11 THINGS that POLLUTE the ENVIRONMENT more than we think

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How does a person pollute the environment? The truth is that during the day, through our lifestyle, we pollute the environment more than it may seem at first. Although sometimes they are actions that are apparently harmless, such as throwing a plastic cup on the ground, because taking into account all the human inhabitants of the planet, if we all throw a plastic cup on the ground, it translates into millions of plastics on the ground. and earth. We can also think about the pollution generated by all the industrial processes that occur throughout the world and the high level of consumerism that we have. Ultimately, our model of life is harmful to the environment and it is in the human being to be able to change it.

If you want to know some of the environmental pollutants, that is, to know how we pollute the water, how we pollute the air or the things that pollute the land or soil, then continue reading this interesting Green Ecologist article in which we talk about 11 examples of things that pollute the environment.

Greenhouse gases

We start this list of things that pollute the environment with one of the best known environmental pollutants: GHG or greenhouse gases. These are gases that are naturally present in the atmosphere, the most important being methane, chlorofluorocarbons, ozone, carbon dioxide, water vapor, nitrous oxide, and sulfur hexafluoride. Learn more about them with this other post about What gases produce the greenhouse effect and where they come from.

These gases in their natural concentrations are not harmful, but they are increasing by actions that pollute the atmosphere, such as the burning of fossil fuels, the burning of biomass, provoked forest fires, increased transport with cars or industrial processes. The increase in these causes the energy from the ground to be retained by gases, thus increasing the temperature of the planet.

Being this one of the things that pollute the air in large quantities, we consider that it is very important to be well informed about it, so we suggest you read this other article on How to reduce greenhouse gases.


Some of the objects that pollute the environment are batteries and batteries. These, if they are not deposited in places destined for their collection to be treated, are highly pollutingas they contain heavy metals. A single mercury battery, which is a small button-shaped battery, if it ends up in the sea or the river, can contaminate up to 600,000 liters of water.

Here we explain what to do with used batteries so that they do not contaminate.


A poor waste management can cause serious problems to the environment: decompose garbage it emits toxic gases into the atmosphere, its incorrect storage pollutes the soil causing it to lose fertility and modify its physical-chemical properties and, also, garbage can end up in seas and rivers polluting the water. In addition, it also generates a very bad smell and visual pollution, leaving images of the polluted environment that can be devastating.

In this link you can learn more about Garbage Pollution: causes and consequences.


There are many illegal or accidental dumping that are discharged into rivers and seas contaminating the water and living beings that inhabit these ecosystems. The problem is that many companies that dump this waste illegally, and sometimes they are toxic, since due to the policies colloquially called "Who pollutes pays" it seems to them that it is more economically profitable for the company to dump them so that they manage their own waste by a manager authorized to manage them well, avoiding contamination as much as possible. Sometimes there are also oil tanker accidents, producing oil leaks that contaminate the water, the coasts and the living beings that inhabit that place.

If you want to learn more about these topics, here you can read about What are industrial discharges in water and its treatment and also the Causes and consequences of water pollution.

Cigarette butts

It is very common to go to the mountains and, above all, to the beach and find cigarette butts thrown in the sand and the big problem with this is that, in the end, they end up in the rivers and in the sea. A single cigarette butt can contaminate up to 10 liters of seawater and 50 liters if it is fresh water[1]. Due to its composition with cadmium, arsenic, toluene or tar, they end up poisoning some animal species because they mistake cigarette butts for food. Smoking harms human health, but also harms the environment.


Pesticides They are used to isolate and kill crop pests, but the problem is that they not only kill target species, in many cases they also kill other species that do not harm crops as they are sprayed over entire agricultural fields. They are also products that pollute the environment, as they end up contaminating the soil and both surface and groundwater.

Here you can learn more about Soil Pollution: causes, consequences and solutions.


The glitter, almost always present in leisure events and celebrations in which it is typical to dress up, has a great impact on the environment because it falls within the group of things that pollute the water. Glitter is nothing but small PET fragments, that is to say, microplastics that end up contaminating bodies of water, in the stomach of aquatic animals and, ultimately, in that of human beings, since we also eat marine animals.

Cosmetics with microspheres

The microspheres are made of plastic and they are present in cosmetics used for personal hygiene and cleaning (creams, scrubs, lotions, detergents, shampoos, toothpaste …). These plastic microspheres replace natural materials and eventually end up in rivers, seas and oceans, as occurs with glitter and causing the same problems in the environment and our health.

Here you can learn more about what are microplastics and their types.

Coffee capsules

The coffee capsule machines were a real revolution, in just a few seconds with it you can prepare a good quality coffee, as well as being able to choose between different types (black coffee, coffee with milk, cut, with caramel, etc.). However, this type of coffee maker is causing a real impact on the environment, since capsules cannot be recycled as such and end up in landfills.

There are countries that have already banned them, such as Germany in 2016. Currently, some coffee capsule companies have launched actions of collection and recycling, so, depending on the company, we can return the used coffee capsules to some establishments. However, the most sensible thing is to use the traditional coffee maker, but if we already have a coffee maker of this type we also have the option to buy reusable capsules and we would only have to fill them with coffee every time we need it.

Here we talk more about the topic of Where to recycle coffee capsules.

Single-use plastics

For some years now we are dumping up to 8 million tons of plastic into the sea annually, polluting seas, oceans and killing many animal species that mistake it for food. Furthermore, plastic, when consumed by animals, ends up not only destroying the ecosystem they are in, but also entering the food chain and reaches our body by consuming these marine animals contaminated by microplastics. In addition, this single-use plastic, like the rest of plastics that end up becoming microplastics in water, not only comes through the ingestion of marine animals, but also through the water we drink, whether it comes from the bottle or tap, as it only changes the amount of it in the water. According to a study commissioned by WWF[2], which deals with an analysis of the human ingestion of plastics present in nature, people currently consume around 21 grams of microplastics per month.

Although plastic of all kinds reaches the sea, those for single use generate a greater problem, since many cannot even be recycled well and many others are not recycled. Between the single use plastics we find balloons (which also pollute the air), cutlery and plates for parties, plastic bottles of water and soft drinks, canes, straws or straws, etc.

We encourage you to discover more about this topic with this link to our article on Plastic Pollution: causes, consequences and solutions.

Wet wipes

The wet wipes They are often used to clean babies when they change their diapers and for good hygiene of intimate areas, but there are also disinfectants for surfaces, make-up removers and, in addition, some are used as refreshing with deodorant or to replace soap for wash hands. Although they are comfortable to use and leave us smelling good, the reality is that these they end up blocking the sewer network being flushed down the toilet, representing a problem in treatment plants and water contamination very serious.

How to pollute less

There are too many actions that are bad for the environment and sometimes it is difficult to know what pollutes the environment the most, but there are also many actions that we can take to reduce pollution.

  • Do not use plastic bags, we can always use a cloth one.
  • Opt for public transport or use the bicycle to get around.
  • Reduce the consumption of things that are not really necessary.
  • Recycle all those wastes that can be recycled.
  • Buy energy efficient products and energy saving light bulbs.
  • Choose reusable products.
  • Buy local products.
  • Buy products that contain no or less plastics.
  • Go back to traditional actions like buying in bulk.
  • Do not buy fresh foods, such as fruits and vegetables, that are wrapped in plastic.
  • Take to the clean point all those waste that must receive a special treatment such as electrical appliances, batteries, electronic devices, etc.

Discover more tips in this other post on How to avoid environmental pollution.

If you want to read more articles similar to Things that pollute the environment, we recommend that you enter our Pollution category.

  1. Yuste, C. (EFE). August 2022. RTVE News. Each cigarette butt can contaminate between 8 and 10 liters of sea water and up to 50 liters if it is fresh water: https://www.rtve.es/noticias/20180806/cada-colilla-puede-contaminar-entre-8- 10-liters-sea-water-up-to-50-liters-for-fresh-water / 1775421.shtml
  2. An analysis on the human ingestion of plastics present in nature. WWF or World Wildlife Fund. We consume the equivalent of a credit card every week: https://www.wwf.es/informate/actualidad/?50940/Consumimos-el-equivalente-a-una-tarjeta-de-credito-cada-semana
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