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Top 10 Things We ALL Do That Are Bad for the Environment

VO: Rebecca Brayton

Script written by Christopher Lozano.

There are ways you’re hurting the environment and don’t know it – even if you’re super careful – because there are lots of surprising things that harm the planet. Whether you wash your face with microbeads, eat soy food products or throw out your ink cartridges and old batteries, there are everyday things we all do that are harming the environment. WatchMojo counts down ten daily habits you didn’t know are killing the planet.

Special thanks to our user Muppet_Face for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top%2010%20Things%20We%20ALL%20Do%20That%20Are%20Bad%20for%20the%20Environment


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Script written by Christopher Lozano.

Top 10 Things We ALL Do That Are Bad for the Environment

These are things we all do, every day, without knowing how much damage they do to the planet. Welcome to and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know Were Bad for the Environment.

For this list, we’re looking at the everyday things we do that are hurting our planet. These can be shopping habits, eating habits, or using toxic and harmful materials without even knowing it.

#10: Sending Biodegradables to Landfills

This is not so much bad for the environment as it is a missed opportunity. Many items we throw away are better suited to composting than a landfill. This includes fruit and vegetable peels, eggshells, coffee grounds, some tea bags, and even used napkins and paper towels. And it turns out that composting at home is much easier than most people think. A composting bin can be as simple as a container with a lid under your sink. Once you see how much composting reduces your trash volume, you’ll be amazed. And gardeners will love the high quality soil composting produces.

#9: Eating Soy

Though it may not have as massive an impact as meat, growing and consuming soy can also be environmentally unfriendly. Much of the soy in products like soy milk and soy tofu may be genetically modified – which is already a controversial issue itself. And it’s often imported from places that may have lax environmental regulations, meaning the pesticides and herbicides used are probably unregulated. These pesticides can be very harmful to the environment and to human health. Additionally, as with most cash crops, massive areas are often deforested to grow soybeans. As an alternative, try choosing soy that’s not GMO and other protein substitutes like chickpeas and lentils.

#8: Using Shampoo & Soaps with Sulfates

An inexpensive and effective foaming agent, sodium laureth sulphate, or SLES, is found in many cosmetic and hygiene products. These sulfates feel good on your skin and can make you feel extra clean. However, what feels good on your face doesn’t necessarily feel good to Mother Nature. Sulfates are non-biodegradable and thus can build up and stay in the environment for long periods of time. They may also be contaminated with traces of 1,4-dioxane. This substance is labeled by the EPA as a probable human carcinogen, so buyer beware.

#7: Washing Your Face with Microbeads

Used for removing dead skin cells, plastic exfoliating microbeads are terrible for the environment. These tiny plastic products are found in facial cleansers, toothpastes, and many other hygiene and cosmetic products. The beads provide some grit to cleansers, which helps the cleaning agents do their work. But microbeads are so small that they pass through sewage filters and end up in lakes, rivers and oceans. Once there, these plastic pieces pollute the waters and are consumed by fish and other aquatic animals. Humans may also ingest them accidentally. In fact, they’re so bad that the U.S. signed a bill to phase out the selling and distribution of products containing microbeads by 2018.

#6: Throwing Out Your Ink Cartridges & Batteries

Biodegradables aren’t the only things that don’t belong in landfills. Common household batteries contain small but significant amounts of mercury, acid, lead, nickel, lithium and/or cadmium. When a battery is thrown out instead of recycled, these chemicals will slowly disintegrate their casings and leak out into the environment, leading to contaminated soil, water, fish and birds. Likewise, ink cartridges contaminate the soil and can cause long-term problems. Not to mention the fact that making just one little ink cartridge uses 2½ ounces of oil. Fortunately, many places are making it easy to recycle batteries and ink cartridges.

#5: Overlooking Plastic Packaging

The materials we use to package our food have a huge impact on the environment. Think about what you ate today: most of it was most likely packaged in plastic. Water is bottled in plastic, meat is wrapped in plastic, candy comes in plastic, and we use plastic to bag our vegetables. What’s worse is the fact that this isn’t limited to food, but also includes many other goods we buy every day. A large portion of these wrappings and packages end up in landfills and out in the environment. Using recyclable bags for produce and to carry goods home is one way to start helping.

#4: Eating Conventionally-Farmed Meat

As many already know, the meat industry is tough on the ecosystem. Over 50 percent of the world’s human-caused greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to animals like sheep, buffalo, camels, pigs, poultry, and cattle being raised for food. And vast areas of forest are cleared to both allow for grazing and to grow crops to feed these animals. Overgrazing of cattle has led to major soil depletion and climate pollution. Until we can start growing our hot dogs in labs, if we want to have less of an impact on the environment, our best option is to simply eat less meat.

#3: Moisturizing with Palm Oil

According to the estimates of some sources, palm oil is actually in nearly half the things we buy, like many health and beauty products. Although the typical amount of oil yielded from palm sources is impressive, it cannot keep up with the massive growth in demand. This in turn has led to unsustainable production practices. Large areas are deforested in order to build palm oil plantations, and smoke from these deforestations causes serious health and environmental issues throughout Southeast Asia. It may be difficult to avoid this product, but we can look for brands labeled “sustainable.”

#2: Boiling the Kettle

Most of us love coffee and tea. But most of us don’t know that to boil a kettle of water actually requires a lot of power – some say enough power to light a whole house. So, when we aren’t paying attention to when our water comes to a boil or if we don’t measure the exact amount we need, we’re wasting a surprising amount of energy. Depending on where you live, this energy can be coming from things like coal or natural gas. Luckily, there are energy efficient kettles and kettles that measure how much water is needed for a cup of tea or coffee.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Buying Coffee That’s Not Shade-Grown
- Using Deodorants with Triclosan
- Wearing Sunscreen

#1: Buying Jeans

Jeans are the clothing choice of millions because they look good and are comfortable to wear. But do you know how many resources go into making them? According to Levi’s, more than 3700 liters of water are used over the lifecycle of a single pair of jeans. Some people estimate even more, with more than 6000 liters just for the cotton in one pair. And most Americans own up to seven pairs of jeans. If they didn’t last so long, we’d be putting an even greater strain on our already water starved environment. So, let your jeans wear out a bit, because buying a new pair can be very bad for the planet.

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