We’re all well aware of the presence of plastic around us. We know how harmful single-use plastic can be, but this is just plastic that is visible to us. Plastic has gone way beyond our imaginations and has creeped into places which are humanly unimaginable, including the air we breathe. Plastic has, like wildfire, spread into our everyday activities to such a wild extent that we unknowingly end up with a heap of plastic every single day, on an individual basis. This ignorance has to be corrected with tiny steps taken everyday. Awareness about these 8 listed items will help you get a clearer picture of the plastic mega-world we are living in and take conscious steps accordingly for yourself and for our planet.
1. Chewing gums have plastic
Chewing gum is basically just plastic made to look pretty so you have no problem chewing onto plastic all day long. Hush, it's a secret ingredient in most gums which is why instead of boasting about it, they just mention “gum base” on the label. Chewing gums have a gum base that is majorly made of polymers, plasticizers and resins. Polymers add to the stickiness and stretchiness of the chewing gum whereas the plasticizers contribute to the flexibility and reduce the brittleness.
Maximum chewing gum brands available in the market today have plastic in them. However, if you are a gum lover, luckily there are still some ethical companies out there. Find these companies in your countries and if they do not include any suspicious contents, it's the brand for you .
2. Face & Body Wash has plastic beads
The tiny quirky looking colourful beads that are meant to exfoliate your skin off of its dead skin, is actually exfoliating the marine world off of their organs. The tiny harmless-looking beads get washed down the drain and due to their tiny size, they eventually seep their way into the ocean bodies. If you’ve ever had a chance to feed a fish, you will notice that these beads of microplastic look a lot like fish food. On digestion of these microplastics, fishes or other marine creatures suffer from blocked digestive systems and damaged tissues, which ends up killing them slowly.
If our morning routine is killing living creatures, it is time to change some tools. In order to stop using these microplastic-oriented face and body washes, look for words like “Polypropylene” and “Polyethylene” on the label of content. If these are present, it's time to switch to natural scrubbers or companies which support ethical and natural practices.
3. Water inside a plastic bottle has dissolved plastic
When we were kids, we were taught in science class to not drink water that is kept in a utensil for long, especially plastic and glass. The science behind the idea was that when it is kept for long, the toxins or micro-particles from the utensil may leech into our drink and cause great harm to our body. More than often, bottled water contains these toxins because let’s face it, they were not bottled yesterday with fresh spring water. Heat only makes it worse, it helps make the dissolution process faster and poisons the water. BPA and other toxins make their way into your bloodstream when such water is consumed. You must be thinking why you’re still okay after drinking out of a plastic water bottle almost all of your lifetime, that is because these microplastics do not cause immediate harm but they keep on accumulating into your system and deteriorate the body and can lead to a variety of health issues.
Investing into a reusable water bottle and carrying one everywhere you go, is probably the safest bet.
4. Air has plastic fumes
It is no secret that when you burn something its content gets loose in the air around us. When you burn plastic or other waste that is made of plastic, toxic chemicals are released in the air around us in the form of fumes and even tiny particles that keep on floating in the air, commonly known as ash. Believe it or not we are unknowingly burning plastic every time we drive a car. Worn down Car tires and excessive braking are responsible for microplastics being released into the atmosphere. If plastic fumes are inhaled, they increase the risk of heart diseases, respiratory side effects, headaches, organ damages etc.
In some rising cases, it is also being noticed that microfibers that get dispatched from synthetic clothing get inhaled by animals and humans and cause respiratory inflammation.
5. Fishes are high in plastic content
Surprisingly, this fact would come as least shocking to you. We are all pretty much aware of how cruel plastic has been to our oceans and to our marine animals. So much so, 90%of all fishes in the Nile river have plastic in them. It is not news that fishes die of plastic being ingested by them. Every year, we receive millions of shocking news reports stating the excessive amounts of plastic that marine life is dying from.
When these fishes get consumed, microplastics from their body make their way into your body. The best and safest way to prevent this is by going vegetarian. If this is not something you would consider, you must source your fish from a trusted source and eat only in places which provide clean and healthy food.
6. Band-Aids have plastic threads
Yes, that is correct. Most Band-Aids are single-use plastic items that must be dumped after use. The adhesive sheet is usually made of woven fabric which is made of PVC, polyethylene or polyurethane. Unless you are planning on collecting all Band-Aids and sending them to an incineration plant for them to be disposed of properly, stop buying them now. Not just this but Band-Aids are also not sustainably made and are hazardous to our health due to the various toxins that are required to make them. With digitalization, eco-friendly and plastic-free Band-Aids are easily at your disposal, even if they are not available in your city. So, make the switch and buy Band-Aids that are good for your health and for the environment.
7. Glitter has a Plastic shine
Shiny and fancy looking plastic, commonly known as glitter, is really microplastic that can be seen by naked eyes. As playful and visually appealing it may seem, it is highly hazardous for both humans and for marine life. Glitter is easily and mistakenly inhaled once it is free in the air and gets clogged in our systems. When washed down, it goes down the drain and is consumed by fishes who confuse these microplastics as their food. Although it may be a glam symbol, It is also very harmful for eyes and skin and pollutes the environment thoroughly.
8. Sea Salt is rich in Plastic
90% of the sea salts sold globally contain microplastics. It is not Rocket Science then that when our marine life and water bodies get polluted with high amounts of plastic every single year most of that plastic leaches into the water bodies. Natural that marine pollution will undoubtedly lead to the contamination of all products that come out of the sea. Microplastics in salts pose a great threat to human food safety and health. It is important to consume sea salt from sea beds that have not been polluted or from brands that exclusively claim that they practice cleaning all salt of any kind of foreign pollutants.
Microplastics and visually hidden plastics are hazardous in nature and difficult to track. It falls upon us to be more and more aware of the rising problem of plastics and keep ourselves updated with the products we use on an everyday basis. The choices that we make not only impact our way of living and our health but also that of animals all around us, the air we breathe, the water we drink and soil we grow our food in. All this shouldn’t be a cause of fearful living, let us just be smarter and increasingly aware, one step at a time.