It's no secret that plastic waste is a major global issue. And while a lot of focus has been put on the impact of plastic waste on the environment, little attention has been paid to the health risks posed to humans – especially children.
A new study has found that baby poop contains microplastics, which are derived from degraded plastic products. This is worrying news, as the ingestion of these tiny particles can have serious health implications.
But, parents can take action now and start choosing plastic-free products in order to protect children and safeguard the future of our planet.
What are Microplastics?
Microplastics are tiny plastic particles measuring less than 5 millimeters in size. They infiltrate our air, water, and food, and now, they've even found their way into our babies' bodies.
The source of microplastics are the many plastic products we use in our every day lives. First, microplastics can come from the breakdown of larger plastic items, such as plastic bags, bottles, and packaging. When plastic products are exposed to the environment, such as sunlight and water, they degrade into smaller and smaller pieces, eventually forming microplastics.
In addition to the breakdown of larger plastic items, microplastics can also come from other sources, such as microbeads in personal care products, fibers from clothing and textiles, and pellets used in plastic manufacturing.
They particles get so small, they eventually become airborne. Indeed, microplastics have been found virtually in every corner of the earth.
How big is the microplastics problem?
CNN Health reports that every week we ingest about 5 grams of plastic. A study conducted by The University of Newcastle in Australia for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is the basis for the article. The study’s report, "No Plastic in Nature: Assessing Plastic Ingestion from Nature to People" revealed that people consume an average of two thousand microplastic particles every week around the world - the weight of a credit card each week.
And the new baby poop study - covered by Wired magazine - has found that baby poop contains microplastics, which are derived from degraded plastic products. The study finds that infant feces contain 10 times more polyethylene terephthalate (aka polyester) than an adult’s. This is worrying news, as the ingestion of these tiny particles can have serious health implications.
What are the health effects of microplastics?
The health effects of microplastics are still being studied, but there is some evidence that they may be harmful. It is believed that microplastics can:
Act as carriers of harmful chemicals, such as pesticides, flame retardants, and heavy metals. These chemicals can be released from the microplastics once they are inside the body, and they may have a variety of negative health effects.
Cause inflammation and oxidative stress in the body. Inflammation is a natural process that helps the body to heal, but chronic inflammation can lead to a variety of health problems. Oxidative stress is a condition in which the body's cells are damaged by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that are produced as a byproduct of normal metabolism. When there are too many free radicals in the body, they can damage cells, proteins, and DNA.
- Disrupt the endocrine system. The endocrine system is a network of glands that produce hormones that regulate a variety of bodily functions, including growth, development, and reproduction. Disruption of the endocrine system can lead to a variety of health problems, including obesity, infertility, and cancer.
It is important to note that the health effects of microplastics are still being studied, and more research is needed to determine the full extent of the risks. However, the potential for harm is significant, and it is important to take steps to reduce exposure to microplastics.
Combatting plastic waste is the only way to reduce microplastics
We all know that plastic waste is devastating to our environment, but did you know how much your personal care routine is adding to the problem?
According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the average person uses around 200-300 plastic personal care products annually, including shampoo bottles, toothpaste tubes, body wash bottles, and disposable razors. Over time, this plastic waste accumulates, and the numbers are staggering:
- In just 5 years, you could use up 1,250 plastic products, equating to 2.8-5.5 lbs of plastic.
- In 10 years, that number doubles to 2,500 plastic products, equating to 5.6-11 lbs of plastic.
- And in 20 years, you could generate a shocking 5,000 plastic products, equating to 11.2-22 lbs of plastic! How much waste is 5,000 plastic products? If you lined them up end-to-end, they would extend about 3,116 feet– that's roughly 9.5 football fields!
It's hard to believe that small plastic shampoo bottles, toothpaste tubes, and body wash bottles can add up to such a substantial amount of waste. The good news is that there's a remarkably effortless way to go plastic-free in your personal care routine. Simply switch to plastic-free shampoo bars and body bars, and you’ll be doing your part to cut-down on plastic waste.
Curbing our plastic use is the only way to decrease microplastics.
What You Can Do Now
Parents should take action now and start making plastic-free changes to their lifestyle in order to protect their children and safeguard the future of our planet.
Here are some tips for a plastic-free lifestyle:
- Bring your own reusable bags when you go shopping.
- Avoid using single-use plastics, such as straws, coffee cups, and water bottles.
- Choose products that are packaged in glass or paper instead of plastic.
- Recycle any plastic that you do use.
- Avoid buying products that contain microbeads.
- Educate your friends and family about the importance of reducing plastic waste.
- Try plastic-free personal care products.
Plastic-free Personal Products As a First Step
There are a number of ways to reduce your plastic footprint, and one of the easiest is to switch to plastic-free personal care products. You can find plenty of options for shampoo, conditioner, soap, and other products that come in eco-friendly packaging or that are entirely free of plastic.
For instance, a shampoo bar is a great alternative to plastic bottled liquid shampoo. One shampoo bar typically eliminates three plastic bottles. Switching to a solid shampoo bar product will help reduce environmental plastic pollution.
At &Better, we offer plastic-free personal care products such as shampoo bars, body scrub bars, and face cleansing bars. All our products work better than conventional brands, come with plastic-free packaging, and are 100% eco-friendly and sustainably produced. Shop now!
By making our daily routine plastic-free, we can all help to reduce the amount of plastic waste in the world and make a difference for future generations. So let's start today!