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What Are Microplastics?
Microplastics are small pieces of plastic, less than 5 mm long. Each year, 9.5 million tonnes of new plastic – that’s right – flows into the ocean (1).
Why Does It Matter?
- Plastic is a huge source of pollution, and very difficult to break down. According to National Geographic, some plastics can take up to 400 years to break down (2).
- The massive accumulation of plastics is also hurting wildlife. Millions of animals are killed by plastic pollution every year including birds, fish, other marine organism, and land-based animals (2).
- As a result, plastic is getting into our food and water sources. While wastewater treatment plants can remove microplastics, an average of 4 million plastic particles per day are still being released (3).
- Microplastics are in the air that we breath – yes, we are inhaling microplastic fibers. One study indicates that airborne microplastics could lead to issues with dyspnea and interstitial lung disease (4).
What Are The Biggest Sources Microplastics?
Water bottles and single use plastic bags are some of the obvious culprits contributing to massive plastic pollution. However, there are other less obvious sources of microplastics. According to this report, some of the key sources of microplastic include: (1)
- Synthetic textiles: Shredding of microplastics from our clothing during the laundry process (polyester, polyethylene, acrylic or elastane – are all unnatural, synthetic fibers!).
- Personal care products: Plastic microbeads in cosmetics and other personal care products
- City dust: Including from abrasion of objects such as synthetic cooking utensils, and synthetic soles of footwears, and from detergents
How Can I Avoid Microplastics?
Microplastics are everywhere, and many, if not all, of the day-to-day products we use and wear, are contributing. As big as these problems can feel, remember: we have the power to influence and shape the future of industry, economy, and the environment, with our conscious decisions to use sustainable, and eco-friendly products.
The below are quick and easy ways to kick start you transition away from plastic exposure, and towards a healthier environment.
1) Use a water filter
The Lifestraw Home Glass Water Filter protects against microplastics! It also protects against bacteria, lead, pesticides, and more. The pitcher is also made from shatter-resistant glass! What’s more? For every LifeStraw product purchased, a school child in need receives safe water for an entire school year.
2) Avoid synthetic clothing
There are plenty of clothing brands out there that are designing attractive and functional clothing made from natural fibers such as organic cotton, bamboo, and hemp! It can be challenging to switch your wardrobe as you experiment with different clothing fibers. So, start slow!
Check out these Bamboo Socks. Bamboo is naturally breathable, soft, antibacterial, absorbs moisture, and prevents odor.
3) Choose micro-bead free health and beauty products
Sukin Revitalizing Facial Scrub is made from natural ingredients, with no parabens or sulphates, is cruelty free, and comes in recyclable packaging! Wow! Instead of microplastic beads, this product uses bamboo extract and ground walnut shells to exfoliate!
4) Use bamboo cooking utensils
The Oceanstar Bamboo Cooking Utensil Kit comes with 7 pieces and even a bamboo holder! It has a compact design and is easy to clean with mild soap and water.
5) Use non-plastic food packaging
Move over plastic wrap! SuperBee Premium Beeswax Wraps are made form 100% organic materials, are plastic free, and are zero waste! The wraps are multipurpose including for sandwiches, vegetables, cheese, and bread. The wraps come in different sizes, and can be washed and reused!
6) Use a non-plastic water bottle
The Takeya Actives Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle is made with food grade stainless steel, keeps drinks cold for up to 24 hours and hot for up to 12 hours, and is BPA-free! Its also leak-proof, and comes in a wide variety of colours and sizes.
7) Use reusable shopping bags
The Best Canvas Grocery Shopping Bags is biodegradable, made from organic cotton, and contain no processed chemicals, fertilizers, or pesticides!
What approaches have you tried to reduce your plastic footprint? What plastic-alternatives do you find the most useful?
GOAL OF THE WEEK: It can be tough to start new routines! If you’re looking to reduce your plastic exposure and plastic pollution, start slow! Pick just one of the above recommendations to experiment with. Every small step in the right direction counts!
Live Well Settled.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, at no cost to you. If you click on a link and make a purchase, we make a small commission. Read our full disclosure for more information. This website is a participant in the Indigo Affiliate Program which allows it to earn commissions from Indigo if you make a purchase on indigo.ca after linking through this website. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
(3) Microplastics: What are they and what can we do about them? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.iisd.org/blog/microplastics-what-are-they-and-what-can-we-do-about-them
(2) Parker, L. (2019, June 7). The world’s plastic pollution crisis explained. Retrieved from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/habitats/plastic-pollution/
(4) Prata, J. C. (2017, December 21). Airborne microplastics: Consequences to human health? Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0269749117307686
(1) Primary microplastics in the oceans. (1970, January 1). Retrieved from https://portals.iucn.org/library/node/46622
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