Plastics have only really be around for about 100 years and they were a huge innovation when first created. They tend to be light weight and very durable. However, plastics have seeped more and more into our daily lives, and items that will not degrade for hundreds of years are now discarded after only a few minutes of use.
Plastic waste can have many negative effects on our environment, wildlife, and health:
Ready to start decreasing single-use plastics? Try some of these suggestions:
Plastic pollution isn't just the bottle we see floating on the ocean, or the potato chips wrapper in the storm drain. Plastics break down into smaller and smaller pieces and can be consumed by animals all the way up the food chain.
Clothing not made from natural fibers, like polyester, spandex, and acrylic, shed small plastic particles and fibers every time they are washed. These fibers end up in our waterways and oceans.
Many products also have microbeads, tiny particles of plastic, added to them to aid in exfoliation or other cosmetic purposes. These little beads often get past water filtration and treatment plants and make it to open water. They have high surface areas and absorb toxins around them. They are then consumed by small wildlife, which are consumed by larger wildlife, and so on, concentrating the toxin-filled plastic in larger animals like apex predators (including humans).
Some companies have voluntarily removed their plastic microbeads and replaced them with wax or other natural alternatives.
Using an app like Beat the Microbead can help us identify which products contain microbeads before purchase.
Adding a Cora Ball or a Guppyfriend washing bag to our laundry during every wash can help catch and remove a significant amount of microfiber pollution before it can make it to our waterways.
Have a question? Ask A Librarian.