Green America: Growing the Green Economy for People and the Planet

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Economic action to promote just and sustainable purchasing


5 More Things You Should Never Buy Again

Salmon Farm1. Farm raised salmon. Several studies, including one performed by researchers at Indiana University, have found that PCB's and other environmental toxins are present at higher levels in farm raised salmon than wild salmon.

Pregnant women, women of child-bearing ages, and children should be very careful when choosing fish due to high levels of environmental toxins including mercury found in many fish. Check out our Safe Seafood Tip Sheet to see what the environmental and health risks posed by different fish.

Fabric2. Rayon. Developed and manufactured by DuPont as the world's first synthetic fiber, it is made by from liquefied wood pulp. Unfortunately, turning wood into rayon is wasteful and dirty, because lots of water and chemicals are needed to extract usable fibers from trees. Only about a third of the pulp obtained from a tree will end up in finished rayon thread. The resulting fabrics usually require dry cleaning, which is an environmental concern as well as an added expense and inconvenience.

Much of the our rayon sold comes from developing countries, such as Indonesia, where environmental and labor laws are weak and poorly enforced. There is mounting evidence that rayon clothing manufacturing contributes to significant forest destruction and pollution in other countries. Learn more about WoodWise clothes »

Women applying makeup3. Beauty/Body Care with Phthalates and Parabens. Phthalates are a group of industrial chemicals linked to birth defects that are used in many cosmetic products, from nail polish to deodorant. Parabens are preservatives used in many cosmetics that have been linked to breast cancer though more research is needed. Phthalates are not listed on product labels and can only be detected in laboratory tests. To be safe, choose products from companies that have signed on to the Compact for Safe Cosmetics. Learn more in our Real Green article, "The Ugly Side of Cosmetics" »

4. Plastic Wrap.   In the past, most household plastic wraps were made with #3 PVC (polyvinyl chloride), which may leach toxins when heated or microwaved.  Due to health and consumer concerns, most brands have now removed PVCs from household plastic wraps.  However, commercial plastic wraps, including those used at grocery stores, commonly contain PVCs.  Read more about problems with plastics »

5. High VOC Paints and Finishes. Volatile organic compounds or VOCs can cause health problems from dizziness to lung and kidney damage and are infamous for polluting both indoor and outdoor air. VOCs are found in products including paints as well as finishes used for wood, such a stains or varnishes. There are now a wide array of low or no-VOC paints on the market. Look for paints certified by Green Seal ( Or, look for natural paints made by green businesses listed in our National Green Pages.
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