When plastics were discovered in 1907 everybody was overwhelmed that now they can use something which could be molded in the shape they want. But as the modernization started taking its course without even realizing plastics crept into our daily lives. Right from simple candy wrapper to big things like the body of your laptop, it’s everywhere. Almost after 100 years of its discovery, we realized that’s it's harming our mother earth and also our health. But what are we doing to avoid it and how can it be done, but before all this, we shall understand what is harmful in them.
Understanding the term microplastics:
These are small pieces of plastic that are of a size less than 0.2 inches in diameter. These are very small particles that are broken down from large particles and can be retained in the environment like seas, soil and other sources. They enter our ecosystem when consumed by animals.
About 250,000 metric tonnes of plastic is present in the sea some floating, some sunk or washed to shore.
Microplastics and health:
Microplastics have entered our food as well. Studies have shown traces of plastics in food and that is leading to ill health. Phthalates are added to make the plastic flexible and also shown to increase cells of breast cancer. Due to its smaller size, they can pass through the intestine to blood and enter other organs.
Bisphenol A (BPA):
is a chemical found in plastic, mostly used in food packaging, they can damage the reproductive system and reproductive hormones in women.
According to the American Academy of Paediatrics, the chemicals found in plastics that affect children are bisphenols, phthalates, perchlorate, artificial food colouring, nitrates, and nitrites.
Microplastics in Food:
Most of the plastics are present in seafood. A study revealed that 15 different brands of sea salt had 273 microplastics present. They are commonly eaten by fishes and other marine life. They are also present in deep-sea organisms and oyster and mussels are at higher risk.
Recent studies have shown that certain fishes mistake plastic for food, which can lead to toxic chemicals accumulating inside fish especially shellfish.
Little changes can bring about a good impact and imagine if all of us start following this change and making these into a habit so that even our friends and children could take up. So,
here are some ways by which we can avoid plastics –
- Don’t use plastic containers for heating in the microwave.
- Use glass or stainless bottles instead of plastic bottles.
- Reduce take away and parcels or take your own containers if possible because microplastics may sneak into the food.
- Eat fresh food.
- Use glass or ceramic bowl to heat in the microwave.
- Use steel, glass or wood containers for storage.
- Use cloth bags for shopping.
- Let the food cool at room temperature before storing in plastic containers but if possible avoid and use ceramic or glass containers.
- Avoid cleaning plastic containers in the dishwasher (hand washes them) as it may leach out chemicals.
- Buy loose products rather than packed in plastic packets (many stores provide paper bags).
It’s our duty to protect nature and leave a better place for our future generations so that they could relish the same beauty. These changes might feel difficult because with this fast life we need everything readymade but it’s not difficult to practice at least for the betterment of us and our loved one.