Walk into a drugstore, supermarket or big-box giant and you’ll find yourself inundated with options. Every aisle is brimming with choices and it seems that every few weeks there is some new product on display that is positioned to seduce you into spending more money.
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But it’s not just new (or improved) items begging to be purchased, it’s also a lot of the same old stuff — things we’re used to buying because we’ve been buying them all our adult lives. Have you ever stopped to reconsider which of these everyday purchases are totally wasteful? Amid soaring inflation rates, it’s important to pause and review.
GOBankingRates talked with Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst at DealNews.com, to learn which everyday items we buy are useless (or just plain bad), so that we can cut down on wasteful spending. Unsurprisingly, what’s bad for our wallets tends also to be bad for the planet, so this is as good a time as ever to eliminate these toxic buys.
“Yes, they can make your clothes smell great and cut down on static electricity, but the problem is that they’re also coated in chemicals, which can then build up on your clothes and even your dryer,” Ramhold said. “The build-up in the dryer can also lower the efficiency of your dryer because it can coat the lint filter and obstruct air flow, which means you’ll have to run the dryer more frequently, which will then cause your utility bills to climb.”
Ramhold explained that dryer sheets are also terrible for your towels, as they, along with liquid fabric softener can actually build up so much that your towels will be less absorbent.
“Rather than going for chemical-based laundry additives like this, consider using wool balls instead,” Ramhold said. “You can even add a few drops of essential oil to them in order to leave your clothes smelling fresh, without having to worry about weird chemical buildup.”
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“It’s super convenient and if you need a source of clean water, obviously giving up bottled water isn’t going to be a good option,” Ramhold said. “However, it’s far more economical in the long run to purchase a reusable water pitcher. Even if the filters are pricey, you’ll still save money over buying bottled water long term and you won’t have to worry about your plastic usage as much, which is especially troublesome if you can’t recycle.”
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“These have a convenience that is definitely hard to beat, but once again they result in an increase in waste,” Ramhold said. “It’s better to get a good reusable toilet brush and clean it after using; as for dusting, consider using a vacuum cleaner or microfiber cloth to do that.”
“Rather than buying roll after roll of paper towels and using them for everything, consider buying reusable paper towels instead,” Ramhold said. “You can find alternatives like Swedish dishcloths online for reasonable prices, and they’re typically reusable, biodegradable, and compostable. They’ll break down over time because of that, which means eventually you’ll have to purchase more. If you want to avoid that, you can also opt for microfiber cloths in bulk from stores like Costco and use those instead. These are also very absorbent and can be washed and reused for years, so you can cut out paper towel use entirely by using these kinds of items. Not only is it cheaper in the long run, but you won’t have to worry about creating more waste.”
“Yes, they’re useful for everything from makeup to cleaning your ears (even though you’re not supposed to do that) but there’s no need to buy the ones made with cotton,” Ramhold said. “Companies like LastObject have made it their mission to offer reusable items to cut down on plastic usage and waste, and one of their top sellers is a swab. One swab will reportedly save the planet from 1000 cotton swabs, and they come in the basic variety with textured ends for cleaning, the beauty version with tapered ends for cleaning up makeup, and a baby version with tips that are meant to be used to clean delicate areas on a baby’s face or even apply cream or ointment to a targeted area.”
“These are usually made with chemicals to help you remove makeup, but there are plenty of eco-friendly alternatives out there,” Ramhold said. “Items like the Makeup Eraser are soft and gentle and I can attest they remove even hardcore makeup like eyeliner with only water. Not only are they better for the planet but they’re also better for your skin as they aren’t made with any chemicals so there’s nothing to irritate your skin.”
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