The avoidance of microplastics and plastics is omnipresent as the topic has an extraordinary impact on our planet. Here are some tips for a life without plastic.
Author: Viola Haderlein
Microplastics and plastic avoidance are omnipresent. We look into the question of how harmful microplastics are and give tips for living without plastic & living sustainably.
In 1997, a new continent was discovered in the Pacific Ocean. Its discoverer was Charles Moore, a sailing environmental activist. The continent consisted out of a plastic garbage carpet, which was the size of India. By now, more plastic garbage strudel have been discovered in the world's oceans; the public is alarmed.
What are microplastics?
Microplastics are non-degradable plastic particles with a size between 0.1 micrometers and 5 mm. Even smaller plastic particles are called nanoplastics.
Microplastic emissions arise from the abrasion or breakdown of larger plastic products such as car tires, plastic bottles, shoe soles or when washing synthetic fibers. They are added to cleaning agents such as abrasives and detergents or as a cosmetic additive in peelings.
How do microplastics get into the environment?
Around 364 000 tonnes of microplastics get into the treatment plants in Germany alone through rain, household wastewater and the sewage system. In Germany, it is possible to filter out a large amount of the microplastics. However, still about 35 percent of it is released into the environment. For example, on fields that are fertilized with sewage sludge.
The fine plastic particles also reach groundwater, lakes and seas via soils and rivers, where mussels and crabs absorb the microplastics. Microorganisms as such are food for larger marine animals, which is why the mircoplastics appear on our plates after all. The food chain closes and the microplastics end up in the human body.
Who is microplastic harmful to?
So far, it has not been proven that microplastics are harmful to the human body. Research is active, yet keeping a low profile. According to the WHO, however, it cannot be ruled out that nanoplastic particles that enter the human body through respiration or food can be distributed and deposited there. The majority of microplastic particles are excreted.
However, the harmful effects of the plasticizer BPA (bisphenol A), which has been shown to influence the hormonal system, have been confirmed. The EU has declared BPA a worrying substance. However, it is still added to food cans, beverage cans and other food containers.
In the case of cosmetic products, microplastics containing abbreviations such as PET (polyurethane) or PP (polypropylene) can be identified.
Life without plastic and zero waste - How does it work?
The responsibility to reduce the share of microplastics lies equally with manufacturers, retailers and us - the consumers.
There are now pioneers like Nadine Schubert with her blog "Better life without plastic", which gave us the Zero Waste Lifestyle exemplify. In almost all major cities there are also unpacked shops. The way is worth it.
If you are determined to live our everyday life plastic-free, you can do this step by step. All you need is a certain change in thinking, patience, creativity and our tips:
20 tips to avoid plastic
You can avoid plastic in every area of life by first consuming less and more consciously, this is the first step to a more sustainable lifestyle. Start at home, rethink your everyday life and consumer behavior: take the time to plan your purchases and with your eyes open to make plastic-free purchasing decisions.
- Prefer water and other drinks in glass bottles or have a water filter installed at home.
- Avoid food with disposable packaging and transport fruit and vegetables as well as your other purchases in a fabric net or bag. In addition, bring a small container to have cheese and cold cuts filled in at the food counter.
- Take your own water bottle as well as a metal container for snacks with you when traveling.
- Avoid straws and plastic ice cream spoons, as well as coffee-to-go cups and use your own lockable coffee cup instead. Leak-proof aluminum containers are also suitable for take-away meals.
- Less driving protects the environment and also means less plastic abrasion from the tires.
- Become an environmental and animal savior: don't be afraid to pick up plastic on the street, in the park or on the beach and throw it in the next trash can.
- Bake your own bread.
- For example, use baking soda as scouring powder.
- Prefer bamboo cotton swabs.
- Always choose cosmetics which are free of microplastics.
- Replace shower gel and liquid detergent with solid soap.
- Reduce plastic tape and use paper rolls instead.
- Do without tea bags and rediscover the tea infuser.
- Switch to ribbons when wrapping gifts
- Children's and animal toys should always be plastic-free.
- Pay attention to the correct waste separation.
- Buy used equipment that works properly.
- Headphones are now made from sustainable materials such as wood and fabric.
- Borrow little used equipment instead of buying new one.
- We live in a throw-away society that we help to shape or not. Therefore, repair items and clothing and use them as long as possible.
Use tools for a life without plastic
The code check app also determines individual ingredients of products when shopping.