Life would be a lot different without plastic. Imagine if every product manufactured with plastic had to use a different material – laptops might be covered strictly with metal or even wood. Grocery bags would be made of paper or cloth. Your shampoo and conditioner would come in glass bottles. Plastic is definitely a wonder material, but it’s not necessarily a great thing. And, to be clear, we’re talking about all types of plastic, from the BPA-laden travel cup you’re holding to the glitter on your face and in your hair.
Let’s kick off our discussion of the hazards of plastics with BPA, something that you should be familiar with already. Originally, BPA was developed as a birth control solution, but then it was discovered that combining BPA with plastic made it more flexible and less brittle. It came to be used in pretty much all types of non-rigid plastic, ranging from water bottles to receipt tape. The problem is that BPA doesn’t stay in the plastic – it transfers out to you, and to the environment. In fact, the CDC actually noted that 92% of the people in their testing had detectable levels of BPA in their bodies.
How many times have you noticed plastic water bottles lying alongside the road? Do you realize that bottle will stay right there for hundreds, if not thousands of years? Plastic doesn’t decay – it’s almost immortal. And when it does begin to break down through exposure to the sun and temperature fluctuations, it turns into smaller and smaller pieces of the same stuff. Those tiny particles are very light, with almost no mass at all. That means they can be transported very easily by wind and rain, and wind up in water sources.
Once in a body of water, those tiny pieces of plastic are mistaken as food by fish and other marine life. They consume them, but cannot digest the pieces. Plastics stay inside the animal that ate them (and they continue to leach toxic chemicals into their new home). There are two results from this.
First, the chemical leakage can actually cause reproductive system damage to the animal, sometimes causing sterility, and other times causing offspring to be slow to develop. Second, when that animal is eaten by another, the plastic just changes homes. It doesn’t go away. There are detectable levels of microplastics in pretty much every piece of seafood you eat, which means that you’re ingesting microplastics, too.
Two of the most dangerous types of plastics are microbeads and plastic glitter (the most common type, and the one you’ll find in your makeup and other cosmetics). These are already tiny pieces, and they cannot be trapped during the water treatment process. In short, they go straight from your shower drain to the ocean, with no pause in between.
There’s hope, though. Biodegradable glitter isn’t made from plastic, but from cellulose derived from plants. Learn more about how our bio glitter can revolutionise not just your look, but the planet.