21 May 2024

A plateful of plastic

Visualising the amount of microplastic we eat

 

Microscopic pieces of plastic have been discovered in the most remote locations, from the depths of the ocean to Arctic ice. Another place that plastic is appearing is inside our bodies. We’re breathing microplastic, eating it and drinking plastic-infused water every day.

Plastic does not biodegrade. Instead, it breaks down into smaller pieces, and ultimately ends up everywhere, including in the food chain. Pieces that are less than five millimeters in length, around the size of a sesame seed, are called “microplastics.”

 

 

Dozens of reports have been published on microplastics but the scientific community is still only scratching the surface of understanding just how much plastic we consume and how harmful it could be.

People could be ingesting the equivalent of a credit card of plastic a week, a recent study by WWF International concluded, mainly in drinking water but also via sources like shellfish, which tend to be eaten whole so the plastic in their digestive systems is also consumed.

Based on the findings of the study, Reuters created the following images to illustrate what this amount of plastic actually looks like over various time periods.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“We have been using plastic for decades but we still don’t really understand the impact of micro- and nano-sized plastic particles on our health,” said Thava Palanisami of Australia’s University of Newcastle, who worked on the WWF study.

“All we know is that we are ingesting it and that it has the potential to cause toxicity. That is definitely a cause for concern.”

 

 

Positive response to Thailand’s “Everyday Say No to Plastic Bags” campaign

The positive public response to end of shopping malls, department and convenience stores distributing single-use plastic bags, as of January 1st