For years I have griped about all the throw-away items that companies have created and marketed as things we need. I was so amazed at how fast everyone bought these items. I’m talking about disposable dusters, mops (or mop heads), plastic air fresheners, and various things including the ubiquitous paper towel (I’m ducking now as you all throw your imaginary towels at me for even suggesting the paper towel is not a “need”).
This was before “environmentalism” and to be honest, that wasn’t the main thing in my mind – I just thought it was foolishly expensive! Although I also couldn’t stomach the thought of adding yet more things to our landfills.
Since I’ve started reading blogs on couponing, I’ve been flabbergasted as I’ve seen pictures of people buying not one, not two, but 10 Swiffers or Glade Air Fresheners, or mega packs of paper towels. It doesn’t matter if they’re free or “almost free” they’re still wasteful and give the wrong message to the companies that make them. It’s so EASY to use a rag and throw it in the wash with your other loads or open the window for fresh, always free, air.
So I was happy to read an article this morning on Yahoo by Lori Bongiorno (link no longer available) that may help in encouraging people to look at these “necessities” in a new light. Here are some highlights:
“Here are some things most of us don’t need to purchase:
1. Air fresheners are not only completely unnecessary, but they can also release hazardous chemicals into your home. The Natural Resources Defense Council found phthalates (hormone-disrupting chemicals that are linked to birth defects) in 12 of the 14 common household brands of air fresheners it tested, including those that were labeled “all-natural.” Open your windows and let the fresh (and free) air in. If your home has a persistent odor, your best bet is to find the source and fix it rather than simply masking it.
2. Bottled water isn’t proven to be any cleaner or safer than tap (in the United States). The New York Times estimates that it costs $1,400 a year for someone to drink eight glasses a day of bottled water, versus around 49 cents for an annual supply of tap. Drinking filtered water is a lot less expensive, just as healthy, and good for the environment.
3. Dryer sheets can do more harm than good since they are loaded with a mixture of synthetic chemicals that can cling to your clothes and be absorbed through your skin. Here’s a cheaper and healthier alternative to make your clothes soft and static free: Add 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar or 1/4 cup baking soda to your laundry, suggests Patti Wood, at Grassroots Environmental Education. Want your clothes and bedding to have a scent? Wood says to spray a small piece of cloth with an essential oil and toss it in your dryer.”
She lists a few more things, but you get the idea. My point is not to make anyone feel guilty or defensive, I just hope to get you to think more about how and why you buy things.
And then maybe not buy them anymore.
If you do want to buy something, try microfiber cloths. I love, love, love microfiber cloths. They work much better than dust cloths or paper towels and you can wash and use them over and over.