For those of us who care about the pressing issue of plastic pollution that is threatening our land and oceans, cutting down on our use of single-use plastic and ditching products that contain microplastics seems like a no-brainer.
But plastic is trickier to escape than you think. Many common products that don’t appear to contain indestructible plastics have them hiding in plain view, a testament to how dependent nearly every industry has become to the use of plastic and how widespread the issue is.
So, curious what kind of places plastic might be hiding in your life? Let’s take a look.
Ah yes, the harmless paper coffee cup right? Where could plastic be hiding in something so flimsy and simple?
Well, the secret to why your coffee doesn’t just leak right through that soft paper is a thin plastic lining of polyethylene. This plastic is technically recyclable, but cannot be recycled by traditional curbside recycling methods and must be done in a separate facility, an unsustainable solution for a single-use item.
Instead of leaning on the to-go cup, grab a reusable coffee cup, preferably one made from sustainable materials such as bamboo. Many coffee shops offer discounts for bringing in your own cup in an effort by brands to help reduce plastic waste.
If your clothes aren’t made from a plant (cotton, hemp, even bamboo), then they’re made of plastic. All synthetic fibers (nylon, rayon, acrylic, etc.) are derived from plastics. And now over 60% of clothing produced globally is made with synthetic fibers.
This is a problem for several reasons. First is the obvious; plastic never goes away. Second, every time we wash our synthetic clothing, microplastics are deposited into the water and eventually find their way into our oceans.
Wait, chewing gum contains plastic? And they let us consume it?
Yep. Before the 1960’s, chewing gum was made of all natural ingredients, but after the invention of polyethylene, it became cheaper to use synthetic substitutes to give it that “bounce”.
That means the same ingredient that lines your coffee cup and makes up your yoga mat is also being used in your chewing gum. Thankfully, there are many 100% natural gum brands emerging in the market so you can ditch the plastic stuff.
Just like coffee cups, aluminum cans contain a thin lining of epoxy or polyethylene coats the inside of the can to protect the can from corrosion and help the product maintain its freshness. This coating often contains bisphenol-a (BPA) which has been linked to many health issues in humans including diseases of the endocrine systems.
Ok, how can sea salt contain plastic? It’s completely natural, pulled straight from our oceans and allowed to dry into its naturally occurring crystal form. How is plastic getting into something so simple?
Unfortunately, due to the billions of microplastics that are flooding our oceans every year, even sea salt crystals are being corrupted by these tiny bits of plastic. A study conducted in 2018 found that up to 90% of table salt contained microplastics, all thanks to the steadily increasing amount of microplastics entering our oceans thanks to everything from beauty products to the clothes we wear.
RIO is committed to cleaning up our oceans and conserving our environment by producing sustainable products and using the proceeds to fund large-scale cleanup efforts all over the world. Click here to find out more about how your small purchases can have a big impact on ocean cleanup.