It’s time to upgrade your shopping list
Are you a creature of habit? So many of us are, especially when it comes to shopping. It’s easy to stay devoted to a brand you’ve supported for a lifetime—and perhaps even a brand your parents or grandparents used that reminds of your childhood or beloved relatives—because you know what to expect from your purchase. That may especially be the case if the item in question is from one of these 40 most trusted brands in America.
However, if you’re used to reaching for the same tube of toothpaste at the drugstore, the same rolls of toilet paper at the grocery store, and the same protein powder at the health-food store and never really give any of it much though, then it might be time for a change. Thousands of new products have emerged over the last decade, and they are chock-full of improvements for your health and our planet. Open your mind to new options and see all the good you might gain from tweaking your buying habits.
Colgate Total Whitening Toothpaste
Ever wonder exactly what you’re brushing your teeth with twice a day? Your trusted toothpaste brand likely contains, among other things, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). This skin-irritating ingredient, which is found in Colgate Total Whitening Toothpaste, is linked to canker sores and mouth ulcers, says Tonya Harris, who is board-certified in holistic nutrition and holds a certificate as an Environmental Toxicity Specialist.
While this Colgate formula does have a number of positive reviews on Amazon, the negative reviews are pretty scathing. “It leaves a burning taste in my mouth and it’s terrible,” says Edward V., who left a one-star review of the product. Similarly, Rea A.‘s negative review stated that this product “caused our entire family’s gums to be swollen.”
Harris suggests switching to a safer alternative, like Dr. Bronner’s All-In-One Toothpaste, which is SLS-free and is made from 70 percent organic ingredients. It uses hydrated silica, calcium carbonate, baking soda, potassium cocoate, and organic essential oils to get the job done.
Blistex Medicated Lip Balm
Lip-balm addicts (and you know who you are) are known for keeping the trusty tubes in their purses and pockets, at their desk, on their nightstand, and even in their car. One quick application and it is complete nirvana for your lips. Except when it’s not. “Worst thing I’ve done for my lips, totally dried them,” remarks Silvia in her one-star Amazon review of Blistex Medicated Lip Balm. Another unimpressed reviewer, The Veronica Show, says, “They make my lips drier so I constantly have to reapply.”
Seems like it may be time to shift your loyalty to Burt’s Bees Moisturizing Lip Balm. This all-natural product has a five-star rating on Amazon with 13,000 reviews. It’s made with beeswax, vitamin E, and a hint of peppermint oil for a nice tingle. If you’re looking for even more ways to justify your addiction, don’t miss these lip balm hacks you’ll wish you knew all along.
Garnier Fructis Pure Clean Shampoo
When it comes to “pure,” this Garnier Fructis shampoo sure leaves a lot to be desired. It boasts being paraben-free and silicone-free, which is great—but it still contains sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). “This harsh ingredient is known to irritate the skin,” says Harris. “Insufficient rinsing of SLS can leave a residue on the scalp and be irritating to hair follicles. It can be drying to your hair, causing breakage and hair loss. If you have dry skin, rosacea, or eczema, it’s recommended to avoid SLS.” In her one-star Amazon review, Trisha Chakraborty warns, “It causes too much hair fall. I was going bald. Tremendous hair fall after every wash. It will make your hair super dry.”
Instead, reach for an SLS-free shampoo option, such as OGX Renewing + Argan Oil of Morocco Shampoo.
Ziploc Sandwich Bags
It may be super convenient to store snacks and knickknacks in plastic Ziploc sandwich bags, but have you thought about what that does to the environment? Plus, there are complaints on Amazon that this product has downgraded in quality over the years. Giulia says the “bags keep ripping,” while K. Garner describes them as “extremely thin and flimsy.”
Educate yourself on these 50 facts that will make you stop using plastic—especially single-use plastic, like these—and commit to changing your habits. Trust us, you’ll be delighted with the alternative: Stasher Silicone Reusable Food Bags. These 100 percent silicone bags are plastic-free, dishwasher and microwave safe, and come in a variety of handy sizes.
Yankee Candle in Christmas Cookie
Ahhhh, isn’t it nice to set the mood with candles? But as you relax in the bathtub, enjoying the sweet smell of vanilla from your Yankee Candle, try not to dwell on the fact that the lovely fragrance is full of toxins. “Fragrance is considered a trade secret, so the individual ingredients don’t have to be named,” says Harris. “But many are linked to brain and nervous system toxicity, [and are] respiratory irritants, cancer-causing, and toxic to the reproductive system. A fragrance can be made up of a dozen different chemicals.”
No wonder Gregory‘s Amazon review says this: “After some hours of letting the candle burn…it was more of a stuffy toxic smell and left my throat with a bad scratch.” Since candles are one of 14 ways toxins are sneaking into your house, you’ll be relieved to know that Bluecorn Beeswax raw beeswax pillars are scented by honey and colored by pollen. Or if it’s the scent you crave more than the atmosphere, try diffusing essential oils.
Glad Food Storage Containers
Nearly 1,000 customers on Amazon have given 4.5 stars to these 42-ounce Glad Food Storage Containers…but that may be because they don’t know the long-term effects of their use. While these containers from Glad are BPA-free, plastic is still problematic, and many everyday items do contain this chemical. “Plastic food containers and water bottles can contain chemicals, such as BPA and phthalates, which can leach into foods and beverages,” says Harris. “These chemicals can disrupt hormones by affecting the endocrine system, which regulates every function of the body. They’ve also been linked to lower IQ and behavior issues in children.” Seriously, old plastic storage containers are one of the 13 items in your kitchen you need to throw out already. Glass containers and stainless-steel options—like this nesting set from MIRA—are chemical-free and more eco-friendly, too.
Clorox Disinfecting Wipes
Ever heard of Quats? No, not squats. Quats! “This very common toxin can be found under the sinks of many American households,” says Renee Wellenstein, MD, who is double-board certified in ob-gyn and functional medicine. “Quats, or quarternary ammonium compounds, are potent disinfectant chemicals commonly found in many disinfectant sprays, wipes, and cleaners that are used for the intent of killing germs.” She says that studies on mice have detected evidence of birth defects, which is concerning, but in humans, Quats are thought to mostly affect male sperm. Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, for instance, contain Alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride, which is a Quat.
Swap these bad boys for a safer, less harmful alternative, such as Force of Nature Multi-Purpose Cleaner. It’s as effective as bleach but only contains salt, water, and vinegar. Here are more green cleaning products that professional house cleaners trust most.
Band-Aid Flexible Fabric Adhesive Bandages
Anyone who cuts a finger or scrapes a knee automatically reaches for a Band-Aid—it’s always been the gold standard of bandages. But do all of the brand’s products deserve that reputation? “The fabric edges on these Band-Aids unravel,” complains R on Amazon, while Fun Finder says that they caused a skin reaction. And Naiad512 found them difficult to remove, saying, “Taking them off not only made me gasp in pain but tore out some stitches from the pressure of trying to get them off.” Yikes!
If you’re looking for an alternative, Patchstrips makes hypoallergenic bandages made from 100 percent organic bamboo fiber that are also free from irritating chemicals. Plus, they are 100 percent compostable and biodegradable, as well as latex- and plastic-free. It’s not as hard as you think to eliminate plastic from your life, by the way.
Vitamins seem like the healthiest thing you could possibly ingest, but that’s not always the case. “Most multivitamins are either loaded with added sugars, like the gummies versions, or they contain fillers and additives to improve the taste,” says Nicole Avena, PhD, an assistant professor at Mount Sinai Medical School and a visiting professor of health psychology at Princeton University. The first ingredient in Centrum MultiGummies happens to be sugar. No, thanks! Avena recommends Frunutta sublingual vitamins (which means they instantly dissolve under your tongue), because they contain no fillers or additives.
Neosporin Pain Relief Cream
Minor cuts and abrasions are inevitable, so you’re likely accustomed to reaching for an over-the-counter first-aid cream or ointment like Neosporin. However, Avena says that products like this are far from natural because they usually contain medicine, like bacitracin or antibiotics. “Sovereign Silver Topical Healing First Aid Gel is made from colloidal silver, which is a natural element that has been used medicinally for over 2,000 years,” she explains. “It reduces pain, swelling, and redness quickly, and is effective for a broad spectrum of minor topical issues. You can replace your antiseptic cream, burn ointment, calamine lotion, and acne creams with this one product.”
Coke Zero Sugar
If there’s one thing soda manufacturers shouldn’t mess with, it’s their loyal customers’ favorite diet formulas. “Failure, you ruined Coke Zero,” scolds Vicki in her two-star Amazon review of Coke Zero Sugar. “Terrible,” says Dpuzzo66. “No sugar added, but great Coke taste? No way!”
Plus, it’s made with aspartame, and Harris says artificial sweeteners can cause an imbalance of gut flora, leading to a host of problems, including weight gain. She prefers Spindrift flavored carbonated water, which tastes like soda but has natural ingredients. If you’re thinking about kicking the habit, don’t miss these other reasons to avoid soda—and that means diet, too.
Pure Protein 100% Whey Protein Powder
Whether you’re grabbing a quick shake for breakfast or replenishing your muscles after a tough workout, whey protein powder may seem like the answer. But Maggie Berghoff, a functional medicine nurse practitioner, would disagree: “Whey protein powder is inflammatory for many individuals and can contribute to inflammation, weight gain, irritability, headaches, bloating, and sleep complications.”
No wonder this is what Darcy Pennell said of this Pure Protein formulation: “It made me feel nauseated and bloated.” RebCarLeft doesn’t leave much to the imagination, stating, “After I finally drink it all, I am so bloated. Then I go on an uncontrollable burping binge. I swear I can burp the entire alphabet with all the air that gets trapped.” Maybe it’s time to switch to a plant-based protein powder, like Vega, instead?
Quilted Northern Toilet Paper
Honestly, who even thinks about the brand of toilet paper they buy? The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), that’s who! This nonprofit environmental advocacy organization recently released “The Issue with Tissue” report, which explains how choosing sustainable toilet paper helps protect forests. The NRDC say tissue products made from 100 percent recycled content have one-third the carbon footprint of those made from 100 percent virgin forest fiber—and that if every American switched one roll of virgin forest fiber to 100 percent recycled, we’d save 1 million trees. Consider switching from your regular Quilted Northern to Seventh Generation 100% recycled two-ply bathroom tissue and doing your part for the planet.