Humans have created 8.3 billion metric tonnes of plastic since 1950. Only 9% of our plastic waste ends up recycled. Most of this plastic ends up in landfills and is left carelessly in our environment. Here it breaks into microparticles that contaminate water and air, harm marine wildlife and are ultimately ingested by us humans.
What is microplastic?
Microplastics are not a specific kind of plastic, but rather any type of plastic fragment that is less than 5 mm in length. These microplastics never dissolve and stay in the ocean forever. As we know, plastic does not biodegrade. This is because it is new to the environment. Our bacteria has not evolved to break down the carbon-carbon links found in plastic. For now, it remains forever!
These microplastic particles makes its way to our rivers, lakes and oceans. Microplastics critically endanger aquatic creatures, as well as turtles and birds. Blocking digestive tracts and their stomachs packed with our plastic, species waste away and die.
The plastic is in our fish, makes its way to our plate. Did you know the average person consumes about 5g of plastic every week from water alone? Bottled water has 22 times more plastic than tap water with 93% of bottled water brands containing microplastics! Why should we be worried about this? Mainly because the different toxic and carcinogenic chemicals used to make these plastics and what they carry can have detrimental effects over a long time.
Juxtapoz Magazine : Polluted Water Popsicles Highlight Taiwan's Water Pollution Problem
Seven steps to making a difference
1. Single-Use Plastics Swaps
Swap your single use plastics for a more environmentally conscious, longer lasting alternative. Our staples we never leave the house without are shopping bag, coffee cups, water bottles and reusable cutlery for your snack.
At present, humans recycle just 9% of plastic used on earth. You have the responsibility to recycle your plastic responsibly. Many people struggle with the breakdown of what can and cant be recycled and end up not doing it. We need to educate ourselves. Check with your local recycling center what plastic they accept, it takes two minutes and has huge long term benefits for our planet.
3. Cosmetics Dirty Little Secret
Watch out for the microbeads that are hidden in cosmetics. Microbeads are making their way into our homes, and we are flushing them down the drain. The common microplastic ingredients that sneak into our cosmetics are..
Polyethylene (PE) Polypropylene (PP) Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) Nylon (PA) Polyurethane and Acrylates copolymer.
beatthemicrobead.org will let you know if your product has microbeads and what ingredients mentioned could be potentially microplastics.
The top five products to look out for are..
5. Beach Cleanups
Getting out there and cleaning the beach, coastal and ocean ecosystem is vital. By participating in beach clean ups we are making sure that the rubbish doesn’t kill marine life or is toxic enough to disturb the marine lifecycle. What better way to connect to the earth and get involved in your local community. If you cant find any in the upcoming events, organize one yourself! Here’s some tips on how to go about it!