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6 Ways We Are Consuming Plastic

Human consumption of microplastics

Human consumption of plastic is not a myth

Did you know that you are eating plastic? I'm not talking about a literal plastic-sandwich, but through microplastics. Microplastics are tiny particles of plastics, less than 5mm long. Some of these are so small we can't see them with a human eye. These plastics have broken down from larger pieces over time.

We are eating them.

Now, this is not a new story. We know we have been consuming plastic for a while but what is new is just how much and how. A recent study has opened our eyes to exactly what microplastic we have been ingesting.  


1. Microplastics are in plastic water bottles

Ok so no huge surprise that plastic water bottles leach plastic, and one of the reasons why you should switch to a reusable water bottle. However this next statistic blew my mind. On average, in every gram of water in a water bottle, there are 94.37 microplastic particles. If you drink an entire 500ml bottle you could be drinking 47,000 microplastic particles. I'll let that one sink in. 


2. Plastic is in the air that we breathe

Plastic does not just enter our bodies through out waterways, we also breathe in micro particles. Unfortunately you can't simply move to the countryside. Microplastics rain down through our air both in cities and in the mountains. Much of the fibres we are breathing in fact come from synthetic fabrics like clothing, so often more particles are found inside a house than outside. 


3. Plastic is in alcohol

Yes, you read that right. No more pints without risk of plastic ingestion, plastic particles are found in alcohol. They are found at a staggeringly high level of 32.27 particles per gram. Anyone fancy a pint of lager with a side of microplastics....?


Microplastics on a beach


4. We are drinking plastic in our tap water too

You thought you'd got away with it! We did too... but unfortunately microplastics are found in tap water as well as bottled water. The number of particles are much less when running from your tap but they are still there with an average of 4.24 plastic particles per gram. 


5. Our seafood contains plastic

With high quantities of plastic in our oceans, it's unsurprising that plastic has found its way into the food chain. Small micro particles are ingested by marine life and they make their way up the food chain. Depending on which type of seafood you are eating, it could be a highly contaminated species. However, the microplastic particles still rank much lower than a plastic water bottle with an average of 1.48 particles per gram.


6. Plastic is found in sugar and salt

If you don't eat seafood like us, you're still not safe! Both sugar and salt - you know the food items you likely consume every day - also contain microplastic particles. It's got me thinking twice about adding sugar to my next cuppa.


Why is this important? While there is still a gap in the research to the exact effect of different plastics in our bodies, I can't help but wonder if this can be a good thing. With the estimated average consumption of microplastics at 74,000 - 121,000 particles per person, I'm not sure I want to wait to find out the effects!

Plastic isn't just in the things that we consume. Learn more about everyday items that contain plastic, and limit your exposure by switching to plastic-free products.  

Are any of these a surprise to you? Let us know in the comments.



1 comment

  • Interesting write-up. Will do my bit to restrict use of plastic. As they say every little bit helps.


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