Plastic is a common part of our everyday life. Over the years, items that used to be made from glass, wood, and cotton have been replaced by plastic. At first, this made sense, plastic is cheap and easy to make and ultimately makes our day-to-day lives easier. However, single-use and non-recyclable plastic have stealthily infiltrated our homes and lives. Only 20% of plastics are recycled worldwide, and even less in the United States, where we recycle only 9% of plastics.
You probably have heard about the effects of plastic pollution on the environment, oceans, and wildlife with mantras like “Save the Turtles” and “Protect the Oceans.” But have you ever asked yourself, “How is plastic pollution affecting humans?”
How Plastic Pollution is Affecting the Human Body
It’s easy to think of plastic pollution in plastic bottles and shopping bags – those are the items we can see easily. But plastic pollution is also microscopic. Larger plastics break down into microplastics, and clothes made with synthetic plastic materials release thousands of microfibers (microplastics measuring 5mm or less) into our water systems with every load of laundry. Microplastics have been found in humans’ blood, lungs, and feces, bringing with them toxic chemicals that can be hazardous to our health.
Microplastics Attract Toxins
These tiny plastic pieces are magnets for toxic materials such as PCBs or pesticides and bind themselves to the plastic. The microplastics then make their way from the wastewater and ground back into the water we drink, our food, and the air we breathe.
Microplastics are in Our Water
Because the minuscule plastics are so small, they make their way past the water treatment plants and filters and back into the water we use every day for drinking, cooking, bathing, and cleaning. That means that we’re ingesting and surrounding ourselves with toxic-bound plastics.
Microplastics are in Our Food
Since microplastics are pervasive in our water, animals are also ingesting the chemical-laden plastics, and crops are affected. The meat and veggies make their way up the food chain to our plates filling our digestive systems and eventually our blood with the plastics and toxins.
Microplastics are in Our Air
Microplastics are also carried by the wind to even the world’s most remote places. They are released through the evaporation of water, home laundry dryers, the friction of tires on the ground, and more. We then breathe them into our lungs, where they become lodged and can create larger health issues.
What Can You Do?
It’s important to stay informed about how prevalent microplastics are in our everyday life. But you don’t need to get discouraged. Instead, you can look for ways to help reduce the harm microplastics are causing globally.
Shop Consciously. There is power in how you spend your money. Choosing plastic-free, sustainable, and reusable products is a great start and signals to companies that you value earth-friendly goods.
Reuse and Recycle. Plastics aren’t going away anytime soon, so think about how you can repurpose and reuse when you have to use them. When you’re done with plastic items, try to recycle everything. Check with your local waste management company to see what types of plastic can be recycled.
Install a Filtrol. The Filtrol laundry filter captures 89% of microplastics released during your wash cycle. This simple solution will keep thousands of microfibers from making their way into the environment. Click here to buy now.