The Great Lakes and the Impacts of Plastic Pollution

For those living in the Upper Midwest, the Great Lakes are a way of life, from deep sea fishing and other water activities to vacation destinations and serene sunrises and sunsets. And the lakes are much more than recreational! The Great Lakes also make up the largest source of freshwater on the planet — at more than 20% of our fresh water.   

  • Lake Superior – the largest and coldest of the Great Lakes – reaches depths of more than 1300 feet. 
  • All 5 Great Lakes together make up more than 5,400 cubic miles of water. That’s 6 quadrillion gallons. That’s a lot of water. 
  • More than 30,000,000 people rely on the Great Lakes for drinking water – in both Canada and the United States. 

From the drinking water for more than 10,000,000 United States citizens to the habitat for more than 170 different species of fish — along with countless other types of marine life — the Great Lakes are a source of nourishment and life for animals and people alike. Many efforts have been made to preserve these vital ecosystems. However, years upon years of neglect within our manufacturing practices along with many bad habits and careless activities by all of us have had a massive impact. And it’s not something that can be ignored. 

  • More than 22 million pounds of plastic pollution end up in the Great Lakes every year. 
  • There are approximately 112,000 micro-particles of plastic per square mile of Great Lakes water. 

The pollutant particles that float through the water end up looking like food particles to fish, who then consume them. They often times stay in the digestive tract of the animal and act as sponges, undigested and absorbing poisons and toxins in the water. They end up staying in their bodies, being consumed by larger fish that are higher up on the food chain. Often times ending up in our food. 

From a water consumption standpoint, the story is the same. 

These microscopic pieces of plastic entered the Great Lakes through our wastewater. They made it through the water treatment and wastewater filtration systems because of their size (microplastics measure less than 5mm in length, with some of them virtually invisible). And when our water filtration systems pump water back into our treatment plants, those same microscopic pollutants will slip through the filtration media once again. It puts plastic into our drinking water. 

As you look at the fish lining the shelves at the supermarket, the beer on tap at your favorite brewery, or the water that’s being used for drinking and cooking, consider all that you’re not seeing. And while the problem is massive and the impacts are still being assessed, it’s worth considering the urgency of this matter. The more that we take seriously today the impact of plastic on the Great Lakes, the more we can start moving the needle on plastic pollution. 

Join Us at Filtrol as we work to stop plastic from entering the Great Lakes.

The Problem with Plastic

If you’ve been a student of plastic pollution on any level, you’ve discovered that the problem is much bigger (and much more microscopic) than grocery bags or plastic milk cartons clogging up our drainage systems and filling the oceans with garbage patches in the Pacific. 

The problem with plastic is that it’s everywhere. 

Plastic’s remnants exist in the most remote places of our planet; in particles so small that they can’t even be seen with the human eye. 

Plastic is everywhere. It’s in wildlife and in our drinking water. It’s well-documented and only moderately understood. It’s being studied, researched, and then studied again. It’s a topic of discussion anywhere that conservation and global responsibility are on the agenda. It’s a problem being addressed in research labs and in legislative efforts across the globe.

But the problem still exists. And the efforts we take to address plastic has implications for generations to come. 

The problem with plastic is that it’s forever. 

Well…maybe…almost forever. We haven’t been around forever yet to know how long it really sticks around. But we have been around long enough to see it find its way into serene landscapes and dark ocean depths. Aging and degradation studies have estimated that the amount of time for break down of certain plastics is more than 2000 years!  

The problem with plastic is that it never used to exist. 

Once production began of plastic more than a century ago, materials were introduced into our environment — into marine life, into our diets, and into our lives — that had previously never existed. We’re talking about a material that didn’t exist until we made it exist! And some bells can’t be unrung. The introduction of plastic brought with it a million different conveniences. However, with the introduction of it also came the corresponding hazards of foreign chemicals and harmful toxins entering our world in places previously untouched. It changed our world – in more than one way. 

The problem with plastic is the it’s all of ours.  

Some countries are doing more than others to cause the problem; some are doing more to solve it. Some people are doing just about nothing about the problem — maybe because of a lack of awareness or because individual contributions seem so insignificant. Regardless of how you may feel about plastic or pollution, the problem is a shared one. It’s a dilemma that impacts us on the most basic level. It doesn’t discriminate or limit itself to research facilities or legislative sessions.

The fight against plastic is all of ours: All of ours to address. All of ours to fight. 

Plastic pollution is an exponentially growing problem that needs an exponentially growing movement. Join Filtrol as we work to solve the problem with plastic. 

Caution: Healthy Choices Could Be Hazardous to Your Health

Caution: Healthy Choices Could Be Hazardous to Your Health

Data shows that there is a tremendous benefit to consuming more Omega-3 fatty acids, which aren’t made within the human body and must be sourced from our foods. Omega-3 fatty acids are known for their many essential health boosts

Among the Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids…

  • Lower blood pressure.
  • Reduce triglycerides.
  • Slow the development of plaque in the arteries.
  • Reduce the chance of abnormal heart rhythm.
  • Reduce the likelihood of heart attack and stroke.
  • Lessen the chance of sudden cardiac death in people with heart disease.

These healthy benefits aren’t available in red meats or fruits and vegetables. Fish, however, are a food source known to be incredibly rich in them. Unfortunately, more and more research is showing that fish are also known to be disappointingly rich in microplastic pollution

Plastics aren’t just a problem when we see them floating in the ocean or stuck in branches along the highway. Plastics have been found in microscopic form in the most remote places on the planet. Miles underneath the ocean. High up in mountain streams. Research over the past several years has already established that plastic is absolutely everywhere — even when you can’t see it. 

And it’s what you can’t see that is really the problem. 

The implications of plastic’s inundation in our world are just being uncovered as it relates to our diet and overall health. As microscopic plastic is flushed into rivers and streams – and eventually moving into oceans – it’s being consumed by fish. These sources of essential fatty acids are also feeding us the results of our toxic manufacturing processes. 

Health-conscious consumers will only eat “wild caught” fish, because they are often free of hormones and not tainted by the toxic environments that many farm-raised fish are exposed to. However, these fish caught in the wild still consumed massive amounts of plastic while in the ocean or freshwater lake or river. They often were unable to digest these plastics that eventually absorbed into their bodies. 

Somewhere in between completely healthy choices and complete disregard is the reality in which we live when it comes to plastic consumption. Consuming Omega-3 fatty acids is an essential part of a healthy life. If you’re going to get them from your diet, you’re probably also going to consume plastic along with them. So be aware of what you’re consuming. Be smart about the food choices you make. And be aware of the research and work being done to unpack the true implications of plastic in our diets. 

Less Plastic or Plastic-Less: Creating a Plastic Free Family

If you’ve got kids, you’re fully aware of the onslaught of plastic that’s bombarding our world just by surviving your home. From gauntlets of Lego® pieces in a dimly lit hallway to contractor bags full of packaging and zip ties after a kid’s birthday party; from plastic straws from the drive-thru to plastic masks at Halloween, plastic is everywhere in family life. Without even trying, you can have a home that’s more plastic than anything else. 

One of the simplest ways to curb your plastic consumption is to create a plan for your plastic use. How much do you use? How much will you use? What kinds of accommodations will you make to your life so that your family is producing less waste. 

Do a Week-Long Plastic Audit 

The best way to know how much plastic you’re using as a family is to start paying attention. Pull out a notebook and create a log of all of the single-use plastics you and your family have used and thrown away. Packaging for perishable foods. Sandwich bags for school lunches or snacks. Grocery bags. Dental floss (yes…dental floss is most often made of nylon, which is a type of plastic). Shampoo bottles. There’s even plastic in some coffee filters! 

To make your log more accurate, and to make your effort more effective, consider inviting the whole family to take part. 

Invest in (and Commit to) 3 or 4 Plastic Alternative Solutions 

On your journey to being completely plastic-less (a mountain that not many have climbed), you can certainly consume less plastic. Consider shampoos and soaps that are plastic free, like HiBar (check them out: Buy reusable snack bags and eco-friendly grocery bags. Change your diet or at least shopping patterns so that you’re consuming less of the items that package everything in plastic (FYI – this effort often involves less processed food and subsequently higher grocery bills). 

The point is that you don’t have to be plastic free overnight to make a difference. 

Make a Long-Term Investment

This is where we do a bit of self-praise. The Filtrol is a great investment for your family and for our ecosystem. This easy-to-install after-market washing machine filter is the most effective micro particle laundry filtration system available. A small financial investment protects our environment from the plastic pollution that comes from laundry. The added bonus for families with a septic system: The Filtrol keeps plastics from leaving your home through your laundry’s wastewater. It protects your investment and extends the life of your septic system. 

So join us as we try to help more families make a plastic-less — or at least a less plastic —  commitment. And let us know what you’re doing! We want to hear how much plastic you’ve been consuming and what plastic alternatives you’ve found!

Things You Can Do To Make Your Home More Green

Things You Can Do To Make Your Home More Green

Using the word “green” to describe your level of commitment to a clean, healthy, and well-preserved planet is a relatively new concept. It’s only a decade or two old. But as research on climate change and pollution impacts around the globe has increased, so have conversations around how an individual or family can do their own individual part to slow down the devastations of pollution. 

The pollution impacts around our world are enormous and many of the major sources of it won’t be stopped until the international community takes pro-active and united steps to reform and monitor systems and structures for manufacturing. But that doesn’t mean we should wait until other people, big companies, or government systems make a change. We can all do something now. 

Here are some things that your family can do simply by starting some new habits and making some simple changes in life: 

Stop Using Straws

How many times have you gone through a drive through at a fast food restaurant this year? Imagine if each time you did that, you used your own, reusable straw rather than the single-use one given to you. That simple step can make a big difference. 

Did you know that the average person in the U.S. uses 38,000 plastic drinking straws between the ages of 5 and 65 and that Americans use roughly 500 millions straws every day?!

Reusable Grocery Bags

You knew this one was going to be included. Again, we recognize that one family stopping the use of plastic bags at their local grocery store isn’t going to bring pandas back from the brink of extinction. But it will make your family more of a contributor to good than a contributor to bad. 

Have you ever been to a grocery store where someone bags your groceries and uses just about one plastic bag per item? It will make you stop and catch your breath. So consider making a commitment to use reusable bags from now on and make a small dent in the massive problem. 

Buy Better Clothes

Some people have just gotten the excuse they were looking for to go shopping. Did you know that cheap clothing is often made of synthetic materials? Did you know that “synthetic” in this context essentially means “plastic?” That means that every time you wash that shirt you bought that’s made of polyester, you’re flushing microscopic particles of plastic from your home and into nature. Cheap clothes are made of cheap fabrics. Cheap fabrics are made of plastic, and they shed millions of fibers when they’re washed.

The best solution for stopping microfiber pollution from laundry in its tracks is to buy and install the Filtrol. This easy-to-install, easy-to-maintain water filtration system stops plastics before they leave your home and enter our ecosystem. It’s an easy, no-hassle way to make a tangible impact. 

The problem may seem massive, but there is still plenty that can be done in each of our homes to make a difference. What about you? What is a practical step you and your family can take to slow down the plastic consumption? Things You Can Do To Make Your Home More Green

Plastic’s Impact on Wildlife

Plastic’s Impact on Wildlife

The fight to fend off plastic’s intrusion in our world isn’t just a line item of a political agenda or an effort of professional conservationists. It’s being picked up by people on both sides of political aisles, regardless of how they agree or disagree on myriad of other issues. It’s impacting every corner of our planet and has implications for all of us, and so the fight is one to take seriously. 

Plastic of all sizes is having an impact on wildlife. It’s replacing food for them but never digesting. It’s impacting and disrupting an otherwise resilient ecosystem. From tiny beads of plastic and nearly-invisible strands of synthetic fibers floating down river to plastic bags and strands of knotted fishing lines lodged in the digestive tracts of sea life.

The practical implications to wildlife is something few people truly understand.  

The Fishing Gear Death Toll

World Animal Protection released a report in 2014 — an eternity ago as far as plastic production and pollution are concerned — stating that at least 136,000 seals, sea lions, and whales, as well as “inestimable” number of birds, sea turtles, and other animals, die each year from fishing nets that are discarded. These discarded nets (called ghost-gear) entangle themselves on the ocean floor and float aimlessly and mercilessly through the water. 

The Microplastic Impact

When microscopic particles of plastic (less than 5 mm in size) make their way from your home and into your wastewater, they eventually end up back in streams, rivers, and lakes. They end up in the ocean and in our bottled water and favorite beer. They are in the Great Lakes and in rivers that flow from mountain tops. They are 7 miles under the surface of the ocean and they are in the most remote parts of our planet. And these microplastics are being consumed by the smallest members of the food chain — and subsequently then being consumed all the way up until they’re on our dinner plates.

By far, some of the most exhaustive work we’ve done to research the impacts and implications of plastic on our ecosystem pales in comparison to the work being done by others. For a lengthy read that unpacks some of what was discussed here and yet goes deep into detail with both selective stories of plastic’s deadly impact on specific sea creatures, check out this article from the National Wildlife Federation.Some of the content from this post was pulled directly from their research and writing. 

Solutions that Work

Solutions that Work

Commercial Plastic Pollution and the Way Forward

Plastic pollution comes in all shapes and sizes, from plastic garbage bags and straws to pieces of synthetic materials invisible to the naked eye. The Filtrol is designed to remove microscopic plastics from your home’s laundry and trap them before sending them out into the ecosystem. It is the most effective plastic pollution mitigation and control system on the market, with iteration after iteration of the technology advancing its effectiveness and success.

Commercial Laundry and its Impact in the US

According to statistics released by the National Parks Service a commercial laundry machine uses, on average, 34.7K gallons of water a year. If each load of laundry releases 10-12 million microfibers from the machine and into wastewater, even conservative numbers would make a massive impact on our water and food supplies.

If a commercial laundry machine washes 2.5 loads a day (based on those averages and statistics released by the National Parks Service), at 40 gallons of water per load and 10-12 million microfibers released per load, conservative numbers would look like this:

2.5 Loads per Day x 10,000,000 particles per Load = 23,767,123 Microparticles per Day

The average laundromat has 20-30 machines. So those pollution numbers, conservatively speaking, look more like this:

23,767,123 Pollutants per Day x 20 Machines Per Facility = 475,342,466 Pollutants per Day per Laundromat

There are roughly 18,600 laundromats in the United States, which would mean that nationwide, laundromats make this kind of environmental impact: 

8,841,369,863,013.699 Pollutants per Day (Nationwide, from Laundromats)

For the sake of conversation, consider that if laundromats are operating at that same level for 300 days a year, the annual rate of plastic pollution output by laundromats in the United States would put 2,654,410,958,904,110 microscopic synthetic plastic particles into the environment. In case you’re wondering, that first number is 2 Quadrillion. 

That’s an awful lot of impact to our environment from synthetic fibers. And it makes a compelling case for commercial laundry solutions for plastic pollution. 

We recognize that these numbers are anecdotal, as it assumes that every laundromat is operating 20 of its machines everyday at an average use rate. Add to that the variability that comes with various commercial machine scenarios. Industrial washing machines, like those used at clothing manufacturers or large hotels, hospitals, use more water and operate on a varying basis depending on demand, production schedules, and economic and environmental considerations. 

Consider that beyond your neighborhood laundromat, every motel, hotel, and hospitality business, and every textile and fabric clothing company is spilling obscene amounts of plastic into the environment with each one of their machines. As we continue to research the real implications of plastic’s presence in our environment, Filtrol will continue our efforts to get our plastic pollution solution installed in every home and business in the country.

Plastic Alternatives – Are they making a difference?

Plastic Alternatives – Are they making a difference?

A trip to the grocery store gives you a chance to be eco-friendly and save a little bit of money with reusable bags. Where companies in the past once handed out stress balls or Bic Click’s to potential customers or new employees, they’re now handing out reusable straws. Legislative efforts and education campaigns are making the problem of plastic more universally known and more unilaterally confronted. 

Single use plastics are a problem.

Grocery bags, plastic silverware, straws, and food containers are everywhere. Plastic pollution varies from water bottles in the ditch and plastic bags on beaches to microscopic particles floating in the ocean and lodged in the stomachs of sea life. 

There aren’t many people who carry a reusable straw with them and choose to use it instead of a plastic, single-use one. The number of plastic grocery bags used at a single supermarket on a single day is barely impacted at all by the eco-conscious family of 4 who bring their own hemp grocery sacks. And while these anecdotal reflections don’t necessarily mean we should abandon our efforts, we also need to consider broader efforts to address the plastic pollution crisis. 

The question is still worth asking…

Are alternatives to single-use plastics really moving the needle? 

Research is continually being done to truly capture the impact of plastic on our world. Cost and convenience seem to be more important than care and conservation, as an ever-growing garbage patch continues to take up more than 615,000 square miles of the Pacific Ocean. We’ve all seen images of plastic in the stomaches of wildlife or around the necks of ducks. We’ve seen research and heard TED Talks. Despite the growing problem and the vast amount of research, single-use plastics are still used in excess and single-use plastic alternatives are still relatively a non-factor in the fight.

So what is the way forward? 

At Filtrol, we believe wholeheartedly is that the way forward is to stay the course. We know that the work we’re doing is worth the effort. We know that the problem of plastic isn’t going away and the impacts of it aren’t either. And we know that we all have a part to play. 

While it may seem overwhelming or like an uphill climb, we can’t ignore the massive responsibility on our shoulders to protect our environment for future generations. We need to continue to address the big issues – the single use plastics, the bags in streets and straws at the restaurants. We need to to continue to address the small issues – the Microplastics being flushed into your wastewater with every load of laundry. We need to continue to partner with organizations and manufacturing companies who are paying attention to these issues and doing their part. We need to continue to shed light on the problem and give hope for the way forward. 

And at Filtrol, we’re committed to all of this…no matter how big (and how small) the fight is.

Legislative Efforts to Control Plastic

The Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act of 2021 (BFFPPA ) was recently introduced in Congress and is the most comprehensive legislative effort to date to mitigate the impacts of toxic synthetics on our ecosystem, our communities, and our personal health. Essentially, the bill is building on the momentum and progress made by various state-driven initiatives to employ plastic reduction strategies. Ultimately, the bill is targeting three primary areas of impact with plastic production, use, and disposal. 

Reducing Production 

The process of producing plastic is just as harmful to our ecosystem as the use of and disposal of it. At least 144 chemicals known to be harmful to human health are present in the production of plastic. The development and production process and the pollution that comes from consumer waste and improper disposal all add up to significant amounts of toxic, dangerous chemicals that are impacting our environment, our communities, and our health. 

Increasing Recycling

Only a fraction of the plastic that is produced and sold ends up properly recycled. This means that the overwhelming majority of it ends up carelessly tossed into landfills or littered into our environment. More comprehensive efforts to ensure that plastic ends up where it belongs when it is being discarded can have a massive, lasting impact for our entire planet — from the smallest microbiota to the very top of the food chain; from the most pristine and picturesque landscapes to the food served at a restaurant. 

Protecting Communities

Some geographical and socio-economic communities have greater levels of exposure and vulnerabilities to the toxic components of plastic production. For instance, much of the plastic waste that is either discarded or incinerated is done so in facilities located in lower income communities. This exposes residents of those communities to harmful gases and emissions that can cause significant health issues. 

To learn more about the BFFPPA — and to get involved in making moves against the onslaught of plastic on our environment, our communities, and our health, click here.

To learn more about the ingestion of plastic and its impacts on people and animals, click here.

To learn more about the toxic chemicals that have been identified in plastic, click here.

To learn more about the Filtrol and what we’re doing to stop plastic in its tracks, click here.

Is Bottled Water Helping or Hurting?

When it comes to plastic pollution, the question must be asked, “Is bottled water making it worse?” 

If you have ever been outdoors, you’ve seen an empty water bottle where it didn’t belong. On the side of the road. In a lake. On a trail. In countries like a Haiti, where relief efforts took off several years ago, a simple rainstorm washes thousands of plastic bottles into the streets and walkways. The point: Plastic bottles are everywhere. They’re being manufactured by the millions and they’re wreaking havoc on our ecosystem. While they provide drinkable water – though whether the water is free from plastic microparticles is another discussion – they aren’t addressing other significant ecosystem crises.

According to, Americans went through about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year with a dismal 23 percent recycling rate. Add to that an estimated 22 million pounds of plastic that goes into the waters of the Great Lakes each year, you’re looking at a legitimate issue. 

But does the presence of plastic in bottles undo the other efforts being taken to stop plastic from hitting our ecosystem?  

At Filtrol, we recognize the dilemma in front of us. On one hand, water is polluted with plastic micro-particles. The more unfiltered water you drink from your tap, the more plastic you’re consuming. And the jury is still out on how bad plastic is on our ecosystem and our bodies. For this reason, bottled water (assuming it’s tested and doesn’t have any microscopic pieces of plastic) is an understandable alternative to tap water. On the other hand, if our goal is to protect our environment, disposable plastic bottles are clearly taking us in the opposite direction. 

Check out these details and facts about plastic bottles taken directly from Healthy Human, an organization that seeks to build a healthier planet with innovative and eco-friendly products (such as reusable plastic bottles). 

  1. It takes 3 times the amount of water in a bottle of water to make it as it does to fill it.
  2. Plastic water bottles are made from a petroleum product called polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which requires giant amounts of fossil fuels to make and transport.
  3. The production of bottled water uses 17 million barrels of oil a year. That’s slightly more than it would take to fill one million cars a year with fuel.
  4. It takes almost 2,000 times the energy to manufacture a bottle of water than it does to produce tap water.
  5. If you fill a plastic water bottle so it is about 25% full, that’s about how much oil it took to make the bottle.

So with the dilemma and discussion related to plastic pollution, we recognize that the work in front of us isn’t as simple as a one-size-fits-all solution. The problem of plastic isn’t going away because of Filtrol. It’s not disappearing because of Healthy Human. If this problem is going to be taken care of, it’s going to take a lot of people. It’s going to take innovation, education, and legislation. It’s going to take a change of mind and a change in lifestyle from all of us.