Is Plastic Our Society's Latest Epidemic? What Is Microplastic And Why Is It Bad?

What are micro-plastics and how do they impact humans?

A microplastic particle is a tiny piece of plastic debris that has unintentionally, and intentionally, entered our environment as a result of broken-down consumer products and waste. Microplastics are quite literally everywhere, and were even found in some of the remote places on earth. Their small size makes them easily moved through the air by wind. Due to plastic’s durability, the substance is almost impossible to remove from the environment that it is occupying.

 

BPA is an industrial chemical that is found in plastic, and is linked to cancer, toxicity, and a damaged endocrine system. For the first time scientists have detected plastic in human blood, and noted that it was present in 80% of the participants they tested. It is terrifying that plastic has made so much of a presence on Earth that it has now entered the human body. The effects of plastic on our health can include reproductive, neurological, and developmental toxicity, cancer, impaired immune system, and more. 

 

Recent studies show that many consumer and commercial products contain microplastics that were intentionally added. Detergents, cosmetics, medicines, paints, diapers, and pesticides are just a few examples of the plastic-altered products that we purchase every day. Our overall health should not be getting compromised by the household products we all own and use. 

 

So, what can we do to prevent this plastic epidemic? There are strategies we can utilize in our day to day lives that will decrease the amount of plastic you are coming into contact with. The less plastic, the better.  

 

How to avoid microplastics? 

The first preventative measure is…

1- Water Filtration System  

Using a filtration system on your faucet at home will not only save you money on buying plastic water bottles, but will better your health as well. Plastic water bottles have the capacity to break down into microplastic particles which penetrate our food and water, ending up inside our bodies. Even Brita pitchers are made of plastic, which doesn’t make it any safer than avoiding it altogether. There is some microplastic still present in tap water, but it can be filtered out with a water filter. This measure will reduce plastic waste and provide you with cleaner, safer water to drink.  

Royal Berkey Gravity-Fed Filter System

 

The Royal Berkey Water Filtration System is the best micro-plastic-free water filtration system we could find. Their ionic barrier blocks harmful molecules and only lets H2O pass through.  It takes out over 200 contaminants including, heavy metals, chromium VI, heavy metals, coliform, chloramine, glyphosate and other impurities. It also prevents bacteria growth. And the most important part is that essential minerals remain in the water.

 

If you are just starting off and looking for an affordable option, LifeStraw Pitcher combines a sleek design with ease of use, and a price point of $39.

LifeStraw Home 7-cup Water Filter Pitcher

2- Glass Containers instead of Plastic for Food Storage  

 

It’s a safe assumption to say we are familiar with the classic Tupperware…made from plastic. There are better options out there to swap for considering even BPA-free plastics can release toxic chemicals if heated. Because of this, microwaving and washing plastic containers is dangerous for us. Glass cannot release any toxic chemicals when used or heated, making it one of the safest choices. Stainless steel and bamboo are two good alternative options that can be used as well.  

Glass Food Storage Airtight Containers Jars - The Beauty Doctrine

 

3- Loose-Leaf Tea 

  

As amazing Tea is and can be for your health, many Tea bags are not biodegradable, and release billions of microplastics into your cup when brewed. The best solution is switching over to loose-leaf tea or tea powders like Anima Mundi Moringa, which you can find on our website. If you don’t want the hassle of measuring out your tea, and prefer using tea bags, we have you covered. There are some National brands that DO NOT use plastic in their tea bags; such as Pukka Tea, Numi Organic Tea, Yogi Tea, and others listed on our Guide to Safe Tea Options Blog article.  

The Republic Of Tea Double Dark Chocolate Matte

 

4- Paper Packaging  

 

This preventative measure may take some convincing, but it’s certainly worth a try. Request that your favorite restaurant use paper packaging instead of plastic. The consumer holds the power in choosing which businesses to support. It is up to us to choose businesses that meet our criteria in terms of health. If it costs extra for paper packaging, then be willing to pay it in order to support health changes. Your voice and influence matters.  

100% Compostable Clamshell Takeout Food Containers

 

5- DO NOT Heat Food in Plastic  

 

This may be common knowledge to some people, but a foreign concept to others. Heating your food, or drinks, in plastic containers WILL put you at risk for consuming microplastics and compromising your health. This includes Tupperware, takeout boxes, and pre-made frozen meals. Avoid the risks by heating your food in glass containers instead.  

Best Microwave safe glass food storage containers - The Beauty Doctrine

 

6- Use Skincare Packaged in Glass Containers  

 

Your skincare is another product that is often sold and manufactured in plastic bottles that overtime, will infiltrate the product. Opting for glass packaged beauty and skincare products is the safer route. We have various beauty products with safe packaging under the Shop tab of our website. There are also many cosmetic products made with microbeads for exfoliation, however those scrubbing beads are actually visible plastic particles. Choose clean, safe, plastic-free skincare sold directly at The Beauty Doctrine. 

 

7- Opt For Digital Receipts  

 

This is a HUGE one because paper receipts are loaded with BPA microplastic in small molecules that can easily absorb into our bloodstream. Stores will usually offer you a physical receipt made of “thermal” paper. Receipts are different from normal paper and are printed using a heat process infusing a large amount of BPA. Do not handle receipts from your purchases; Opt for digital receipts instead. 

 

8- Avoid Canned & Processed Foods  

 

Canned foods were found to be lined with BPA, the chemical that has been linked to cancer and other serious health conditions. Processed foods are another dangerous suspect. Most “ready to cook” meals are served in plastic packaging, which is then heated in the microwave. We all know what happens then. Though canned and processed foods are convenient, it is worth purchasing fresh produce when you can. 

The good news is that there are a few reputable companies that have been able to package their canned goods in BPA-free cans. Here are a few of our favorites:

 

9- Opt For BPA-Free Water Bottles  

 

Lastly, if you simply cannot live without your plastic on-the-go water bottle, please find a BPA-free one and avoid putting it in the dishwasher. The best ones are usually firm plastic rather than thin or flimsy. Check the bottle for recycling codes 3,6, and 7, which are the most harmful and you want to avoid (best plastics for recycling are codes 1 and 2). Stainless steel water bottles are a great alternative that doesn’t need to be hand washed. 

 

 

Though not every one of these preventative measures can be easily incorporated, we as a clean beauty community can be aware of the dangers of plastic and start making smarter choices together. Start small and switch out your plastic water bottles for a water filter and reusable glass bottles. Each month incorporate another small change that you can make in order to protect yourself, and the environment from the ongoing plastic epidemic.  

 

 Be safe, be well, be beautiful. 

 Nadia & Grace

 

References: https://www.clientearth.org/latest/latest-updates/news/microplastics-what-are-they-and-why-are-they-a-problem/ 

 

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/mar/24/microplastics-found-in-human-blood-for-first-time 

 

https://www.news-medical.net/health/How-do-Microplastics-Affect-Our-Health.aspx 

 

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412022001258 

 

 https://www.ecowatch.com/avoid-microplastics-at-home-2655282616.html 

 

https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/2017-2-march-april/ask-mr-green/hey-mr-green-should-receipts-be-recycled  

 

https://www.plasticsoupfoundation.org/en/plastic-problem/what-is-plastic



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