Imagine you are outside, enjoying the sun. "Damn, the sun is shining so nicely and the chilly air is so refreshing!" Pretty at ease with the world surrounding you, you look into the distance and take a deep breath through your nose,.. today is the perfect day for a good deed.
But wait, appearances deceive.
There is something in the air!
You cannot see it and yet it is there.
It is microplastic and it is everywhere. In the air, in the seas, in your food and already in your body - with devastating consequences.
Microplastic absorbs pollutants from the environment, such as pesticides or PCBs. This poison is already entering our bodies. The long-term consequences have not yet been researched. Even in layers of thick ice of the Arctic thousands of particles can be found.
Plastic reaches into the Arctic.
Microplastic particles are smaller than 5mm. However, they are often so small that they are not visible to the naked eye. Unfortunately, there is already a lot of microplastic in our oceans: a team of researchers found over 12,000 microplastic particles in only one litre in the Arctic! Since these plastic parts are so itsy bitsy small, there is still no solution to filter them or to remove them from the environment.
How does plastic get into the oceans and where does it actually come from in the first place?
There are two types of microplastic: primary and secondary micro plastics. Primary microplasty or also called microbeads is produced by industry and is found in many cosmetic and detergent products. For example, the microplastic particles are used in peelings as abrasives. Secondary microplastics, on the other hand, are produced through decomposition of larger plastic particles through weathering, waves or sunlight. Due to the properties of plastic, it attracts environmental toxins and passes them on to marine life, which represents a major threat to marine animals since they confuse the micro plastic with food and eat it.
If it is eaten by other creatures (e.g. fish, birds or even humans), the microplasty enters the food chain. But plastic packaging can also release plastic. If, for e.g., a potato chip bag is torn open, even the smallest pieces of plastic can tear off and get into the air or into the food. Everyday life tools such as salt mills made of plastic can pass on even the smallest plastic particles to the salt. Another big "generator" of microplastics are cars. Due to the constant abrasion of the tires, tiny tire parts remain on the road or are realised into the air. And finally, step-by-step, it ends up in our bodies. The immediate effects microplastics can have on our health, however, have not yet been researched.
We poop plastic!
According to a new study it is proven that micro plastics already represent a major problem of global scale, as it has now been detected in the human stool! And not just a little: 20 plastic particles per 10 g poop. That's quite a lot! The test persons from the study came from Finland, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Italy, Poland, Russia, Japan and Austria and all had eaten food wrapped in plastic. Some also claimed to have eaten fish or seafood.
There are many causes and ways in which microplastics enter our environment. So far, however, consumers have been left on their own to identify and avoid microplastics in products because of a lack of strict laws, regulations and product information. The EU Ecolabel offers a small decision-making aid here. This means that shampoos, soaps and other cosmetic articles with this label must not contain microplastics.
This entire complex issue embodies a problem that can not be solved overnight, but a first step is to change one's (your!) consumer behaviour and to buy less plastic products. Avoid Waste ;)
Our advice: With the CodeCheck app, you can scan products while shopping and see whether they contain microplastics:
Another advice: The following (lamentably very long) list shows products that still contain microplastics and hence should rather be avoided: