If there is one resolution we should all commit to in 2020, it's this: Ditch plastic water bottles and their accompanying microplastics for good.
We all know they’re catastrophic for the environment, but what exactly are microplastics from plastic bottles doing to our bodies?
Humans buy more than one million plastic bottles every single minute. And fewer than 10 per cent are recycled into new bottles. The environmental crisis they are causing could have a bigger effect on our lives than climate change, according to campaigners. But plastic isn’t just clogging rivers and landfill sites, it’s entering our bodies as microplastic.
dangers of microplastics
A new Australian study by the University of Newcastle has found that, on average, humans ingest five grams of microplastic every week – the equivalent weight of a credit card. The foods with worryingly high levels of microplastics include shellfish, salt and even beer. And people who drink mainly bottled water consume an incredible 90,000 particles of plastic a year more than those who drink tap water. That’s nearly 250 microplastic particles a day!
Some shards are small enough to enter human tissue where it’s feared they could trigger immune reactions or release toxic substances. Urgent research is being conducted to look at the long-term health effects.
If you’re wondering how on earth this can happen when we don’t actually munch our way through plastic wrap and sandwich bags, it’s because of a chemical known as a plasticiser that makes plastic bendy and pliable. Over time it leaches out – that’s why, if you use the same plastic bottle multiple times, it becomes brittle and cracks.
microplastic fertility worries
Microplastics could also partly explain why male sperm counts have reduced by 1.8 per cent a year since 1973, according to Dr Orly Lacham-Kaplan, a reproductive biologist at the Australian Catholic University in Sydney. She’s convinced one of the prime reasons behind the decreasing fertility of Aussie men is hormone-disrupting plastics in the environment.
Her concerns are backed by a UK study last year that discovered more than 80 per cent of teenagers’ bodies contained traces of a plastics' chemical linked to male impotence and reduced sperm quality. Bisphenol A is found in water bottles, drink cans and even baby bottles, and is already banned in Canada. It's also been linked to breast cancer, heart disease and obesity.
BIBO glass water bottles
6 simple swaps for single use plastic
1. If you’re ordering takeaway, use your own plastic containers from home.
2. Say no to plastic straws.
3. Carry metal cutlery with you so you don’t have to use plastic.
4. Buy a reusable coffee cup - some cafés will give you a discount.
5. Buy bread straight from a bakery in a paper bag.
6. Keep your reusable shopping bags near the front door so you don’t forget them.
7. Try making your own yogurt and ricotta cheese – it’s easier than you think.