An apple a day keeps the doctor away! Maybe not. Hate to break it to you but as well as contaminating our drinking water, microplastics have made their way into good old fruit and vegetables! (Greenpeace, 2020)
That’s it. That’s the blog. What more needs to be said on why the plastic problem needs to be tackled head on?!
The fact that plants are now absorbing microplastics through the contaminated water used to grow them, not only shows how serious this problem is, but also how difficult it is to stop. A lot of the damage to the environment is already done, and reversing it is going to take a long time but what damage is consuming these microplastics through our food doing to our own bodies?
You might be reading this thinking here we go again, another person preaching about how bad plastic is for the environment, we all know the facts and that it’s something we need to address on a huge scale. But if you don’t want to deal with it for the environment's sake, maybe think a bit more about the fact that you’re now consuming microplastic. Admittedly, there is limited data to suggest that this poses any serious harm to humans at this current time, but wouldn’t it be better if it stayed this way, rather than getting 10 years down the line and discovering that the increased consumption of not only the physical microplastic particles, but the chemicals and biofilms associated with microplastics, is yet another contributing factor to serious illness or disease.
For someone that eats a lot of fruit and vegetables, delving into the extent of plastic contamination in foods that you would expect to be perfectly okay to eat, did raise alarm bells. Am I going to have to stop eating salad? The answer is obviously no. There are so many things you can do to ensure you are limiting the unknown effects of consuming microplastics, not only from fruit and vegetables, but other food as well.
In an ideal world, we would all be growing our own fruit and veg, using rainwater to water it and eating carrots carefree. But let’s face it, this is time consuming and not feasible for a lot of people. The next best thing is to grow what you can where you can; think windowsill herb pots, allotments and any spare outdoor space. The rest of the time, shop local and in season. There is a wealth of information online to help you shop for produce not grown via irrigation etc. With regard to other food. Fish and seafood are well known for containing microplastics and as an individual, not a lot else can be done to combat this other than maybe trying to limit consumption and also, just not throwing plastic in the sea... Tea Bags are another hot topic, thankfully a lot of tea companies are working to use home compostable tea bags, such as PG Tips (thankgod!) and Hampstead Tea. This “home compostable” is quite important, as when something is classed as “industrial compostable”, it needs to go in a food bin rather than your own compost heap!
I could go on and on but if I haven’t lost a lot of you by now, I’m sure I would soon! And anyway, if you’re reading this, you probably have access to the internet so can keep digging for information until your heart’s content!
But the bottom line is, we’re eating plastic. And although we haven’t experienced any major health issues from it so far, it’s not great, and I’m not sure about you, but I don’t particularly want to find out if there are any serious health effects in the future. So let’s do what we can to minimise the risk! Grow what you can, shop more consciously and sustainably and just put stuff in the bin.
Over and out! Kathryn References:
Greenpeace East Asia. 2020. 3 Everyday Foods that Contain Microplastics - Greenpeace East Asia. [online] Available at: <https://www.greenpeace.org/eastasia/blog/6016/3-everyday-foods-that-contain-microplastics/> [Accessed 4 May 2021]
Who.int. 2019. Microplastics in drinking-water. [online] Available at: <https://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/publications/information-sheet190822.pdf?ua=1> [Accessed 4 May 2021].
Drinkteahub.com. 2021. The best plastic-free tea bags update February 2021 – Drink Tea Hub. [online] Available at: <https://www.drinkteahub.com/best-plastic-free-tea-bags-uk/> [Accessed 4 May 2021].
Photo Credit by Sweet Sneak Studio's