Did you know that you’re probably using toxic products in your everyday routine? Some of the most common household cleaners and beauty products contain dangerous chemicals that may cause serious damage to your health, animals, and the environment.

As you write your shopping list, think about whether what you’re buying has toxic ingredients, and the effect of the packaging on the environment. Here are 6 examples of toxic products to remove from your life and replace with safer alternatives.

1. Plastic Bottles

Americans use an astonishing 29 billion plastic bottles every year, many of which end up polluting the ocean and threatening wildlife — not to mention that it takes 17 billion barrels of crude oil just to produce these bottles, contributing to the climate change crisis. Plastics also contain harmful chemicals. BPA is well known, but even BPA-free bottles contain chemicals that may be toxic to your health. The best solution? Get a non-plastic reusable water bottle and fill it up at the tap (or with filtered tap water).

2. Air Freshener

Air fresheners may help cover up gnarly bathroom odors, but at a cost to your health. Most commercial air fresheners contain chemicals called phthalates, which are known to affect your hormones and are also linked to birth defects. A study from the National Resources Defense Council found that 12 out of 14 air freshers tested contained phthalates — and some of these were labelled “all natural.” So instead of risking your health and the planet, try some DIY recipes to freshen up your home. Boiling cinnamon or making your own toxic-free deodorizers by combining lime juice, water and baking soda and much safer alternatives.

3. Microbeads

The tiny microbeads squeezed out of a tube of your favorite exfoliator may feel good against your face as you work away the grime and grit from your day. But did you know that microbeads seriously disrupt the environment? About 300 million tons of these plastic beads end up polluting waterways every year, and marine species eat them because they are unable to distinguish microbeads from their sources of similar size. This doesn’t mean that you need to stop washing your face, but there are better solutions to getting clean, such as sugar mixed with coconut oil or avocado. Microbeads are also in some toothpastes, and can get stuck in your gums. The federal government has banned microbeads, but the ban won’t go into effect until 2017. Until then, read those labels!

4. Triclosan

Triclosan is an ingredient found in hand sanitizers, antimicrobial soaps, and some deodorants. The ingredient is prevalently used to prevent bacterial contamination, but researchers have found that this chemical can have an impact on your immune system, and has been shown to cause both animals and humans to lose muscle mass (scary!). In fact, the state of Minnesota banned hand sanitizers and other hand and body cleansers that contain triclosan. So do your research, and banish triclosan-containing products from your bathroom (and everywhere else).


5. Chemical Window Cleaner

In order to get that cleaning product to supermarket shelves and into your hands, many companies first test their products. Unfortunately, some of the trial and error of bringing a product like chemical window cleaners to market still requires animal testing. Also, breathing in large amounts of these window cleaners can cause serious damage to your central nervous system. Luckily there are some safe and just-as-good alternatives to getting your windows streak-free and your countertops sparkling again. Teabags are multi-functional and can serve as a great substitute for the chemical-filled blue fluid.

6. Styrofoam

Styrofoam is made from styrene, which has been categorized as a human carcinogen that causes irritation to the skin, eyes, and upper respiratory tract. Prolonged and continuous exposure to this toxic product may also cause depression and headaches. Aside from the damaging effects to humans, it is also toxic to the environment. It is a material that doesn’t break down and seems to last forever. So the next time you go for your morning java, consider making your own at home, bringing a travel mug, or switching to a vendor that offers their product in a recyclable container.

Whenever you make a purchase, think about the impact of the item and its packaging. Make sure what you are buying is not toxic and doesn’t have the potential to hurt you, any animals, or the environment – and if it does, seek alternatives. Vinegar is one of many safe options to use in place of the numerous toxic products on the market today to keep your home fresh and clean. Check out this article about the many household uses of this one simple ingredient.