You know those tiny little exfoliant beeds found in face scrubs and toothpaste? While these microbeads may boast the ability to give you radiant skin or the brush of a lifetime, they may very well be harming our health.
Many of us have heard about the damage that microplastics like microbeads are causing to marine life. Found in many personal care items, approximately 100,000 microbeads are flushed down the drain every time you use a product that contains them. Since the particles are only about half of a millimeter in diameter, they easily pass through water filters unchanged and wind up in local waterways. Last stop? The ocean.
These plastic particles act like little toxic sponges in the marine environment, absorbing everything from heavy metals and petroleum compounds to PCBs (flame retardant chemicals). Concentrating these carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, and other harmful chemicals into one compact package, microbeads become even nastier. As animals consume these toxins, they move right up the food chain, all the way to humans.
Knowing this, the impact of microplastics in a marine environment is readily evident. But what is lesser known is that they teeny, tiny plastics could also be contaminating the air we breathe. Since microplastics have become so prevalent in our world, Professor Frank Kelly of King’s College London has posited that these particles also have the potential to get into the air we breathe.
“The particles are of a size that they are [breathable],” Kelly said. “They are increasing in number in our environment and there is a question to be asked.”
According to Kelly, when inhaled, these airborne microplastics can be carried out to the lower part of the lungs and may also affect the body’s circulation. Just as these microplastics are harmful to marine animals, they can affect the body’s circulation and cause respiratory problems down the line, much like inhaling harmful fossil fuels.
It’s time to act. Microplastics aren’t only harming marine animals, but they’re affecting our health, too. As consumers, we can help put an end to this vicious cycle by cutting microplastics out of our daily routines! You can even try making your own toothpaste and face wash!
I’m saying goodbye to microplastics. How else can I cut plastic out of my life?
While efforts are being made to remove debris from the oceans, improve recycling systems, and innovate barriers to prevent plastic from getting into waterways, we can all take action in our daily lives to stop plastic waste at the source.
“Plastic is ubiquitous in modern society and seemingly unavoidable. But is it worth risking the lives of marine species, the health of the oceans and our own future in the name of convenience? By taking steps to minimize everyday plastics in our lives, we can crush plastic at the source and give marine life a fighting chance,” says Nil Zacharias, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of One Green Planet.
If we all make an effort to identify where we use plastic and actively look for alternatives, we can drastically cut down on the amount of plastic pollution that finds its way into the oceans.
As the leading organization at the forefront of the conscious consumerism movement, One Green Planet believes that reducing everyday plastics from our lives is not about giving up anything or sacrificing convenience, but rather learning to reap the maximum benefit from the items you use every day while having the minimum impact.
Let’s #CrushPlastic! Click the graphic below for more information.
Image Source: Oregon State University/Flickr