Plastic In Our Oceans, Plastic In Our Bodies
Millions of tons of plastic and microplastics enter the world’s oceans each year, posing a serious health threat to
both humans and marine life. Due to its supposed disposability, plastic waste
is a worldwide problem that plagues all countries. Plastic washes up on
beaches, is digested by wildlife, enters our rivers and even infiltrates our
Each year the world produces 300 million tons of plastic and 8 million tons of this is dumped into the oceans. This is because most people see plastic as disposable and so 50% of all plastic is used one time and then thrown in the garbage (1).
Plastic bags are the biggest problem, with over 500 billion plastic bags being used annually. That's 1 million bags a minute! Most plastic bags are said to have a 15 minute ‘working life’. Plastic bottles are another big problem. Some statistics suggest that each person uses around 300 bottles per year, with 14% of all that waste coming from plastic bottles – and that's not including plastic caps and labels (2)!
What are the Effects of Plastic on Marine Life?
Everybody knows the sad image of a turtle with its head trapped in fish netting. In fact, animal entanglement is one of the biggest issues with fishing lines, plastic netting, plastic bags, balloons and string being the worst of it. The numbers are unknown, but around 15,000 sea turtles become entangled each year in Australia alone (1).
Another issue is that 90% of seabirds eat plastic. This affects their digestive system and can cause blockages in the gut and intestines. These plastics then release chemical toxins that can cause hormonal problems (1). Fish, shellfish and sea mammals also ingest plastic in the form a small or microscopic particles called microplastic. Plastic does eventually break down in the ocean and those smaller pieces are infiltrating all aspects of the sea environment and entering our food chain (2).
What are the Effects of Ocean Plastic on Human Health?
Have you ever seen warnings dissuading a pregnant woman from eating certain types of seafood? Well, when sea life ingests microplastics these sit in the gut of the sea life and leave trace amounts of toxins inside. This means that when humans eat that seafood, they are also ingesting those toxins (2). In 2010, it was discovered that BPA and BPS from plastic can penetrate the placenta, thus affecting the growth and development of unborn infants (3). The endocrine system can also become affected, causing problems in male and female fertility, early puberty, stress, hormonal tumours, breast and prostate cancer as well as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) (5).
Unfortunately, these microplastics have ended up in rivers and waterways, which inevitably lead to our public water system. Small plastic particles have been found in both tap water and bottled water (2) and ingesting these particles can cause a variety of health concerns.
Ways To Reduce Plastic Waste
There are a number of ways that you can reduce your use of plastic and your disposal of this plastic:
- Take your own re-usable shopping bag to the supermarket.
- Stop buying bottled water and use a glass, stainless steel or reusable plastic bottle instead.
- Bring your own mug to the coffee shop.
- Cardboard is a better option than plastic.
- Avoid straws!
- Do not purchase facial scrubs and toothpaste with plastic micro-beads.
- Use a re-usable razor.
- Invest in cloth diapers.
- Use glass storage containers instead of plastic ones.
- Buy fresh fruit and vegetables rather than pre-packaged options.
- Filter your tap water instead of buying bottled water!!
Filter Your Tap Water
Because microplastics are also found in tap water, it is very important to filter your drinking water. The smallest microplastics found in tap water are approximately 2.5 microns in size. Lucky for you, Santevia’s Gravity Water System (both Countertop and Dispenser models) use a 0.3 micron filtration media that will filter out microplastics in your tap water. Plus by purchasing a Gravity Water System Fluoride Filter you are reducing water bottle usage by 2,400 bottles. That's great news for you, and the environment!