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Facts about the Impact of Household Waste on the EnvironmentShare

Facts about the Impact of Household Waste on the Environment

Fast Facts on Household Waste

  • Many traditional household cleaning products are environmentally-harmful or toxic to humans.
  • 3,460,000 tons of tissues and paper towels wound up in landfills in 2008.

The Problem

  • Plastic bags used for dry cleaned clothes are an often-overlooked source of plastic bags, but an estimated 300,000,000 pounds of these single-use bags are disposed of in landfills each year.
  • Plastic cutlery is non-biodegradable, can leach toxic chemicals, and is ubiquitous all over the world. Worldcentric.org estimates 40 billion plastic utensils are used every year in just the United States. The vast majority of these are thrown out after just one use.
  • Tissues and paper towels contributed 3,460,000 tons to U.S. landfills. (EPA, 2008)
  • Common household cleaners (including toilet bowl cleaners, air deoderizers, floor cleaners, window cleaners, and some detergents) often contain very toxic chemicals. Even when used properly these toxins make their way into the environment at large through evaporation of volatile components. (EPA)
  • The volatile compounds in cleaning products contribute to smog.
  • Some surfactants found in detergents are known to biodegrade slowly into even more harmful chemicals over time.
  • Bleach can be very dangerous when used carelessly; in fact, when mixed with some other very common cleaners, it can release a highly-toxic gas.


The Impact

  • The pulp and paper industry is the fourth largest emitter of greenhouse gases among manufacturing industries. This industry contributes 9% of total manufacturing carbon dioxide emissions. Most of this comes from the energy production needed to power these mills. (Environmental Paper Network)
  • Paper and paperboard products (a blanket term for all paper refuse, including paper towels and tissues) made up 20.7 % of the municipal waste discarded in 2008--more than any other type of refuse measured by 6,550,000 tons.
  • Household cleaning substances were responsible for 8.6% of the calls recieved by the National Poison Data System in 2009.
  • One in every ten poison exposures in children under five are due to household cleaning substances.
  • One in three household cleaning products contains ingredients that are known to cause human health or environmental problems. (Government Product News)
  • Some brands of room deoderizers contain formaldehyde. This chemical, commonly used in embalming, is a respiratory irritant and suspected carcinogen.
  • Diethylene glycol, found in some window cleaners, is a nervous system depressant.
  • Perchloroethylen (found in some spot removers) and butyl cellosolve (found in common window cleaners) can cause liver and kidney damage.


The Solution

  • The solution is to embrace a cultural shift away from use-and-toss mentality.
  • Eco-friendly cleaning products are often very competitively priced when compared to their toxic counterparts.
  • Green cleaning products can be just as strong as traditional cleaning products.
  • Additionally, they have little or no odor; tend to lack or use far less of the powerful synthetic fragrances common to traditional cleaning products.
  • Most importantly, green cleaning products will not expose you or your household to volatile organic compounds or carcinogens.
  • Not only are there eco-friendly non-toxic cleaning products available, you can also make your own at home. This can be much cheaper and even more gratifying.
  • If each person switched from disposable tissues and paper towels to napkins and handkerchiefs, it would cut down on 3.5 million tons of refuse placed in landfills each and every year.
  • Use high-quality reusable bags on shopping trips; Each reusable bag can eliminate hundreds (if not thousands) of plastic bags.
  • If every person switched from disposable dry cleaning bags to bringing their own reusable ones, we would cut down on plastic bag refuse in our landfills by 300,000,000 pounds. See our reusable version of the classic dry cleaning bag, and remember: The little things add up!
  • Take a look at our selection of high-quality reusable household items at the reuseit.com™ store and start making a difference today!

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