How often do you read the contents label on the products that you buy, whether it’s body scrub, face-mask or toothpaste? A cursory glance here and there to check it wasn’t too chock full of chemicals, or just a quick check of the price tag? You wouldn’t be alone, because that’s exactly what I used to do.
But over the last six months I’ve become terribly aware of the state of our oceans, and the damage that our plastic waste is doing to the entirety of our ocean environment. Which, by the way, makes up a whopping 70% of planet Earth!
Our plastic consumption as a whole is horrendous, with a huge part of the problem being the single-use plastics that you find all around you every single day. These are things like plastic straws, plastic cutlery, plastic shopping bags, plastic price tags, etc, etc, etc. We’re so used to seeing and using them, and they’re so much a part of our normal lives, that we don’t even see them anymore. And when we’re done using them we pop them in the bin and forget all about them.
But where do they go after we’ve popped them in the bin?
The sad truth of the matter is that a huge proportion of our plastic ends up floating about in our oceans, polluting the waters, and becoming a not-so-nutritious food for unsuspecting sea creatures.
Yeah. It’s gross. And it’s a big problem.
But what I wanted to talk to you about today was about just one, or you could say lots, of tiny parts of this problem that make a big big difference.
Micro plastics, or micro beads, are teeny tiny little pieces of plastic that are put into things like body scrub and toothpaste, so that they rub against your skin, cleaning your pores and really working to scrub away any dirt. Great idea right, improve the product?
In theory yes, but it’s been done all wrong. Simply using something like broken up pieces of shell rather than micro-plastics could have made a the whole difference.
Because once you’ve used your product, every single one of those micro plastics gets washed down the sink, and where do you think they end up after that?
Because they’re so small micro plastics slip through many sewage filtration systems, escaping the traps that were put into place to try and curb the tide of yuk that we naively flush or wash away.
Now you might be thinking, what harm can such a small piece of plastic possibly do?
The answer is, a lot. And it’s not just one small of piece, it’s billions and billions and billions of pieces of plastic every day, from all over the world. And like with all things, strength comes in numbers.
So what effect do micro plastics actually have?
Because they’re so small micro plastics are frequently ingested by all kinds of marine life. These plastics don’t go away, they don’t break down in the creatures stomachs, they build up and up, causing numerous health problems for almost every single species in the sea. In small species, especially many types of coral, bottom feeders, and worms, the tiny pieces of plastic are indistinguishable from the pieces of plankton that they would normally eat. These creatures feed on just as much plastic as plankton, their bodies become saturated with it, and they effectively starve to death.
No more coral reefs.
The fact that they are so readily ingested by so many species means an incredibly effective transfer of the chemicals found in plastics. Now there are many people out there telling you that plastics are perfectly safe, and sure, holding a plastic bag and wearing an item of clothing partly made from plastic might be quite fine, but inviting that same chemically created substance into your body… quite a different matter.
The reason I raise this point is because the plastics don’t stay with the little fish when the little fish becomes a bigger fish’s supper. Those plastics in the little fish transfer into the big fish, and so on, and so on, until it reaches our plate and we eat it.
By polluting the ocean, we are not just damaging such a beautiful, diverse, and incredible environment, and such a huge range of species, we are also damaging ourselves.
Plastics and micro plastics are strangling our oceans, and the beautiful creatures that live in them. Micro plastics are just one threat to these amazing places that make up such a huge part of our home planet, and we can all do that little bit more to make sure we’re helping to protect them by paying more attention to the things that we’re using and the products that we’re buying.
How do we try and steer clear of micro plastics?
Choose to buy all natural products instead, they’re better for your body too!
Shop from trusted retailers such as Lush, who do a whole plastic-free range.
And if you’re not sure, check the label for any of the following. If these chemicals are floating around in your product, then the likelihood is that it contains micro plastics.
– Polyethylene / Polythene (PE)
– Polypropylene (PP)
– Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
– Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA)
Make a sustainable lifestyle choice and shop responsibly.