10 Ways to Avoid Consuming Microplastics

posted in eating, low waste

Last Updated on December 28, 2023

Did you know humans consume about a credit card or plastic bottle cap’s worth of microplastics every week?! And if you’d like some visuals, this article shows the cereal bowl of plastic we eat every 6 months and the heaped dinner plate we eat every year. Yuck.

So how can we reduce the amount of microplastics we ingest? Here’s 10 things you can do:

1. Avoid Plastic Water Bottles

In study of bottles water from 8 different countries 93% showed some sign of microplastic contamination and not only that but bottled water invariably add to the plastic pollution problem.

2. Use a Water Filter

So then you might think switching to tap water solves the problem – while tap water does have fewer microplastics than bottled water, unfortunately tap water also contains microplastics. The best way to remove the microplastics from drinking water is with a good quality water filter.

Pitcher filters can be an easy way to filter your water or for an even simpler way you can get a built-in sink or home filter system to get filtered water right from a tap. We use Aquasana’s Claryum 3-Stage max flow under-sink filter and love it!

Drink filtered water to help avoid consuming microplastics

3. Reduce Plastic Food Packaging

It can be very hard to eliminate plastic packaging when it comes to food, but try your best to switch to plastic-free options where possible. Bring your own bags for produce and your own takeout containers to restaurants. For food storage switch to reusable containers and wraps.

Any food packaging swaps you can make has the double benefit of both reducing microplastics in your food and also reducing plastic waste in general.

and NEVER microwave in plastic

Not only does heat further help break down the plastic but it can also cause chemicals like BPA and phthalates to leach into the food.

Zero waste Stasher bags
Silicone is a better alternative to plastic

4. Minimize Synthetic Textiles in your Home

Our homes are full of plastic material and in particular fuzzy textiles, like carpets, can be both sources and traps for microplastics. A study found that homes with primarily carpet had almost double the amount of plastic microfibres as homes without carpet.

We also tend to have synthetic throw blankets (those fluffy ones are especially bad), rugs, pillows, mattresses, bedding, sofas and other upholstered furniture which all release microplastics in the form of tiny fibres. Switching to natural materials where possible can help reduce this and it’s particularly important with items and areas that babies and small children interact with – you can read more about reducing microplastic exposure for babies and kids here.

Natural fiber blanket and pillows

5. Regularly Clean & Dust

What’s in dust? You guessed it, more microplastics that we breathe in and consume. This study collected dust samples from homes in 12 different countries and found microplastics in all of them.

In order to keep the amount of microplastics in your home to a minimum it’s helpful to regularly dust and vacuum, as well as timely change filters in any air systems.

Vacuuming up dust and microplastics

6. Start a Low-Waste Beauty Routine

Many of our bathrooms are another source of plastic. From microplastics and microbeads added directly into products (thankfully microbeads have now been banned in some countries) to all the plastic packaging. This report found that when looking at thousands of skin/hair care and cosmetic products from the 10 most popular beauty brands 87% contained microplastics – that’s almost 9 of every 10 products!

Instead make the switch to plastic-free and zero-waste care and beauty products.

zero waste bathroom items

7. Use Plastic-Free Tea Bags

Cuppa tea with a side of plastic. A single plastic tea bag can release billions of microplastics into your tea and especially if you drink it daily that adds up fast. Luckily it’s fair easy to switch to 100% paper bags or loose leaf tea!

Plastic tea bags add microplastics to your drink

8. ‘Green’ Your Wardrobe

Of course your wardrobe has an impact too! Opting for natural materials is a great way to reduce microfiber pollution and for any synthetics you do have, you can wash them in a Guppyfriend Bag, use a Cora Ball or get a washing machine filter.

Plastic microfibres are released into the water during washing. Reduce this by using a filter or catching them in a bag.

9. Assess Plastic Cooking Tools & Kitchen Gadgets

Take an audit of your kitchen and how many tools and utensils are made of plastic. Start by adressing the plastic items with the highest risk of shedding microplastics into food, such as items that contain or come in contact with anything abrasive, are heated, or get the most use/wear.

Switch from plastic cooking utensils so help avoid microplastics

10. Tackle the Toys

From stuffed animals to plastic figures, there’s a lot of plastic in the toy box. Try to choose natural material toys, especially for items that get a lot of wear or for anything that will end up in a baby or toddler’s mouth! Here are some plastic-free toy brands to check out.

Examples of plastic-free toys

and especially watch out for Craft and Art Supplies

Glitter is an obvious top offender and I try to never let it in the house, but there are also many other kids craft supplies that are plastic and shed bits of plastic, such as pipe cleaners, felt, pom poms, glue, stickers, sequins, paints and even some crayons are made with plastic. And if you’ve ever done crafts with kids you know how quickly stuff gets everywhere.

Try to use natural materials where possible (or even better, upcycled materials) and clean up after any crafting.

Follow Verena Erin:
Verena Erin Polowy has been advocating for sustainable and slow fashion practices for over 10 years. With a Bachelor's in Fashion Design & Technology and unique experience in the industry Erin has created 500+ videos and articles educating and supporting conscious consumers, students, business owners, and industry members. Erin volunteers on the executive team of Fashion Revolution Canada and offers digital marketing consulting to triple-bottom-line small businesses.

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