Microplastics are extremely small pieces of plastic debris in the environment resulting from the disposal and breakdown of consumer products and industrial waste. For a long time, when people said you are what you wear, it seemed like a fashion derived statement but not anymore. Due to the use of unsustainable fabrics and the reckless disposing of those same materials, the cycle is complete, and we are about to suffer the consequences. People spend up to 90% of their time indoors and therefore the greatest risk of exposure to microplastics is in our homes. Microplastic pollution has been detected in human blood for the first time, with scientists finding the tiny particles in almost 80% of the people tested.
The discovery shows the particles can travel around the body and may lodge in organs. The definitive and measurable impact on health is yet unknown. However, some of these particles are toxic to humans, carrying carcinogenic or mutagenic chemicals – potentially causing cancer and/or DNA damage. This was inevitable. We need to understand the health implications with a degree of urgency.
It is estimated by the IUCN that around half a million tonnes of plastic microfibers shed during the washing of plastic-based textiles such as polyester, nylon, or acrylic end up in the ocean every year. 60% of clothing is made with plastic, which is not a natural material. So, it is not surprising that pumping mountains of synthetic waste out leads to negative effects for nature and humans. Something really needs to give. From small things such as eating habits (plant-based diet) and clothing, to bigger things such as the type of energy we choose to explore. At this pace, the future is bleak, and plastic will soon replace water as the main “natural resource” making up most of the world. Instead of the world being 70% water, it will be 70% microplastics and global warming will only increase those figures to the point where we will be completely submerged in microplastics.
This outlook seems grim and pessimistic but it is our reality and unless we change it, it is the exact direction we are heading.