What do I need to know about Microplastics?
Microplastics are small pieces of plastic less than 5 millimeters in length. Microplastics can be damaging to people and the planet. Nearly every environment on Earth has been found to contain microplastics including our oceans, lakes, waterways, soil, and air. Every person has microplastics in their body.
The question is not if the food and liquids we drink contain microplastics, but how much. The average person consumes a credit card worth of plastic every week. Small microplastics called microbeads were once specifically manufactured for personal care products like toothpaste and facial washes.
In 2015, The Microbead-Free Waters Act was signed into law, banning the direct production of microbeads in personal care products. Since 2018, personal care products have been free of microbeads. Many individuals assume their cosmetics are free of microplastics since this act was signed into law; however, that is far from the case.
Liquid microplastics or the microplastics that leech out of plastic packaging is still a concern for individuals. Bisphenol-a, bisphenol-b, and phthalates are just some of the compounds that can leech or release from the packaging. Over time the months that a product is stored in plastic packaging will result in an increased concentration of microplastics in the package. This is similar to how microplastics will increase drastically when water is stored in a plastic water bottle. The best option for personal care products is to opt for low waste or zero waste packaging that has little to know plastic.
Some ways to reduce your exposure to microplastics include using products packaged in aluminum, glass, or paper with a plastic free lining. Although right now it is impossible to live in a world free of microplastics, we can reduce the amount that we are exposed to. We also can make sure we aren’t contributing the microplastic problem in the process. Many individuals focus on cutting down on microplastics that they eat, but it is important to consider what you put on your body as well.
Continued Readings: National Geographic, The Plastic Soup Foundation, and NOAA.