Ways You Could Be Ingesting Plastic
In today’s world, plastic is not just around us; it’s often inside us. Unbeknownst to many, the average person is ingesting plastic in significant amounts regularly. This ingestion primarily comes from microplastics, tiny fragments of plastic smaller than five millimetres, which have infiltrated our food chain and water sources.
From the seafood we consume, which may have been exposed to plastic-laden waters, to the bottled water we drink, and even through the air we breathe, microplastics have become an insidious part of our daily intake. In this article, we dive into the most common pathways through which these tiny plastic particles make their way into our bodies and the potential impacts they could have on our health.
Plastic In Seafood and Fish
Many marine species ingest microplastics in the ocean, which can then enter the human food chain through seafood consumption.
Shellfish tend to accumulate microplastics in their tissues because they filter and consume microplastic-laden water.
If you need another reason to stop eating seafood then microplastic is definitely something to consider! If you want to learn more about how destructive and polluting the seafood industry is I recommend watching Seaspiracy.
From Wearing Plastic Clothing
Much of today’s fashion is made from synthetic materials like polyester, nylon, and acrylic, which are essentially forms of plastic. Every time we wash these materials, they shed microplastic fibres into the water, which can end up in our oceans and even our food chain. The tiny fragments of plastic become airborne and we are inhaling them when breathing.
To mitigate this, consider investing in a washing bag designed to catch these fibres, or transitioning your wardrobe to include more natural fabrics like cotton, hemp, and bamboo, which don’t release plastic fibres when washed.
Bottled Water Microplastic
Not only are plastic bottles creating a huge amount of unnecessary plastic waste, studies have found that some bottled water contains microplastics, likely from the plastic packaging. This study shows 93% of bottled water tested was contaminated with microplastic which makes ingesting plastic nearly a sure thing if you drink from plastic bottles.
Using Plastic Containers for Food and Drink
Microplastics can leach from plastic containers and bottles, especially when heated or scratched. Did you know that the term ‘microwave safe‘ isn’t as clear-cut as we might think? According to CSIRO, there are no standardised guidelines for what makes plastic microwave-safe, and some additives in plastic can even migrate into your food when heated!
Swap Your Plastic Containers To Glass
We love this 4 piece set of glass containers with bamboo lids from Biome
- Sustainable, panda-friendly bamboo lid.
- Strong, heat-resistant borosilicate glass base.
- Quality airtight silicone seal to keep food fresh.
- Glass container base is microwave, freezer, oven and dishwasher safe. Bamboo lid is handwash only.
Using A Plastic Chopping Board
Plastic chopping boards are a staple in many kitchens, but as they wear down, tiny plastic particles can break off into your food. Every slice and dice may be shaving off minuscule pieces that can be ingested.
Sea salt, and to a lesser extent, rock and lake salt, can contain microplastics due to environmental contamination.
Some studies have detected microplastics in commercial beer, possibly from the water or processing equipment used.
Plastic In Tea Bags
Many of us turn to tea for its health benefits, but certain plastic tea bags may release billions of microplastic particles into your cup. Choosing loose-leaf tea with a metal strainer, or brands that use natural fibres for their bags, can be a simple yet effective swap.
Inhaling Airborne Plastic Particles
Urban areas are particularly prone to airborne microplastics, which come from various sources like car tires, synthetic clothing fibres, and even degraded waste. While it’s nearly impossible to avoid these particles entirely, using air purifiers and fostering green spaces can help reduce their prevalence in your immediate environment.
Consuming Food with Plastic Packaging
When you unwrap a snack, you might accidentally ingest plastic! Foods wrapped in plastic, especially those with high-fat content, are prone to absorbing microplastics from their packaging. Whenever possible, choose products packaged in glass or paper, or buy in bulk using your own containers.
Drinking Tap Water
Microplastics have been found in tap water in various countries, though the levels and health implications are still under investigation. Water treatment removes much of the plastic, but up to 100-600 microplastic particles per litre may remain in tap water.
Eating Processed Foods
Highly processed foods are not only a concern for your health for other reasons but also for their microplastic content. During production and packaging, these foods can pick up microplastics, which are then ingested upon consumption. Steering clear of processed foods in favour of whole, unpackaged foods is better for your health and the planet.
How To Stop Eating Plastic?
You can take measures to minimise your risk of ingesting plastic with things like not eating and drinking from plastic, filtering water and air and wearing plastic-free clothing.
As you can see plastic is EVERYWHERE! The only way we can stop this getting worse is to stop producing so much plastic.