If someone asked you if you’ve ingested your weekly dose of plastic, you’d probably scold them for assuming that would ever be a wise decision. BUT what if I told you that the average person consumes the equivalent of a credit card in plastic in a week?
That’s pretty scary… And disgusting!
We are consuming close to 102,000 tiny pieces of plastic each year and most come from you guessed it – water containing micro beads…
Some other sources are beer, salt ans shellfish (I mean we know they are the filter feeders of the ocean).
Alec Taylor, Head of Marine Policy at WWF, said:
“Plastic is polluting our planet in the deepest ocean trenches, but now we know that it’s also polluting our own bodies, through the food we eat and the water we drink.
“This report must serve as a wake-up call to the UK Government – we don’t want plastic in our oceans, and we don’t want it on our plates.”
Plastic has become such a norm that it’s even been discovered at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, locked in sea ice and topping the peaks of the French Pyrenees. If those facts don’t scare you, then this might:
Researchers at the University of Newcastle in Australia analysed over 50 studies based on plastic consumption in people before compiling their findings.
Their studies found that on average, a person consumes 1,769 particles a WEEK from water, 182 from shellfish, 11 from salt and 10 from beer and in Europe, roughly 72% of their water supply now contains plastic. Shockingly, 2 plastic fibres per 500ml of water on average.
Approximate time taken for common materials to decompose
Plastic bag: 20 – 1,000 years
Plastic bottle: 450 years
Polystyrene cup: 50 years
Plastic-lined paper cup: 30 years
Glass bottle: 1,000,000 years
Disposable nappy: 450 years
Aluminium can: 80 – 200 years
Cigarette butt: 1 – 5 years
Waxed milk carton: 3 months
Paper towel: 2 – 4 weeks
Dr Thava Palanisami, microplastics researcher at the University of Newcastle, said:
“While the awareness of microplastics and their impact on the environment is increasing, this study has helped to provide an accurate calculation of ingestion rates for the first time.
“Developing a method for transforming counts of microplastic particles into masses will help determine the potential toxicological risks for humans, moving forward.”
With the long term effects of plastic consumption unknown, they have so far proven the inhalation of these small fibres to be an irritant to the respiratory tract, with some types of plastic harboring harsh chemicals, one can understand that the ingestion of these plastics could affect sexual function, fertility, genetic mutations and most certainly aggravate cancers.
As one can imagine, airborne plastic fibres could also bring along a host of pollutants, with Britain already taking 15 billion plastic bags out of circulation by simply imposing a 5p tax on all plastic bags, alongside this, banning plastic micro-beads in cosmetics.
Additionally, plastic straws will not be served unless asked for by customers.
The UK government is also considering a deposit return scheme on plastic bottles and they have already outlawed cotton buds which have plastic stems and with 10% of the current 1.8 billion produced annually, it’s a rather good measure.
On top of that, 7.7 billion water bottles are sold annually, with less than half making it into recycling, an estimated 16 million bottles are are binned DAILY in the UK alone, with the water industry claiming the figures are closer to 2.1 billion in a single year.
Virgin plastic production has skyrocketed since the 1950’s, growing by roughly 4% a year and if you think about it – that equates to 1/3 of all plastic waste finding its way into nature, with 8 MILLION TONNES seeking refuge in our oceans EVERY YEAR. The amount of plastic would surely outweigh all our fish by 2050 if this continues?
The sad reality is that it’s not just floating around there either. Animals get ensnared, tangled and throttled by all the debris, consuming it to the point that their digestive systems shut down, die from compromised immune systems and toxins and their entire breeding cycles are harmed in the process.
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