For Global Recycling Day we’re answering the question: What are Microplastics?
We all know what plastic is and that there are different kinds of plastic, but did you know that the plastics we know and use in our daily lives become teeny tiny and become plastics known as “microplastics”?
These microplastics are little pieces that individually measure at less than 5mm (which is even smaller than a lobster larva)! These little pieces of plastic are around because plastic never fully disintegrates - that plastic bottle Diet Coke you had for lunch today? It’ll take about 450 years for it to decompose. Now imagine all of us finishing off a refreshing bottle of soda and all of those bottles breaking down into teeny, tiny pieces of plastic and ending up in the ocean. The amount of microplastic in the ocean is staggering - and it can be found everywhere, floating on the surface, floating beneath the surface, and resting on the bottom of the sea floor.
A type of this microplastic, microbeads, can be found in many beauty products and toothpaste. These microbeads (depending on the product) can make their way into our bodies, eventually being expelled (everyone goes to the bathroom!) into our water filtration systems, into our waterways and eventually the ocean.
Microplastics affect all of us. We use plastic items (or products with plastic in them), we recycle (say into our recycled plastic bracelets) or throw them away - they end up in landfills, in waterways, in the ocean and are ingested by our friends in the sea, which (if you eat seafood), are then ingested by us. And if you don’t eat seafood, we know you’ve seen the photos of seabirds who’ve died with plastic in their bellies.
We know this is dark stuff, friends. But it’s something we have to talk about. If you recycle, please continue to do so and follow your town’s recycling rules. If you haven’t started recycling yet, now is the perfect time. Today IS Global Recycling Day after all!
Let’s make some waves and help our planet breathe a little cleaner.
Brown, Natalia (2020, December 29). All About Plastics. Debris Free Oceans.