It's everywhere: The air we breathe. The food we eat. The water we drink.
It has contaminated everything: Our oceans. Our backyards. Our parks. Our classrooms. Our vacation destinations. Even worse, a baby bottle used to feed our human future. The end result: it has penetrated every living thing and ecosystem on our planet.
What are microplastics?
Microplastics are microscopic fragments of plastic that derive from the mass scale commercial products production combined with the breakdown of large to small used plastics.
Scientists weigh in on microplastics:
There was a recent study at Trinity College Dublin in 2020 where plastic baby bottles shed huge numbers of tiny, unable-to-see plastic specks. Unknown parents globally prepare baby formula by shaking it up in hot water inside a baby bottle and the shocking and unknown results are infants swallowing more than one million microplastic particles each and every day.
Around the world, scientists continue to find microplastics everywhere they have looked: ocean floors, Antarctic ice, inside shellfish, table salt and even beer. Various studies continue to find it drifting in the air or falling with rain over mountains and cities and these invisible shards of plastic take decades or more to fully break down.
An environmental scientist from Wageningen University in the Netherlands reported that children and adults might ingest anywhere from dozens to more than 100,000 microplastic shards on a daily basis. Even tinier still are nanoplastics that can enter our cells, disrupting healthy cellular function. The University’s ongoing studies conclude that “If they’re small enough to enter cells or tissues, they might irritate just by being a foreign presence — as with the long, thin fibres of asbestos, which can inflame lung tissue and lead to cancer. There’s a potential parallel with air pollution: sooty specks from power plants, vehicle exhausts and forest fires known to deposit in the airways and lungs which can damage respiratory systems.”
Further still, “The larger microplastics are more likely to exert negative effects, if any, through chemical toxicity. Manufacturers add compounds such as plasticizers, stabilizers and pigments to plastics, and many of these substances are hazardous, for example, interfering with endocrine (hormonal) systems”.
Health hazard: fact or fiction?
Twenty years of global research shows that plastics, of any kind, pose a threat to public health because they contain a host of hazardous, endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDC’s) that leach and contaminate humans and our environment. These EDC’s disturb the body’s hormone systems and can cause cancer, diabetes, reproductive disorders, and neurological impairments of developing fetuses and children. Currently, as plastic production remains widespread, rates of acute and chronic diseases resulting from exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals in plastics are anticipated to rise. **Source: Endocrine Society.
“Our plastic is recycled and safe”
Large and small consumer product companies are fervently defending their continued use of plastic, making claims that their recycled plastic bottles or containers made of HDPE plastic is considered low-hazard with a low risk of leaching. However, the smallest of print concludes that HDPE plastic contains nonylphenol, which has been found to be dangerous to aquatic life. Nonylphenol is an endocrine disruptor, which may affect your body’s hormone systems.
While HDPE appears to be the lesser of evils, people should be aware that it is highly flammable , not biodegradable and it cannot be composted. It can be argued that it is safer from its distant cousin Styrofoam, that like other plastics, contains styrene that is reasonably anticipated to be a well-known human carcinogen, according to the National Institute of Health.
What do we do?
As a society we have a long and arduous road ahead to clean up our earth and protect our delicate and hurting global ecosystem. We also have a tremendous challenge ahead in protecting our homes and our children from this invisible threat. Remember, if it hurts the animals, it hurts us as humans. There are some immediate steps that can be done individually to safeguard what is most precious to us:
- Avoid single use plastics such as drinking straws
- Do not EVER microwave food in plastic containers
- Consume less processed foods
- Drink filtered water and use eco-friendly bottles such as glass or stainless steel
- Eat foods, ingest supplements, or use skincare and cosmetics that come in glass or compostable packaging
The Erthecode pledge
Every product we offer lives in either glass (our skincare) or compostable packaging (our ingestible beauty supplements). When you ingest our products our compostable pouches adhere to the most stringent certifications available, down to the film for our pouches and the zipper enclosures that keep them safe. The key raw elements that make up our compostable pouches are bio-resins and wood cellulose that is 3rd party lab tested as required by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). Additionally, our pouches do not contain:
- Fluorinated chemicals
- GMO ingredients
- Animal products