Prevent microplastic pollution with these 10 tips

Microplastics – you might recognize the word from the news, but what exactly are microplastics and how can you prevent microplastic pollution? By this point, we all know plastic pollution is wreaking havoc on our environment and the animals who inhabit it. Microplastics are a direct result of that pollution.

What are microplastics?

Microplastics are tiny bits of plastic that are under five millimetres in length. For reference, that’s about the size of a sesame seed, or smaller. They can come from two sources – either larger pieces of plastic that degrade over time into microplastics or from microbeads, which are tiny bits of polyethene plastic. Microbeads are found in facial and body scrubs, but are outlawed in many areas, like England, Scotland, and the US.

Microplastics come from fibres, beads, and small broken down pieces of plastic. Aside from the above, there is one big offender I haven’t mentioned: synthetic clothing. The washing of synthetic textiles has been deemed the main source of primary microplastics that end up in the oceans. 

The problem

Microplastics are now found everywhere – lakes, rivers, oceans, mountains, beaches – nowhere is safe from them. We haven’t studied microplastics long enough to know their true effects on the human body. One study in Singaporestudied 275 pieces of microplastic from local beaches and found over 400 types of bacteria. Microplastics can be found in the water we drink and the fish we eat, so though we do not yet know the effects, we are all consuming it.

What we do know is the effect on marine life. According to National Geographic, “Experiments show that microplastics damage aquatic creatures, as well as turtles and birds: They block digestive tracts, diminish the urge to eat, and alter feeding behaviour, all of which reduce growth and reproductive output. Their stomachs stuffed with plastic, some species starve and die.”

A save showing the extent of microplastic pollution

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How to prevent microplastic pollution

Clearly, we must do what we can to prevent microplastic pollution. Here are 10 tips you can put in place to help the cause:

1. Buy clothing made of natural fibres and avoid synthetic materials such as nylon, polyester, rayon, spandex, and modal. For more on natural clothing, check out my blog post.

2. Use a Guppyfriend Washing Bag when washing synthetic clothing – though it’s not 100% effective, this bag catches microplastics before they can enter the water system. 

3. Bring your own reusable straw, cutlery, or chopsticks when dining out, so you avoid plastic utensils and straws altogether.

4. Buy plastic free bathroom products, like shampoo and conditioner bars, swap pump to soap bars, and plastic free cosmetics

5. Opt for a plastic free period cup or reusable period underwear, rather than tampons and pads. More on that here.

6. Choose products in glass or aluminum containers over those in plastic.

7. Make your own cleaning products at home by reusing old plastic bottles or glass bottles. This way, you’ll avoid buying new cleaning products in plastic bottles that will one day become microplastics.

8. Shop at a bulk store and use your own containers, rather than buying products packaged in plastic. 

9. Bring your own reusable coffee cup, rather than getting a takeaway cup.

10. Avoid plastic bags by bringing your own reusable version.

What steps will you take to prevent microplastic pollution? In addition to these tips, you can always make your voice heard by signing petitions, getting vocal online, and educating your friends and family.

Leave a comment below and let me know what you’re committing to!

If you’ve found this blog helpful, you can support me and the site by buying me a cup of tea (I’ll put it in a reusable mug, of course!) or sharing the site with a friend. Your support means the world to me!

Mia Hadrill
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