5 Top Tips For Avoiding Microplastics in Your Home

Thursday, 11 July 2019  |  Jo

You may have heard the term microplastics floating around recently but do you actually know what they are and why they are bad for us and the environment? 

What Are Microplastics?

The official definition is…

 Microplastics are very small pieces of plastic that pollute the environment. Microplastics are not a specific kind of plastic, but rather any type of plastic fragment that is less than five millimetres in length’

Microplastic can begin life as a larger piece of plastic but after months of being turned over in the sea they eventually break down into smaller pieces of plastics which we call microplastics. Most plastics that end up in the sea end up breaking down into very small parts.

Other plastics are designed to be small like microbeads which are tiny pieces of polyethene plastic. These can be found in beauty scrubs. These don't change and also eventually end up in our seas through our water systems. 

In 2015 the US banned the use of microbeads. The UK banned the production of microbeads in cosmetic and cleaning products in January 2018. Although, this is a great start it still doesn’t stop the microplastics from entering our oceans. 

Where Do They Come From?

Microplastics come from a variety of different sources including large pieces of plastic waste, resin pellets and microbeads. They can come from plastic bottles and food packaging but also your carpets and even clothing. 

Here are some other sources for microplastics…

  • Car Tyres 
  • Synthetic Materials (your clothes)
  • Personal Care Products
  • Plastic Packaging Waste 
  • Road Markings 
  • Paints 

They have even been detected in the atmosphere both inside and outdoors.

Why Are They Bad?

‘Every year, an average of eight million tons of plastic waste, most of it single-use varieties, flows into the world’s oceans from coastal regions.’ Nat Geo

Aquatic life and birds often mistake microplastics for food which means they eat them and then they get stuck inside them.  

Microplastics are commonly found inside birds, whales and fish. In fact, recent research has found that mussels that we eat can contain around 90 microplastics. Which means when you eat your mussels you’re also ingesting plastic.  Researchers also found these tiny bits of plastic in drinking water, beer, table salt and seafood.

‘Microplastics have been found in more than 114 aquatic species, and studies have shown the potential damage to reproductive systems and the liver.’ Nat Geo

Back in October 2018, the first microplastics were detected in human faeces!

5 Top Tips For Avoiding Microplastics in Your Home

The first and main thing you can do is to reduce the number of single-use plastics you use in your daily life. 

Switch to Reusables

The top offenders for single-use plastics are plastic water bottles, disposable coffee cups, plastic straws, plastic cutlery, plastic bags and plastic food packaging. Look into reusable alternatives for these items to help you reduce the amount of plastic you use. 

These days there are hundreds of reusable products out there from reusable produce bags to reusable menstrual products.

Buy Natural Clothing

One of the main things you can do to reduce microplastics is to only buy clothes made from natural materials. When you wash clothes in your washing machine that are made from synthetic materials they release tiny particles of plastic into the water which then end up in our waterways.

Examples of natural materials for clothes include…

  • Hemp
  • Cotton
  • Linen (made from flax)
  • Wool
  • Cashmere
  • Jute 

Examples of synthetic fabrics include Polyester, Acrylic, Rayon and Nylon. 

Obviously, we’re not saying go out and replace all of your clothes with clothes made from natural materials but it is something to consider for your next clothes purchase.

If you already have clothes made from synthetic materials then over at Boobalou we have a few solutions for you. It’s called Guppy Friend or Cora Ball.

Guppy Friend or Cora Ball

The Guppy Friend washing bag is the a pragmatic solution for filtering the smallest pieces of synthetic fibre, which are emitted through washing synthetic textiles. Even clothing that may seem 100% natural often still contain a percentage of plastic fibres. Cora Ball is a microfiber catching laundry ball which reduces micro-plastic pollution. This easy-to-use laundry ball catches microfibers shedding off clothes in the washing machine. Pop it in your washing machine and wash your clothes., remove the fibres and use again. 

Labelling rules are flexible, and a 100% wool sweater can contain 10+% of synthetic components. These microplastic fibres are released during the wash cycle and make their way into our rivers and oceans. With Guppy Friend, the microfibers that do get released are caught by the mesh and don’t make their way into the marine ecosystem. 

Take a look on our website to find out more about how the Guppy Friend or Cora Ball works.   

Switch To Wooden Dish Washing Tools 

Disposable plastic dish brushes often break up when used. These bits of plastic end up going down your drain. A great way to prevent this is to switch to wooden dishwashing items. 

These can include…

Switch to Biodegradable Dish Cloths 

Disposable dishcloths also release microplastics down your sink. A great alternative is to switch to either reusable dishcloths or biodegradable ones which you can put into your compost at the end of its life.

Examples of these include... 

These are just some of the ways that you can prevent microplastics from entering our oceans, there are many more. 

To avoid overwhelm when making switches we strongly suggest that you focus on one area or thing at a time and make the switch. Once you’re happy with it then work on another area of your home. 

Sustainable living is a journey, not a destination. 

Do you have any other top tips for avoiding microplastics in your home?