You might have switched over to reusable shopping bags from plastic bags. Or gotten rid of plastic storage containers in your kitchen. Or even replaced plastic water bottles with stainless steel ones. We’d like to thank you for making the effort – and encourage you to go on! We’ve discovered five, seemingly harmless products that are actually full of plastic, and since awareness is key to taking action, we thought we’d put this list down as a ready reckoner.
- Face wash: Do you use any facial cleanser that contains “microbeads”? Because if you do, those microbeads might help clean your skin, but they are extremely harmful for the environment. Microbeads are made from plastic and are used as an exfoliator in face washes, scrubbers, and toothpastes. They are also used to add all that glitter that you see in nail polish and lip gloss. The plastic microbeads are so tiny that they can’t be filtered by water treatment plants. They end up in rivers and oceans, where they bind with chemicals and are eaten up by the fish. The toxic waste is passed up the food chain and we unknowingly eat contaminated marine food. What you can do: Carefully read the labels. Avoid products with microbeads. As an alternative, you can use one of these 5 natural skin cleansers.
- Tea bags: According to a report published in Guardian, tea bags are only 80% paper fiber. They also contain small amounts of plastic in the form of polypropylene, a type of thermoplastic. Some brands use a very fine plastic mesh woven into the tea bag paper for strength and structure. Thermoplastic fibers are also used for sealing the bags. Such bags are known as silk tea bags. The best option to enjoy a refreshing plastic-free cup of tea is to switch from tea bags to loose tea leaves. It tastes better and also keeps away plastics.
- Tetra Pak: Most people are under the impression that Tetra Paks – cartons that are used for milk, juice, and coconut water – are made from paperboard coated with paraffin wax. While the original paperboard cartons were waxed, polyethylene has nowadays become the material of choice for waterproofing a Tetra Pak. The inside and outside of these cartons are lined with two layers of polyethylene, a petroleum-based plastic that raises contamination risks. Commonly used Tetra Pak cartons have 74% paper, 22% polyethylene and 4% aluminum. Although, Tetra Paks can be recycled, it’s difficult to reuse the plastic component. What you can do: Choose glass over Tetra Paks as it can be easily recycled. Making your own fresh juice is a lot healthier than drinking packed juice with added preservatives and flavors.
- Paper cups: The disposable paper cups you use to enjoy your favorite coffee or tea aren’t that eco-friendly as you think. Paper decomposes quickly and doesn’t harm the environment, right? Unfortunately, paper cups aren’t 100% paper. They also have a thin lining of polyethylene that prevents cups from leaking or getting soggy. The plastic coating means that the cups can’t be easily recycled and there is also the danger of toxic chemicals releasing into your drink. Also, think about all the trees that are cut just to make these cups. If you haven’t yet started using your own reusable tumbler for your daily fix of tea / coffee, it’s time to make a beginning. While getting your favorite cuppa from a big brand, ask for the terracotta glasses instead.
- Fleece jacket: Did you know that your fleece jacket was once plastic? Surprising, isn’t it? In many cases, the Plastic fabric, or fleece as it is called, is made from recycled plastic bottles. The plastic bottles are first shredded and melted at a high temperature. The liquid plastic is then mixed with other materials and is passed through a metal disk with tiny holes (called spinneret). When the liquid cools, it hardens to become thread which is spun into fabric for making fleece jackets. Certain brands of Fleece reuse plastic bottles, look out for these brands.
Look for hidden plastics in products you use daily, eliminate as many of these as possible, and do share with us on Facebook.