We know receipts may not seem like a huge ecological problem, but they're another example of how quickly those little things add up to a a huge impact! Let's be honest, receipts are annoying. They pile up in your wallet, car, random "stuff" drawers, and the majority of the time you don't even need them and just end up throwing them away.
Did you know that all those shiny, thermal paper receipts can't be recycled and are actually toxic?
Skipping receipts in the US would save 12 billion pounds of CO2 every year, the equivalent of one million cars on the road!
Okay, let's backtrack a bit and first of all explain why receipts are toxic. The thermal paper receipts (used by the vast majority of stores), have a coating of Bisphenol-A (BPA) or Bisphenol-S (BPS) on them. BPA is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s and has been linked to fertility problems, breast and prostate cancer, heart disease, issues with fetal brain development and other conditions. Although the FDA says that the average American is exposed to levels of BPA that aren't harmful, research is still being done to determine the degree of exposure and the effects from it.
However, studies have shown that 93% of receipts in the US are coated with BPA or BPS and employees who regularly handle receipts have over 30 percent more BPA or BPS in their bodies.
Side note: you might remember us mentioning this chemical in our recycled toilet paper blog where we explained that the trace amounts of BPA found in recycled toilet paper comes from recycled paper streams contaminated by BPA-coated receipts.
Not only are receipts toxic to us, but they're also devastating to the environment. Each year in the U.S., up to 10 million trees and 21 billion gallons of water are used to make receipts. And all this adds up to about 686 million pounds of waste.
So what can you do? So glad you asked!
Refuse paper receipts when you can
Advocate for stores to move toward an electronic receipt system
And if you don't feel comfortable giving out your personal email (due to privacy concerns or possible spam), then set up a separate one just for receipts!