Just because something’s cheap doesn’t mean it’s good value – in fact a number of items can actually be quite toxic if you buy them from a cheapie store.
A recent expose by Business Insider showed out of 100 products sold at dollar stores were “up to 81-percent toxic”.
Unfortunately, toxic substances sold at discount variety stores are nothing new, and despite tests and research, products are still on shelves.
Here are 6 items you’re better off paying more for:
1. Electronic accessories
Extension cords, USB charging cords and mobile phone charger cables from variety stores tested high in chlorine, a sign that the items were made with a plastic called polyvinyl chloride, or PVC. PVC is made from vinyl chloride, a cancer-causing chemical that has harmed workers and contaminated communities close to the factories. Not to mention, electronics made cheaply can be a fire hazard or could cause electric shock, so it’s always best to buy the branded product.
2. Plastic kitchen utensils
Those black slotted spoons and spatulas may contain high levels of bromine, a component in brominated flame retardants. And although these are added to make the products resistant to fire, they’ve been linked to cancer, birth defects and impaired brain development. It’s thought that they are present in cheap utensils because suppliers are likely substituting cheap, hazardous recycled plastic for new plastics.
3. Straws and cups
Stop! Don’t put that cheap cup or straw to your mouth: they have tested high for levels of DEHP, a phthalate used widely in consumer products, usually to soften brittle plastics. Studies have linked phthalate exposure to asthma and allergies, prostate and testicular cancer and type 2 diabetes.
4. Flannel table covers
These bright, reusable covers seem like an economical way to dress up your table but recent testing uncovered high levels of lead. Instead, choose fabric.
5. Plastic bath mats
Flexible, adhesive bath mats from dollar stores have tested high in both phthalates and chlorine. Simply avoid the word vinyl in any product at the $2 shop.
6. Fairy lights
Like electronics, fairy lights can be dangerous if you buy them cheaply. To avoid a potential hazard, make sure they are RoHS-compliant (“Restriction of Hazardous Substances”).
Tips for avoiding toxic chemicals in cheap $2 store products:
1. Buy Australian made instead – they are subject to rigorous regulations and Australian manufacturers are not permitted to use harmful chemicals.
2. If you have to, buy glass and stainless steel items from the cheapie shop.
3. Try the natural approach: you can usually make any personal hygiene or cleaning product at home cheaply – even cheaper than the variety store.