Products that are not as green as they seem

As society evolves so does awareness of our ethical responsibility regarding the planet, the animals that live on it and each other. As this awareness has increased, more and more people are growing increasingly concerned about how their daily habits affect the environment. Unfortunately, many products contribute to a variety of factors that have a detrimental impact on the environment such as pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.


One common household product that many people don’t consider is wall paint or dining room wall decor. Used regularly across homes in the UK, many paints contain unsustainable products that harm the environment. These substances are known as volatile organic compounds or VOCs and during the process of paint application, these compounds are released into the atmosphere. Also when the paint gets heated by radiators or direct sunlight a process called off-gassing can take place where even more VOCs are released into the air. VOCs are key participants in the formation of the bad ozone layer. The problem is VOCs are found in more products than just paint. You can find them in cleaning products, fuels, personal care products, and more.

Fortunately, there is a way to avoid this issue. More and more low VOC, eco-friendly paint brands are emerging providing consumers with the opportunity to make an ethical decision to make a small but significant change. One low VOC paint brand that we recommend is Victory Colours because of their high quality paint that is also low odour and animal cruelty free.


One product that is not always the first thing that comes to mind when discussing products that are bad for the environment, however the fashion industry accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions. Unknown to many blissfully unaware shoppers is the harsh reality that clothing production, manufacturing, transportation and waste contribute to worsening greenhouse gasses. Here are some eye opening statistics to make you rethink before wearing an item only once before throwing it out:

  • 70 millions trees are cut down each year to make out clothes
  • 400% of carbon emissions are produced if we wear a garment less than 5 times instead of 50 times
  • 23 KG of greenhouse gases are released per kilo of fabric produced
  • Buying one shirt produced the same amount of emissions as driving 35 miles in a car
  • The carbon footprint of new clothes bought each month in the UK is higher than flying a plane around the world 900 times

There are a number of reasons why the fashion industry is bad for the environment. The materials used can often be unrecyclable, the production of clothes leads to 20% of the globe’s wastewater and the packaging and transport of products account for a large amount of greenhouse gas emissions.


It’s common knowledge that our diet as humans has a detrimental impact on the environment. The problem is, many of us underestimate what this effect actually is. To put it into perspective, agriculture contributes to almost 30% of greenhouse gases worldwide. You probably didn’t know how bad food is for the environment, and there’s a number of elements from the food industry that cause damaging effects.

A concerning reason why food is so bad for the environment is that food production requires 52.8 million gallons of water per second in order to sustain the planet’s population. On an annual basis, 3.8tn cubic meters of water is used by humans and 70% of that is consumed by the global agriculture sector. This is detrimental to the environment as it impacts air quality and greenhouse gasses.

Another reason why food is bad for the environment is the production process. In many cases, regardless of whether you eat meat or not, even our natural food products such as fruit and vegetables are grown assisted by the use of pesticides and fertilizers. The production of meat is enormous in relation to climate change, notably the impact of meat is roughly the equivalent to that caused by driving and flying every automobile and plane in the world. Some of the issues associated with meat production and consumption is that many forests are destroyed to produce industrial meat and billions of tonnes of CO2 is released into the atmosphere as a result. All of these impacts of food production lead to the acceleration of global warming.

Significantly what many people don’t realise is that ⅓ of food doesn’t even get consumed. That one third of food then ends up in landfills and decomposes, which may leave you wondering ‘how does food waste harm the environment’ well not only is it a waste of resources, as it decomposes it releases methane into the atmosphere and methane is a known greenhouse gas that can contribute to global warming.

Other products that are not green

Although we have listed just 3 common household products that are bad for the environment, there are plenty of others too. Here is a list of another 10 items that negatively impact the environment:

  • Wet Wipes- These do not break down the same as toilet paper and contain plastics which can never be dissolved.
  • Bleach- Manufacturers of chloride bleach often release the bleach chemicals into water bodies where it can react with other minerals that can create dangerous toxins that linger for decades.
  • Mattresses- Millions of mattresses are thrown away each year contributing to a large proportion of the waste in landfills. What’s worse is that mattresses are made using hazardous flame resistant materials that can end up in water supplies.
  • Tea bags- The plastic used to make the 6 billion tea bags consumed each year in the UK leads to a build up of 150 tons of polypropylene when accumulated.
  • Toothpaste- The main culprit that causes toothpaste to negatively affect the environment is the microbeads it contains. These microbeads can end up in rivers and seas where they look like fish eggs and get eaten by sea creatures.
  • Olive Oil- This product, according to the EPA causes similar effects on the environment as petroleum oils. These effects can be devastating, coating both animals and plants in oil and suffocating them.

Overview of products that are not as green as they seem

So, there you have it. A long list of products that are often overlooked when people think of causes of greenhouse emissions. The gases that primarily contribute to global warming include water vapor, nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide, methane and chlorofluorocarbons. These gases have mostly been products as a result of human activity. The human activities that most cause these gases include agriculture, industrialisation and deforestation. Ultimately, although we can all work hard as individuals to reduce our effects on the environment, it needs to be a widespread operation followed across the globe.

Elise Wu

Elise Wu, an alumna of Yale University with a degree in Environmental Policy, has spent more than two decades advocating for environmental protection and sustainable resource management. Before joining our website in 2019, she worked with various NGOs and governmental bodies, playing a key role in developing eco-friendly policies. Besides her professional pursuits, Elise is also a passionate hiker and loves nature photographer, often exploring the untamed wilderness to reconnect with the environment she tirelessly works to preserve.

Leave a Comment