7 Hidden Plastics that will Surprise You
Disclaimer: You are using plastic inadvertently every day!
Yes! You heard it right.
While sipping a cup of green tea, you also devour millions of microplastics with each cup. Hidden plastics are plastics present in an object or product but are not apparent to the naked eye when viewing or utilising it. These concealed plastics are typically layered or in the form of microplastics.
Microplastics are small particles with a diameter of fewer than five mm. This is why, more often it goes unnoticed.
Let's take a look at some common products which include hidden plastic and what we can do about it from a pragmatic perspective.
1| Cigarette Butts
As per a recent global survey, #cigarettebutts are the most common type of plastic waste found in the environment. Drink bottles, bottle caps, food wrappers, grocery bags, drink lids, straws and stirrers were the next most common items.
CBs are small and tend to go unnoticed but they are hiding almost everywhere.
Cigarette filters are made of type of plasticized cellulose acetate which take up to 10 years to completely degrade. Moreover, the chemicals they release remain in the environment for many more years beyond the life of the cigarette butt itself.
Also, 100 billion butts that are thrown off every year, can be recycled. There are numerous startups that even pay for cigarette waste collection.
Have you noticed the "cooling crystals" in the toothpaste?
The glittering particles we see in our toothpaste are tiny beads of microplastics. It can get stuck in the gums and trap germs, causing gingivitis. In certain cases, the presence of microplastics in toothpaste is undetected.
There are, however, a number of microplastic-free organic biodegradable toothpaste available in the market.
3| Chewing gums
Chewing gums are fun! Have you ever wondered why chewing gums are so tough to chew? It is because of the presence of plastic in it.
Chewing gums are simply plastic with flavorings with some added colors. Usually, the gum base is constructed of plastic. Not only it is bad for your health, but it's also bad for the ecosystem.
Gum stains that we litter may wind up in drains, which then filter into the ocean, depleting the marine ecology. Fortunately, there are plastic-free alternatives to traditional chewing gums.
Alternatively, instead of chewing gum, you can try flaxseed meal, chia seed, or psyllium husk powder, which are natural alternatives to chewing gum.
4| Wet wipes
Yes, we can all agree that wet wipes are a convenient way to freshen up ourselves quickly. Even though they appear to be made of paper, the majority of them are a blend of plastic. It's made from a mix of polyester and wood fibres.
They are also non-dissolvable.
Wet wipes can be conveniently replaced by reusable cloths, muslins, or flannels, which are just as convenient.
5| Vegetables and fruits
Microplastic is found in the majority of the fruits and vegetables we eat. They absorb microplastics from soil and water. The only way to avoid this is to be conscious of the problem and decrease our use of plastic. However, give it time.
Avoid buying fruits and veggies from stores and instead, start growing them in your own kitchen garden.
How do you brew a delicious cup of tea? Using a tea bag is easy. You just have to dip a tea bag in a cup of hot water.
Tea teabags you use contain tea leaves as well as 'plastic'. This is something you must believe. If you're still using tea bags on a daily basis, it's time to face reality. A very thin plastic layer called polypropylene is found in teabags.
In short, we drink 'plastic-flavored' tea on a daily basis.
So, instead of using tea bags, try making a nice cup of tea using regular tea leaves.
Laundry is a significant cause of microplastic contamination. However, it is one of the most significant contributors to microplastic pollution.
Tiny beads, which are a type of microplastic, are found in detergents. Additionally, the detergent interacts with materials, resulting in a microfibre shed.
There are alternatives!
White vinegar, baking soda, and lime juice are some natural alternatives. Non-toxic washing detergents are also available on the market.
Microplastic pollution is a concern. it is not only bad for the environment, but also for human health by causing problems like infertility, obesity, and cancer.
The influence on the marine ecosystem is the most concerning. Microplastic is accidentally consumed by marine species such as fish and turtles, who regard it as prey. They fill their stomachs with plastic and they starve to death.
It may not be possible to stop using the products mentioned above, but you may reduce your usage, reuse where possible, and strive to choose sustainable eco-friendly alternatives.