So, as far as plastic pollution stories go, this is about as close to home as it gets – yes folks, it’s in your kitchen. A recent scientific study by Orb Media shows the UK has one of the lowest rates of plastic pollution in tap water of any country – woop woop you say – until you hear the figures. The European nations came out best in the survey but we still have micro plastics in a terrifying 72% of samples. That’s enough to make you stop and think a while.
The study is described in this Guardian article. It’s pretty darn scary. And depressing. And shocking. But, what if anything can we do about it? Well, one thing is for sure – neither you or I can fix it on our own , but that doesn’t mean we have to make it worse – you don’t kick the small kid in the playground just because you can’t eradicate bullying.
Micro plastics can come from any plastic that has broken down into tiny weeny pieces but more likely (and significantly faster – like instant) they come from synthetic fabrics and microbeads. Synthetic fabrics are basically synthetic clothes and microfibre cleaning cloths. Every time you stick a fleece or a microfibre cloth in the wash, plastic microfibres are released and they go straight through the filters into our water system – then you drink them. Avoiding these types of materials is the best option, washing them less is a good step, as is using a “capture system” in the wash. Here are just two of the products currently under development and looking for funding which would make life easier for all of us who don’t want to throw our entire wardrobe (One, Two). Keep your eye out for others as when these hit the market, we can all significantly reduce our contribution to this problem.
Microbeads are the other baddies here.
They’ve had a lot of press in recent years and the UK is bringing in one of the strongest microbead bans in the world with a full ban on sales of “wash off” products containing micorbeads from June 2018. They’ll still be in your sunscreen though, and your make-up – apparently it would be both “difficult” and “expensive” to remove them from those so they’re not bothering. I mean, it’s not proven that this stuff is damaging to human health, it’s suspected that it’s damaging but proving it would be, you guessed it, expensive and difficult so hey ho – drink up folks.
The option is always there to buy bottled water. Except that of course bottled water comes in plastic bottles…… A study by Recycle Now showed that towards the end of 2016 an unbelievable 16 million plastic bottles were thrown in the UK every day – not every year, every day. And to be clear, that doesn’t mean that’s how many are used daily, that’s how many are thrown into the bin, an even greater number are recycled, which again, sounds great but that still means a massive carbon foot print for the original creation and the recycling. And it will still one day end up in our seas and probably in your tap water.
So, back to what you can do.
- use less plastic.
- be careful with the plastic you have and mindful of what happens to it
- (and this is a big topic too I’ll look at separately) support the large ocean clean up campaigns – whether they’re currently underway or looking for funding
- maybe invest in a really good filter that can capture the plastic
- abandon water for alternative options?…. Cheers