Most of us are no doubt aware of the problems with plastic. Many are now trying to reduce their plastic use. Those interested in tackling plastic pollution are always trying to move away from disposable plastics wherever possible, and thinking twice before buying any new plastic items.
It is a great idea to carry reusable bags, mugs, bottles and take-out containers. And you can also do your bit by choosing natural kitchen items rather than plastic ones. Or swapping plastic-handled toothbrushes and other bathroom items for wood or bamboo handled things. All of these alternatives are better, more ethical, sustainable and eco-friendly choices.
But unfortunately, making these switches can only go so far in tackling the problem. The most insidious and damaging form of plastic pollution is that we cannot see.
So how can you tackle plastic pollution you didn’t even know your were creating?
One source of plastic pollution that most people are unaware of is the plastic pollution that comes from synthetic clothing and textiles. Every time you wash synthetic clothing, micro-plastic particles are washed down the drain. Many of these plastic particles eventually find their way out into wider ecosystems, and make their way into oceans and seas.
New research has also shown that synthetic fabrics also release micro-plastics while they are being worn. So simply washing less, or using filtration devices or bags in washing machines will not be sufficient to solve the problem.
The only way to reduce plastic pollution is to try to choose natural fabrics whenever we can. And where synthetic fabrics are essential, we should always aim to find options that shed as few micro-particles as possible.
Another key area to consider is the micro-plastic pollution that comes from car tyres when you drive on roads. Tyres (due to friction on roads) create an huge amount of plastic dust – an estimated average of 63,000 tonnes per year of plastic dust in the UK alone. This is just one more reason to drive as little as possible when we are trying to live a more sustainable lifestyle.
From wet wipes to tea bags to tennis balls (another source of plastic dust), there are plenty of other hidden sources of plastic pollution out there that can catch you out. The more aware we are of what the things we buy and use are really made from, the better able we will be to curb plastic pollution and make better choices in our daily lives.