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We’re all trying to be all zero waste and eco-friendly running away from plastic 24×7.
But what can we do when plastic is where we least expect it? When we think we’re doing something nice that turns out to be bad for the environment?
And the environmental impact is not everything. How will microplastics affect our health in the long run? It’s too early to tell and I’m not a doctor, but it can’t be good, don’t you agree?
Let’s go over some things that we use in our daily lives and that contain sneaky plastic and what to use instead.
This topic was breaking news a couple of weeks ago and threw the world for a loop.
Many companies use a thingy called polypropylene to close the tea bags. This makes it impossible to compost (because they have plastic) or recycle (because that plastic, even if it’s recyclable, is ‘stuck’ to the bag) them.
Researchers have also found that these bags release around 11.6 billion microplastics and 3.1 billion nanoplastics into your cuppa when they touch the hot water.
And think about this: before this estimate, it was thought that we eat on average 50,000 microplastics annually – and breathe other 50,000 or so.
There are some brands making plastic-free tea bags, but I have another suggestion for you.
Use this instead
Three words: loose leaf tea. It tastes better, it’s more econmical, you can find more variety of flavors and it’s crap-free.
Learn more about where to find great direct trade tea in this post.
Dish Washing Sponges
You know the yellow and green every household has.
One day I was eating my morning oatmeal when I found a few teenie tiny green particules floating in my porridge. that day, in that instant, I decided that those sponges would never touch my kitchen utensils.
and thiese are microplastics that go down the drain directly
Use this instead
These are all long-lasting biodegradable sponges and scrubs that clean like heaven – they work best with solid dish soap.
Are you telling me I’ve spent my childhood chewing on pieces of plastic? Well, yeah.
There’s a plastic-free way to make chewing gum using the natural rubber from a tree called chicle tree (fun fact: chicle means chewing gum in Spanish #themoreyouknow).
But at some point we decided to add polyethylene and polyvinyl acetate, and some other scary ingredients to make them. No biggie.
Oh, and actually we’re not quite sure whether these things are toxic or not.
Use this instead
- Falim – made of the resin of the mastic tree, common in Turkey and Greece (they use it to make ice cream, too!)
- Simply gum
Glass bottle caps
The metallic caps on your bottled fizzy drink? If you take a close look, you’ll see that there is this soft silicone-y layer.
This is polyethylene, used to prevent the metal from contaminating your drink. Yummy.
The good news is you can recycle them. Just recycle them with the rest of your metal, the plastic layer will burn when the metal is processed.
How to avoid them?
We’re not going to give up our bubbly fizzy drinks, let’s be realistic. I guess we just have to wait until people in the bottle biz realize that they can do better and find an alternative to this plastic.
In the meantime, grab a bottle of Rose. We have no problem with corks here.
Maybe this is more obvious in pads – the sticky lining from the bottom feels pretty plasticky.
But tampons always have some hidden plastic – and not only the ones with plastic applicators. It seems they are too small to have hidden plastic somewhere. But turns out many brands put a plastic layer around the cottony core to make it more compact, and/or on the string to make it stronger.
This is supposed to make the whole ordeal easier and more comfortable. But EW.
Use this instead
Do you need a new reason to quit smoking? Then keep reading.
18 billion cigarettes are bought every.single.day. And many people think that the filters on the cigarettes are recyclable or biodegradable.
But they’re actually made of a plastic fiber called cellulose acetate, exactly the same thing they were using in the 50s when companies started using filters.
This filter takes some of the chemicals so the smoker doesn’t ‘swallow’ too much tar and nicotine, and the chemicals from the cigarette get stuck in there.
So when you toss the butt, it will:
- pollute the waters with toxic chemicals. And some marine animals will eat them – have you read this post about ocean plastic pollution?
- degrade until it turns into a ton of tiny microplastics. And we all know how terrible terrible those are.
So…what about electronic cigarettes? Are they the solution?
Actually no! The cartridge from e-cigarettes is rarely recyclable – it always depends on where you live.
The first generations of e-cigarettes were 100% single-use, and they were completely made of plastic. And to this day – almost 20 years after they appeared – they are one of the main items found in beach clean-ups!
How to avoid this?
I tell you this because I love you: don’t smoke, it’s terrible.
But if you do, use biodegradable filters.
All that glitters is not gold. Sometimes it’s just shiny plastic.
Glitter is actually an extremely pollutant microplastic that we, humans, produce. Intentionally. Like, seriously.
No matter if you use it often as part of your makeup look, just occasionally to go to parties and festivals, or if you use it to do arts and crafts: traditional glitter is crap.
How to avoid it?
Thankfully, there’s this thing called Bioglitter and it’s what dreams are made of – oh, and it’s made of cellulose.
Did you know about hidden plastic before?
It’s actually terrifying in how many products it can be found, don’t you think so?
I hope you dive in and make these changes, they are preeeety easy, and you’ll be saving a lot of plastic from the landfill very fast.