More than 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the oceans each year. This adds to the estimated 150 million tonnes that currently circulate our marine environments. Microplastics are a key contributor to this astounding statistic.
Microplastics are a bit of a sustainability buzz word – you hear the word littered throughout the internet, showing us they are everywhere. In our waterways, our fields, forests, lakes and particularly our oceans, polluting the Earth in their immense numbers.
You’ve probably read stories about them found in wildlife too; in birds and fish particularly, eventually making their way into humans.
But what exactly constitutes a microplastic?
The dictionary definition
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the term microplastic as “a very small fragment or piece of plastic that is five millimetres or smaller in size”. Around 75% of microplastics are made from other plastic items breaking down – the rest are in the form of microbeads, synthetic fabrics and even car tyres.
Think of it this way: Any plastic item you see discarded improperly (and even properly through recycling streams, there is a risk of that going awry too!) will likely break down into smaller and smaller pieces. Whether that be through sun damage, or being physically tossed around, ripped, torn by wildlife. Or they will enter our water waste streams through our washing machines, too small to be filtered out consistently, ending up in our rivers and on to our oceans.
These smaller and smaller pieces probably seem like a non-issue, right? Wrong – the chemicals they leech out into the natural world are toxic, and more and more wildlife is showing up with microplastics in their system.
Scientists have even recently discovered microplastics embedded deep in the Arctic ice. A deeply concerning discovery, considering the length of time that Arctic ice takes to form.
We must act now – by reducing what plastic we do use, it means that less and less will end up in the environment. Choose to live plastic-free with our fantastic range of sustainable swaps:
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