Thanks to a great deal of media publicity over recent months, many are becoming more and more aware of the dangers of throw away plastic to our environment, our waterways, oceans and to our wildlife.
For once we should be grateful to the mainstream media for all the publicity that has been given to this subject by them.
We know about plastic bags and single use plastic bottles and takeaway cups but we might not be aware of "stealth microplastics"...
What are stealth microplastics?
These are other products with plastic components that have become problematic and they include:
You might not be aware that automobile and other tires are 60% plastic. Tires wear down with constant use, resulting in hundreds of thousands of powder-like plastic dust. This dust affects our air quality but also finds its way into drains, waterways and eventually the sea. It becomes another source of plastic in seas and ultimately in our own food chain.
The solution? This is not a problem that is going to be resolved easily.
We all use synthetic clothing in one form or another and of course this clothing gets added to our washing cycles. One thousand microplastic fibers
can be rinsed off a synthetic garment in a single wash, meaning that these tiny plastic fragments find their way into the water system by the millions when we use our washing machines. Being another form of plastic waste, microfibers pose yet a further major threat to wildlife.
The solution? There are solutions with this problem: (a) we can change to natural fibers for clothing; (b) manufacturers can be persuaded to start fitting washing machines with special filters; and (c) the fashion industry could develop fibers that do not release plastic during washes.
Laundry and dishwasher pods and tablets
are used in toothpaste, shampoos and exfoliating scrubs – anything in fact where an abrasive gritty action is required to get a surface area cleaner. Fortunately, the dangers of microbeads have received plenty of adverse publicity in the past few years but many might be unaware that certain detergents and disinfectants with scrubbing agents come with the same beads now being phased out or even banned in cosmetics.
The solution? The solution is for the manufacturers to be legally obliged to change to a natural material for the beads instead. One suggestion is the use of ground coconut shell.
Although the habit of smoking cigarettes is on the wane, there are still millions of cigarettes being disposed of daily. The filter in a cigarette is made from cellulose acetate, a non-biodegradable plastic. They can shed microfibers and when they have been used, give off high levels of toxins including nicotine.
A serious pollutant in the sea, cigarette butts are THE most common item recovered during beach clean ups world wide.
The solution? Apart from sensible behavior on the part of humans, the solution is difficult to imagine.
Pretty though it may look, glitter is actually a deadly tiny plastic made from PET or PVC.
The solution? The solution is to change to glitter made from (a) cellulose (from eucalyptus trees) or (b) you can use Eco Glitter instead. The biodegradable glitter is made from a certified compostable film, meaning it has passed the official requirements for compostability. The film is sustainably sourced.
These are made from a mixture of natural fibers and plastics that do not break down. Of course, it is the plastic component of wet wipes
that is the problem. Wet wipes are designed to stay wet and of course these non woven cloths do just that, staying in their original format and getting stuck in pipes and sewer machinery. They can create massive, extensive and expensive clogs. Eventually, that plastic component will make its way into waterways.
The solution? The eco friendly solution is to go back to using a cotton wash cloth which can be rinsed or washed after use.
Often thought of as being disposable, not everyone realises that many tea bags actually contain a polypropylene "skeleton" which breaks into tiny pieces when the paper of the tea bag itself breaks down in the compost or soil situation.
The solution? The solution is (a) to change to loose-leaf tea or (b) persuade tea manufacturers to switch their tea bag packaging to plastic-free.
The consumer is "king"
Most companies are only too aware that their customers are the reason they are in business and profitable. If enough customers start to make a fuss about excess packaging, the use of non recylable materials and manufacturers who are not doing their utmost to change their ways for the benefit of the environment, then things have to change.
Those companies who can change their ways, have a golden opportunity to woo and wow their customers.