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Earth Day 2016: 5 surprising everyday items you use that are ruining the environment

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 22 April 2016, 17:52 IST

Love exfoliating? Do you shampoo twice/thrice a week? Never leave the house without that trusty lip balm? Live in your denims? Chilled colas are your mainstay? Congratulations, you're ruining the planet.

Everyday items you wouldn't normally think about are contributing to the slow but steady undoing of Mother Earth. With organic products becoming increasingly expensive, the easily available and mostly affordable over-the-counter commodities have gained popularity. But cheap, does not always ensure safety.

Here are the common place items you're likely to have at home, but which are unwitting aiding the destruction of the planet. Want to help? Stop using these:

1) Cosmetics with microbeads

If there are pools of plastic in the waterbodies across the world today, we have microbeads to thank for those. These tiny particles, present in almost every cosmetic brand's facewash or scrub and sometimes toothpaste, are causing massive havoc to our eco system. Made of polyethylene, these beads not only harm your skin, they add to the plastic waste in our sewages. Since all of our trash eventually reaches the ocean, these miniscule beads find their way into the fish, proving fatal more often than not. A lot of states in the US have banned products with microbeads, but India is yet to do so.

2) Lip balms

Actually, only lip balms with petroleum jelly are harmful. But a lip balm without petroleum is basically just cream so we're going to go with 'lip ballm'. That's right. You may have baby soft lips thanks to them but petrolatum aka petroleum jelly, contains policyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHS) which directly release toxins in the environment. The use of petroleum jelly in cosmetics has been banned by the European Union. 

3) Denims

It takes over 6,000 litres of water to grow the amount of cotton needed to make a single pair of jeans. No, we're not kidding. Google it. In fact your favourite pair of Levi's - as the company once admitted - takes about 3,000 litres of water to make a pair. How many pairs do you own?

4) Aerated drinks

Soft drinks are a crowd-favourite. And funnily enough, it is not only ruining your own body, it is also depleting our water resources. It takes 499 litres to make a 2-litre bottle of any soda drink. Even that refreshing pint of beer you just downed used up way too much water than this planet could afford. Of course, asking anyone to give up beer and face life sober is hardly humane, so we won't. The planet doesn't deserve your love anyway.

5) Cosmetics with sulphates

Using over-the-counter shampoos and soaps? Yes, they're afforable. Much more so than the organic products in the market. True. We'll give you that. But here's the catch. Every time you shampoo your hair, you leave behind a residue that will never dissolve or decompose or ever go away.. These products contain Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) which cause them to foam; but SLES contains 1,4-Dioxane (classified as a type of ether), which not only seeps into the skin, and enters your body when you inhale, it is fundamentally and irrevocably harmful to the environment as well. 


Edited by Aishwarya Yerra

First published: 22 April 2016, 17:52 IST