. Turn off your computer when you dont use it.
  2. Try to limit the amount of meat (especially beef) you consume.
  3. Buy products in the grocery store with less packaging.
  4. Try to avoid using forks and knives made of plastic.
  5. Only buy coral-safe sunscreen.

Leaving your computer monitor turned on

One of the great myths in life is that “you can just leave your monitor on, as it takes more energy to turn it on and off rather than just leaving it on”. According to Energy.gov, it will always make more sense to turn off your monitor if you are not going to use it for 20 minutes or more.

Having a good steak for dinner

Luckily, more and more focus and governmental pressure have been put on the commercial agriculture over the last years. A wide range of newspaper articles and documentaries have been created in order to educate people about the environmental impact of the meat industry. According to an article published in TIME Magazine, the livestock production have a bigger impact on the planet than anything else.

Buying canned or plastic-wrapped vegetables

Get rid of all that packaging!

Vegetables are made in the nature and can easily be eaten just as they are. All the packaging is unnecessary. And when we know that 35 % of everything that piles up throughout landfills in US is packaging, it is clear that it’s something we need to stop.

Be a smart consumer. Do not buy vegetables from cans or plastic.

Using disposable plastic forks or chopsticks

We get it. You order takeaway and get some disposable cutlery included. However, these chopsticks will have a negative environmental impact – regardless of whether they are made from wood or plastic. Plastic is a very harmful material that will not biodegrade in any form. And a lot of the disposable plastic items are actually ending up in nature.

And what’s up with the wood?

Despite being a (much) more sustainable alternative, millions of trees are annually cut down across the globe to be produced into cutlery.

Huffington post wrote an article about that the forests in China are struggling due to the huge demand of wooden chopsticks.


A lot of the sunscreen will end up in the ocean. The sunscreen residue bleaches corals – and it is actually a huge, global problem. This completely new niche within the sunscreen industry has grown now that many sunscreen brands are promoting themselves as “guaranteed coral safe”.

Guide: how to make your life more environmentally friendly

You might have been surprised by some of the information in this article. It will probably make you feel a bit bad next time you eat some beef or use wooden chopsticks. But the most important thing is: what have you learned from this?

Personally, I have gone through a clear transformation over the last years where my lifestyle has become much more ecofriendly than what it was.

After I started to buy some books about the environment, I started to slowly realize what caused the big environmental issues in the world. And more importantly, I understood that the everyday choices I took would have an impact. That is why I very often ask four questions to people that ask me how they can live “greener”:

1) What do you eat?
2) What is your shopping habits?
3) How does your house or apartment look like from an environmental perspective?
4) How do you usually travel or commute when going on holiday and back and forth to school/work?

It might sound easy, but 90 % of your environmental footprint can be discovered by answering these four questions.


The “vegan movement” has received an awful lot of attention over the years. I personally know a lot of vegans and they often highlight two things to why they are vegan:

1) They do not like to see animals being killed and
2) it is not good for the environment to eat meat.

If you knew how much the commercial livestock industry polluted, you would be quite shocked. This article gives you insight on how harmful meat (especially beef) is for the environment.

However, meat is not the only food product that is bad for the environment. Imported products will often leave a big environmental footprint due to the process of moving them from one country to another. People often tend to ignore the fact that most of the exotic food they eat is coming from the other side of the globe. Eat local & eat a lot of vegetables.


Fast fashion is one of the most polluting industries. 50 years ago people really invested in a shirt, sweater or jacket. It was something that you would spend weeks to consider buying – simply because it was more expensive back then.

We did not have this gigantic industry that sacrifices the environment in order to make low quality clothing. Now you probably buy 4 or 5 t-shirts in a weekend without really thinking about the environmental impact that will have.

You should read this article in order to understand more about this industry + tips on where you can find cheap eco-friendly products while shopping online.

Quick fixes for your house/apartment

I wrote an article about some things that you can do in order to make your home more ecofriendly. A very small investment can both save you money and save the environment. Does that sounds great?

Good. Read the article and you will hopefully be inspired.


The aviation industry counts for about 3 % of the total greenhouse gas emissions. When going on holiday, you should always check if you can travel by bus or train.

Another hot tip is to get rid of your car, or at least drive less. If you live in a city, biking to work is both good for your own health and the environment. Another quick win-win situation.

How much CO2 do you release into the atmosphere every day?

As you might already have understood, living what is considered a “normal life” does hurt the environment. In fact, you really need to make certain choices to make sure that you live a lifestyle that can be described as eco-friendly. But how much greenhouse gas emissions do we usually contribute with every day?

There are several studies that have looked into CO2 contributions across different countries. And here are the facts:

– Overall, the average human releases 6.5 tons CO2 in the atmosphere every year.
– In Norway, the average is 11.5 tons CO2.
– In the USA, which is considered to be the “Home of Capitalism”, each citizen release 20 tons CO2. So about 3 times more than the average human being on the planet.

These numbers are calculated based on all the choices you make in your daily life. There are loads of good ways to reduce them. Previously, I have published an article about how you can live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. But we can also summarize some of the points in that article:

– When you travel, try to use the train instead of an airplane.
– Eat less beef.
– Buy fewer clothes. And when you buy clothes: buy something eco-friendly and high quality.
– If you have a garden or outdoor area close to your home, you can:
1) Plant a tree and/or
2) Begin your own home composting.

Bonus: products that did not quite make the list

I wanted to end this article with some other products that you might not know the environmental impact of.

1) Single-use razors.

Not only is it a much better alternative out there (non-single-use razors), but they are also quite expensive. More than 2 billion of them are thrown out in the US every year. Needless to say, there are better, more comfortable and more environmentally friendly ways to get rid of your hair than a single-use razor.

Stop buying them. Thanks in advance.

2) Cosmetics.

So many things to write about this. Let me try to summarize how the cosmetic industry is destroying the environment: plastic packaging, “premium makeup” that is sent from Korea to the USA, use of palm oil, packaging that makes you unable to use all of the product before you throw it away, shifting product range to follow the trend will demand a lot of companies to throw out “outdated” makeup, etc.

I could go on forever.

PS! I have written an article about eco-friendly makeup brands. Click here to see all the brands that are vegan, cruelty-free and produce makeup without any chemicals.

3) Tea bag packaging

I just bought a huge box of Lipton tea in the shop. Do you know what I needed to do drink that tea?

– Open the plastic surrounding the cardboard box the tea was in. Packaging #1.
– Open the cardboard box. Packaging #2.
– Inside the cardboard box, there are a lot of paper-wrapped tea bags. I had to tear those open. Packaging #3.
– Once I have dipped the tea bag in the cup of warm water, I am throwing it out. Packaging #4.

Isn’t it possible to make tea drinking a bit more environmentally friendly? Really?

Learn whether you can compost tea bags here.

These are 7 organic and eco-friendly tea brands.

4) “Take away” food

If you have the chance to eat something in a restaurant rather than bringing it home: do it. The amount of packaging used to wrap food into is quite astonishing.

3 thoughts on “5 everyday products you didn’t know hurt the environment”

  1. Avatar
    Not rich, not poor

    Problem is that the things we do in order to live a better life are all connected with high greenhouse gas emissions:

    – Eating a steak in the local restaurant.
    – Travel to another country to explore new culture.
    – Buy new clothes.

    …this tells us that it is the rich people who need to change their habits in order to save the world. THe poorer you are, the more environmentally friendly are you actually living. Quite a bit of a concern, isnt it?

    1. Avatar

      Hi. You are absolutely right. Needless to say, the richer people get, the more do they tend to make choices in life that harm the environment. Not to point out one country, but look at US:

      1) Everyone wants to own the biggest, fattest, most polluting car (at least before Elon Musk made Tesla).
      2) Americans eat a lot of meat every day.
      3) Domestically, more people find it convenient to travel by airplane than train.

      …the list could go on.

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