Plastic Free July is a global movement to help reduce the use of disposable plastics in order to help reduce the amount of plastic littering the planet and entering our oceans.
The rise of New plastic polluter
Covid-19 has seen the rise in a new type of plastic pollution which is disposable face masks and disposable gloves. These are worn to help prevent the virus from spreading from person to person; most importantly because people can be carriers of the disease without showing any symptoms.
People have found face masks littering the streets, beaches and other public areas. Sadly these discarded face masks eventually find their way into the ocean, either through being carried by the wind or washed down the drain. Also they can be swept into the ocean very easily whilst sitting in landfills causing a threat to marine life.
Recently it was discovered that animals have started to become entangled in face masks. There was a story about a seagull with the straps of a discarded face mask tangled around its legs. Another story included a peregrine falcon with its legs also tangled around a discarded face mask. Reusable face masks are so easy to look after, they are available in fun patterns and colours and they pose no danger to ocean life!
Can Plastic save us during covid-19?
Before corona virus it was becoming a social norm to avoid disposable plastics by using reusable bags and reusable coffee cups. We may even go as far as to consider it fashionable. But with the arrival of the pandemic brought the fear of contamination. So, the reusable items were put on the back burner.
Plastic bags started to make a comeback, potentially unravelling all the work that had already been done to combat the plastic problem. To make the situation even worse the plastic industry was pushing their agenda that plastic bags were the “safer” option, compared to reusable bags. A study found that the virus can remain on plastic for up to 72 hours, whereas it was up to 24 hours on cardboard. This study didn’t test how long the virus was present on reusable bags.
Recently a number of US states and cities delayed the plastic bag ban. New York city withdrew their plastic bag ban from March 2020 until June 2020. In March, New Hampshire banned the use of reusable bags in all shops including supermarkets. In the UK the plastic bag charge was waived in March 2020. Starbucks even temporary banned the use of reusable coffee cups.
During June 2020 there was a health statement made regarding the use of reusable products. It stated that reusable items are important for addressing the plastic pollution crisis. Reusable items can be safely used by implementing basic hygiene. Evidence shows that the virus is mainly spread via inhaling droplets (person to person contact), instead of through direct contact with surfaces.
what about Plastic and our health?
In my blog Plastic: Friend or Foe? I talked about plastic and its effect on the planet on and the natural world. But what about plastic and its effect on us?
Plastic is everywhere, it’s in the air we breathe, in the food which nourishes us, in the clothes which protects our bodies from the elements, and the water which quenches our thirst. There is no escape from plastic!
Bisphenol A (BPA), Phthalates and DEHP amongst other toxics are found in plastic. In 2012 The World Health Organisation warned of these substances being an area of threat to public health, linking them to having possible carcinogenic properties (cancer causing) and being endocrine disruptors.
BPA has been strongly suspected of having endocrine disrupting properties, which is associated with 80 diseases. These include testicular cancer, obesity and reproductive disorders. BPA is found nearly in everyone in the form of traces! Pregnant women and young children are the most at risk. DEHP is found in some plastics and is a toxic carcinogen.
What about MICROPLASTIC?
Microplastic is plastic which has broken down again and again until its hard to see with the naked eye. The World Health Organisation has called for more research to be carried out on microplastic, in regards to human health because they are everywhere including in the water we drink.
Interestingly a recent study was carried out to detect microplastics in a person’s body. The study found that microplastics decreased or increased depending on his daily habits. This showed that microplastics were already present in the human body!
Are you ready to start your plastic free journey? Read The Beginners Guide: How To Break Up With Plastic.
Thank you for reading
Lets chat! Have you taken part in Plastic Free July? Was it your first time? Have you found Plastic Free July different this year? Leave a comment below or Tweet at me.
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