Updated: Jun 5
What are Microplastics and Why Should We Care
Microplastics are small fragments of degraded plastic waste that measure less than five millimetres.
The main issue with microplastics is that they end up in the ecosystem and are ingested by living things, which can lead to serious health problems. Moreover, other pollutants, such as pesticides, PCBs, DDT and dioxins, can collect on the surface of micro plastics, and when ingested, release these toxic chemicals that accumulate in animal tissues and eventually make their way up the food chain (sustainability.yale.edu).
Microplastics often make their way into drinking water, as well as into foods (salt, honey, sugar, etc). Research suggests that humans are consuming more than 100,000 microplastics particles per year.
What can we do?
Avoid single use plastics
Avoid cosmetic products with microbeads
Wash your synthetic clothes in microplastic wash bags (guppyfriend bags). Run the washing machine cycle on a lower setting, to avoid fibres pulling away. Clothing made out of plastic is one of the biggest sources of microplastic pollution. A single load of laundry can release more than 1 million microplastic fibres into the environment (Globalcitizen.org).
Buy clothes made out of natural materials when possible: cotton, silk, wool, hemp and linen
Avoid buying products with excessive packaging
Choose glass or metal drinking containers over plastic
Get involved in local clean up efforts to reduce the plastics already polluting the environment
Clean up your beach, as this is where a lot of plastic degradation takes place. High temperatures on the hot sand surface fades plastic trash into brittle pieces that are then carried away by high tides and wind adding them to the growing plastic marine pollution (Treehugger.com).
Demand greener plastics (plant-based, biodegradable). Consumer demand for greener products will force industry to come up with better solutions
“Making the problem visible to people is really an important part of understanding plastics in the environment. We have to own all of it, not just what we buy and use, but everything we see. We got all of the plastic out there, and together we can get a lot of the plastic out.” Leigh Shemitz, environmental health expert