Paper Receipts Are Bad for Your Health and the Environment
If you’ve ever stepped foot in a CVS, chances are you’ve crossed paths with a receipt worthy of a gold medal performance in rhythmic gymnastics at the Olympics. “Why are CVS receipts so long?” is a popular topic on social media. The slick, flimsy paper tentacles have extended themselves into internet culture with people posting pictures of themselves next to a receipt as tall as they are, dressing up as a CVS receipt for Halloween, and even invoking them in royal wedding memes.
But behind the innocuous folly is an environmental — and health — crisis. Every year, the United States consumes 3.3 million trees and 9 billion gallons of water, while emitting 4.6 billion pounds of CO2 in the process of paper receipt production. American consumers collect dozens of receipts every week at the bottom of their reusable shopping bags, in wallets in place of cash, or shoved into coat and pants pockets. Once the old scrolls have sufficiently taken up a bit too much space, the question turns on what to do with them. Most end up in the trash, although more environmentally conscientious consumers might place them with their recyclables. Yet, unfortunately, the majority of receipts are printed on thermal paper, which cannot be recycled.
“Most consumers would be shocked to learn that the seemingly innocent receipt paper they handle day in and day out can be laden with toxic chemicals,” says Mike Schade, Mind the Store campaign director for Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, which challenges America’s leading retailers to lead the marketplace away from hazardous chemicals and toward safer alternatives. “These chemicals don’t just stay on the paper, but can make their way into our bodies as a result of simply handling receipt paper. Retailers should move swiftly to eliminate these harmful chemicals and transition to safer options like e-receipts,” Schade says.
Thermal paper receipts are not just paper. The proverbial “bad guy” when it comes to thermal paper is a substance…