6 common household items you didn't know are crap for the environment.

I hate to say it, but life isn’t as simple as the good old days. 

We’re seeing confusing terms like biodegradable and compostable popping up in every industry, a plethora of recycling 'dos and don'ts' and greenwashing can be seen in every aisle. Living more responsibly is like learning a new language without a guidebook. It’s time to dig deeper into some of your daily essentials and discover a more planet-friendly solution. 

So without further ado, here are six products that you probably reach for every day, that Mother Nature would rather you did not.  

Watch: 7 eco-friendly habits that aren't so green... Post continues below.

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1. Baking paper

It’s a little known fact that even though greaseproof paper has the word paper in it, it cannot be recycled. The waxy non-stick coating means that recycling facilities struggle to recycle it.

Aluminium foil, on the other hand, can be recycled. Simply remove any food residue and roll it into a tennis ball-sized ball.


Swap to: Reusable Baking Mats.

2. Paper towels

Do you know how paper towels are so strong and absorbent? How they don’t break and disintegrate when wet? This is because there is a thin plastic weave that helps keep it together.

What this means is that most paper towels cannot be recycled or composted.

Swap to: Reusable Paper Towels.

3. Tea bags

Coffee bean farming has a huge impact on the planet so time to switch to a cuppa? You’re not alone; 25 billion tea bags are sold in Australia each year. 

Whilst tea leaves are compostable, unfortunately many of the tea bag brands on supermarket shelves are actually made from plastic. Similar to paper towels, this means that they cannot be composted. 

Look for brands that are compostable or opt for a loose leaf brew.

Swap to: Loose Leaf Tea.

4. Chewing gum

When we were kids, we were told not to swallow chewing gum because it will be stuck in your lungs for seven years.

Whilst the seven years part isn’t entirely accurate there was some fact to this myth. Up until the 1940s, chewing gum was made from a natural plant rubber. Scientists wanted to get fancy and add flavours, colours and sweeteners.


Nowadays some of the ingredients you’ll find in chewing gum are petroleum, glycerin, polyethylene and stearic acid which are plasticisers and polymers like latex and polyvinyl acetate. Which are all types of, you guessed it... plastic. According to Just One Ocean, each year over 100,000 tonnes of plastic waste is created from gum alone. That’s the equivalent of 374 trillion sticks of gum.

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5. Kitchen sponges

Those infamous yellow sponges with a green scourer are actually made from polyurethane foam. 

This foam takes hundreds of years to decompose and every time you rinse it underwater, tiny micro fragments of plastic will enter our waterways and oceans. These fragments, whilst small, have been found by researchers in our food, water and even faeces. The average Australian consumes FIVE grams of plastic each week. 

Swap to: Cellulose sponges. 

6. Makeup wipes

The average makeup wearer (out of lockdown) uses on average 900 makeup wipes a year. 

If there’s one thing you stop doing after reading this - it is flushing your make-up and baby wipes down the loo! Similar to paper towels, these are woven with plastic meaning that they will not break down and dissolve in water. 

Instead, they will clog our drains and waterways, and potentially your pipes. Make the switch to reusable wipes which are a more economic and environmentally friendly option.


Ditch single use make up wipes and make the switch to reusable wipes 💜 #singleuseplastic #gogreen #beautyhack #beauty #learnontiktok #makeuphacks

♬ original sound - Lottie Dalziel

Swap to: Reusable wipes.

Feature Image: Mamamia / Lottie Dalziel.

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