The one who smelt it dealt it: The unwitting creation of micro-plastics and how to put a stop to it5 min readReading Time: 4 minutes
Today Owliver is here with a comprehensive guide on how to save the world. Sort of. We’re here to help you (and your friends after you convince them) to stop adding microplastics to our atmosphere as well as our oceans.
But before we get to (almost) saving the world. Let’s take a moment to get to know the enemy: Microplastics.
Yup, its bad!
Wow, that wasn’t the most pleasant experience, but it’s true: microplastics are terrible. These tiny fragments are everywhere, from our oceans to the air that we breathe every day. These minuscule pieces of our roads, tires, soda bottles, plastic bags and endless products can travel across continents in a single day!!
Until now, scientists assumed that microplastics were concentrated in the oceans where they entered the food chain and attracted more pollutants. But now, they have found that these pesky little pieces have a knack for globetrotting. Moreover, they take thousands of years to finally biodegrade, so they don’t just take one world trip. No, they’re simply spiralling around in a bit of a merry-go-round fashion.
And what’s more, is that it’s no small amount. About 18% of our plastic ends up in the environment and eventually gets broken down into microplastics. Take a look around you for a moment. How much plastic do you think you’ve used in just one day? Now, multiply that by 7 billion, then add a whole lot more plastic to it. 18% of that is, well, a lot.
And what’s more, is that it’s no small amount. About 18% of our plastic ends up in the environment and eventually gets broken down into microplastics. Take a look around you for a moment. How much plastic do you think you’ve used in just one day? Now, multiply that by 7 billion, then add a whole lot more plastic to it. 18% of that is, well, a lot. The fact that we don’t know how these microplastics affect our lungs and digestive systems when they undoubtedly enter them isn’t promising.
So, where are these microplastics coming from?
Most of the airborne microplastics are generated by the friction created by tires and the road. This is particularly true for the jam packed roads that we see here in India. But humans, as we know, don’t create simple problems. There are about a million ways in which we add microplastics to our ecosystems. We add them through our plastic packets, our cosmetic products, our clothes, our soft drinks, our shoes… and the list goes on.
Yup, a lot of these things on the list are probably very familiar to you. So, without further ado, let’s hop into what you can do to prevent yourself from adding to the swirls of microbeads circling our planet.
Check the tags on your clothes. Most of our clothes have plastics in them!! Fabrics account for one-fourth of the microplastic pollution in the world, but the good news is that it’s an easy switch to make. All you have to do is check your clothes, make sure you aren’t buying polyester and voila, you’ve played a part in helping with this crisis!
Check your cosmetics. I don’t mean the fancy stuff like lipsticks and foundation, although those can often be microplastic carriers as well. I am talking about everyday products such as face wash and body wash. First, their plastic packaging could eventually break down into microplastics. Second, many cosmetics have refreshing beads or fragments that give you a nice feeling as they run against your skin. However, sometimes this scrub down comes at a cost. The tiny beads are really just plastic. The plastic microbeads gently rub off your dead skin and make you feel fresh and wonderful. Unfortunately, one day these microbeads will come right back and settle in your stomach and lungs.
The good news: microbeads are on their way out. Natural replacements are available all over the market. All you have to do is check the label of your products and look out for the word microbeads. The moment you see it, leave the store and run as far as you can.
And if you don’t feel like going to that extreme, just pick another natural product. Preferably a bar of soap wrapped in paper. But if not, do as much as you can and your efforts will go a long way.