Green Consumerism

Published on August 25th, 2017 | by TerraCycle


The 5 Plastics That Nobody Should Be Using

Human beings manufacture nearly 300 billion pounds of new, virgin plastic every year, and it is estimated that up to 129 million tons (43 percent) of the plastic used is disposed of in landfills.

We are endangering the long-term well-being of the planet because of a desire for short-term wealth and material objects. As a consumer, the power to purchase is directly in your hands. Here are five plastic products everyone should be avoiding:

1. Microbead soap and Other Microbead products

Face wash, soap, toothpaste, and body scrub products have often made with tiny little plastic pellets called microbeads that get flushed down drains and end up in our waterways. President Barack Obama banned the distribution and sale of products containing microbeads in the U.S. back in 2015. The UK is currently following suit with ‘rinse-off’ personal care and cosmetic products.

2. Disposable dishes and dishware

While single-use plastic utensils and dishes make cleaning up a breeze, they are in fact some of the most wasteful products you can purchase.

It’s even been estimated that Americans use nearly 100 million plastic utensils each day, and considering these utensils are rarely recycled, most are destined for the landfill. Reusable dishes or cutlery made out of metal or ceramic are almost always the more eco-friendly option, as they can be reused for many years.

3. Products containing PVC

Polyvinyl chloride is a common type of plastic, identified by a #3 and the letters “PVC.” It can be found in many products like shower curtain liners, plumbing, and plastic school supplies like pencil cases. Vinyl chloride, used to make PVC, is listed as a known carcinogen by the World Health Organization and the EPA.

Chemicals called phthalates are also commonly used to make PVC less rigid, but can interfere with hormone function in humans, especially children. As of 2009 in the U.S., phthalates have been banned in children’s toys, but not in other high-exposure products like school supplies.

4. Styrofoam containers

Cities and towns around the world are banning Styrofoam food containers, and for good reason. When heated, they can leach chemicals into foods and drinks. Styrofoam, or expanded polystyrene, can leach a chemical called styrene into hot liquids like tea, or food heated in the microwave. High quantities of styrene can actually even act as a neurotoxin to humans.

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5. Bottled water

Most developed countries have free access to clean water, yet people spend $100 billion on bottled water every year. It would be one thing if the majority of this consumption came from nations with limited access to clean water, but that’s not entirely the case. The U.S., Germany, Italy, and France are all among the top per capita consumers of bottled water in the world. Even more water and energy is required to manufacture the plastic bottles themselves, which, of course, never truly break down.

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About the Author

Founded in 2001, TerraCycle, Inc., is the world’s leader in the collection and repurposing of hard-to-recycle post-consumer waste, ranging from used chip bags to coffee capsules to cigarette butts. Each year, across 20 countries, TerraCycle collects and repurposes billions of pieces of waste, donating millions of dollars to schools and charities in the process. To learn more about TerraCycle or get involved in our recycling programs, please visit

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