The One Item You Should Avoid Buying At The Dollar Store
LifeAspire Staff 1/6/2017
How to stretch a dollar is on the minds of all budget conscious shoppers these days. Playing a big role in that constant endeavor are dollar stores which offer all kinds of daily necessities from kitchenware, to groceries, to items of personal hygiene, at an unreal low price when compared to traditional retail stores. So, what's not to love?
All that shines is not gold however. While the dollar store can be an amazing place to get deals, experts warn to stay away from some products that have shown high levels of toxic chemicals. A 2015 study of dollar store products by Healthy Stuff, revealed that 81% of the products they tested from four major dollar store brands, contained at least one hazardous chemical above levels of concern, and 49% of products contained two or more.
So how to separate the good from the bad? Here is a list of common dollar store finds to avoid no matter how much of a good deal!
They are silly, they are colorful, they are so cute! Even adults can see the attraction in using one of these to drink our milk or juice. But silly straws tested for toxicity measured high in levels of DEHP, a phthalate used to soften brittle plastics.
DEHP exposure is linked to asthma and allergies, prostate and testicular cancer and even type 2 diabetes. Use of DEHP is restricted in children's products but surprisingly silly straws are technically not considered children's products.
It is tempting to buy the cheaper plastic spoons and spatulas because replacing them often is still cheaper than many name brand stainless steel ones in the market right now. But make no mistake, these utensils when tested had high levels of bromine which is used to make them flame retardants.
Bromine is linked to cancer, birth defects and impaired brain development, and even though it has been been banned in the U.S., our regulatory system misses the type used by suppliers via cheap recycled plastic.
It is terrible to be stranded without a phone charger, and it never hurts to have a few sets of headphones around the house. But buying extension cords, USB charging cords, and cell phone charger cables from dollar stores means buying products made of PVC.
PVC is a proven cancer-causing chemical that has harmed workers and contaminated communities close to the factories. Opt to buy these accessories from electronics stores instead; they will last longer and work better as well.
Children's Jewelry And Toys
Perhaps the biggest purchase for many from dollar stores are children toys and accessories. After all, they provide the necessary wow factor at a low cost making it possible to keep up with the changing whims of children! But items like the colorful beads, rings, jewelry, glittery toys, and even things like window clings, posters, and wall stickers are highly toxic.
Extremely harmful levels of PVC and Lead are found in most of these toys and should be avoided for the health and safety of all children. Definitely resist the urge to make birthday goodie bags with dollar store items.
Flannel Backed Table Covers And Vinyl Floor Coverings
Dollar stores offer many options in table covers and floor mates. It might be tempting to buy different ones to keep up with the rotating holidays and seasons around the year. But again, as many of the products listed above, these items contain lead and phthalates which can even be harmful to fetuses. The best thing to do is opt for products made from natural materials.
Holiday Decor Items
Adding that extra sparkle in the home is any holiday lovers dream. Each year, the cheap assortments of ornaments, garlands, and string lights at dollar stores make it possible to keep the atmosphere festive on a budget.
However, most of these items are manufactured cheaply as one can imagine, with harmful toxins like bromine and PVC. These items also tend to come with microscopic dust which can easily get on your hands and home and be ingested by pets and kids. Opt for more natural home made decorations like paper garlands.
To see how other products that you frequently buy but not listed above rank in the toxic chemical levels, head on to the 2015 report at Health Stuff which not only lists over a hundred specific items, but also gives more details on the types and levels of chemicals for which each item was tested.
Not all deals are bad deals however. Dollar stores tend to carry many name brand products that can be trusted for quality and safety as long as the packaging has not been tempered with. As a general rule one should be forewarned about products, especially children's products, that are made with vinyl plastic and toxic phthalates which are in widespread use in discount store products to keep prices low.
This video is a great guide on what to buy and what not to buy from dollar stores.
Stretching the dollar does not have to mean settling for poor quality and unsafe products. So often we are carried away in buying things not because of need but because how little they cost. Perhaps, not giving into such deal temptations should be the new way to save some pennies in the long run.