On top of this, partially disintegrated plastic (called microplastic) finds its way into our food sources and, eventually, onto our plates. A recent study found that we are ingesting up to 100,000 microplastics a year – that’s around the weight of 52 credit cards.
As you can imagine, scoffing down a bowl of credit cards isn’t great for your body. The health consequences of ingesting microplastics are wide-ranging, and have been linked with cancer, hearing loss, nervous system damage, hormonal disruption and reproductive problems.
The good news is that small steps can make a big difference. When New Zealand supermarkets started phasing out single-use plastic bags in 2018 with a full ban from mid- 2019, it’s estimated this action alone stopped a staggering 1.1 billion bags from being introduced into the environment.
New Zealand households churn through 1.76 billion plastic containers each year and given almost every piece of plastic ever made still exists today, the government has now started taking steps to phase out more single-use plastic items – including plastic cutlery, straws and polystyrene food containers – by 2025. But that doesn’t mean you can’t start minimising your use of these problematic materials today.
Here are seven simple ideas that can help you reduce the amount of plastic waste you generate in your daily life.