6 Products You Should Consider Abandoning

Every day, Americans spend hundreds of millions of dollars on goods, groceries, clothes and food, often with little thought to the environmental and social costs to our consumerism. Convenience and low-costs may be appealing as customers, but the price of buying disposable products is often higher than we think.

Here’s a look six costly everyday products that you should consider abandoning.


The single-serve coffee pods for Keurig machines are so popular that if you lined up every one sold in 2014 alone, they’d circle the earth more than a dozen times. The problem is that because of the plastic used to make them, they’re resistant to recycling methods, and a fully recyclable version is still years away. Even the inventor of the K-Cup told The Atlantic he thinks the product is a bad idea: “I feel bad sometimes that I ever did it … I don’t have one. They’re kind of expensive to use. Plus it’s not like drip coffee is tough to make.”

Bottled Water

Bottled water isn’t just wasteful. It doesn’t really make sense. With the availability of filters for tap water (which is already held to high health standards; from the Mayo Clinic: “Tap water and bottled water are generally comparable in terms of safety”), purchasing individual, disposable bottles can be bad for your wallet and the environment. Every year, at least 17 million barrels of oil are used to produce the bottles—enough to keep gas in a million cars for an entire year. That doesn’t account for the amount of gasoline used to transport it. And, according to one study, 80 percent of the bottles never even get recycled. That means most of those clear plastic bottles end up in landfills, or worse, in the ocean.


Those tiny beads now found in many liquid soaps may be good at “exfoliating” your skin, but their environmental toll is so high, several areas have banned products that contain them. The problem is, the beads are so small that they get past water treatment filters and end up in bodies of water. That means animals—and people—who use those lakes and rivers for drinking water sources run the risk of ingesting them.

Cheap Clothes

Everyone likes low prices. But when it comes to fast fashion, there’s a big cost to cheap clothes. Many garment industry employees in countries like Bangladesh—where a 2013 factory collapse killed 117 workers—have often worked in unsafe conditions for unfair wages. Some of the makers of cheap clothes that are found in many American stores, also have terrible environmental records, especially in countries where loose regulations are easily abused. Though some improvements are being made, avoiding cheap, disposable clothes in favor of brands that have made a commitment to ethical working conditions and sustainable practices in their supply chains can help eliminate the trend of disposable “fast fashion.”

See Also

Non-Ethically Sourced Chocolate

Because supply chains are often so complex, even large, well-known brands may be using cocoa that was obtained through the use of unethical labor practices. Child labor, unfair wages and dangerous working conditions are common in the West African chocolate industry, where 70 percent of all cocoa is grown. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to make a difference. As we highlighted in a piece last fall, “Groups like Stop the Traffik and Food Is Power are working to educate consumers through fact sheets and even downloadable apps about how to purchase chocolate that was not produce by child or slave labor.”

Plastic Grocery Bags

From the Worldwatch Institute: “Every year, Americans reportedly throw away 100 billion plastic grocery bags, which can clog drains, crowd landfills and leave an unsightly blot on the landscape.” Those thin plastic bags you use to carry your groceries are made from petroleum-based materials that drain resources and wreak havoc on wildlife—especially when they end up in the ocean. Durable, reusable fabric bags aren’t just more convenient (each one can carry a bunch of groceries), they are also more cost effective: Many groceries stores now offer discounts to customers who use them.

View Comments (7)
  • I thought someone recently stated on the Relevant podcast that they liked plastic bags because they re-use them (sometimes even as a suitcase, I recall). And all the cloth bags that are piled up next to the front door are never used. I’m guessing it was probably one of the other trogladytes.

  • 1 (one) thing i do not need a Christian magazine telling me: how to live. I have just been told that my bottled water, soap, crummy clothes, chocolate and plastic bags that my crummy clothes came in are…well, unChristian. While i believe in taking care of the earth God gave us and not taking advantage of the poor wherever they live and whatever they do, I would like to ask Relevant Magazine this: what do you suggest i do on my minimum wage part time job salary? Obviously outsoursing all our jobs is a huge part of the problem, but my going insane trying to buy “ethical” products will only do that: drive me insane. I am too poor to buy expensive clothing. You are attacking the problem from the wrong end. A country that sends all its jobs overseas is the issue.

  • Perhaps. When my family members who work there lose their jobs, then what? Its simply not the simple process that people assume when you are poor.

  • I dont think people who have never lived on low wage jobs understand the enormous problem we have in this country. Suggesting to someone who works part time that we are apathetic because we buy cheaper items…..frankly, most of them laugh at you. They are tired, overworked and wondering how next months bills will be met and their kids will be fed. They are not worried over checking to see if their coffee or chicken is ethical. They have little money for the basics. Its tough out there. Blessings

  • I don’t drink bottled water or use microbeads, I only buy fair trade chocolate, I shop at resale stores and carry my own reusable grocery bags, plus I used cloth diapers and my engagement ring came from an estate sale because I don’t support abuses in the diamond industry, but I will not give up my K cups – which are fair trade coffee, btw. I only drink one cup of coffee a day and it would be a waste to make a pot of coffee for myself.

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