Why is Plastic Bad for Your Health?

No doubt you know that plastic is bad for you, our planet and wildlife. What you may not have delved too much into is how the plastics we use in our everyday life are affecting our own health. While it’s too early to know the full effects, study after study is concluding that plastic pollution is a human health issue. [1, 7, 9, 10, 11] 

The more informed we are, the better decisions we can make for ourselves and our families so although this topic is heavy, we think it’s important to share this kind of information.

If the world is a bit too much for you right now, save this blog to your reading list for a later date. 

How Plastic Can Affect Our Health 

  • Microplastics
  • Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic less than five millimeter long that are harmful to oceans and aquatic life [14]. Did you know that we’re also unwillingly eating, drinking and breathing microplastics every day? [3] 

    These plastics can come from our clothes, water and even the food we eat. Microplastics are also intentionally added to cosmetics [6,7] and the most recent discovery has even found evidence that these microplastics are making their way into our blood [4]. 

     

  • Chemicals
  • Plastics are made using powerful and toxic chemicals that can leach into our food and ultimately into us. BPA [13] is a common one you may have heard of and been warned to avoid products that contain it, but did you know that plastic packaging can contain over 4000 chemicals and the full effect of these are still yet to be known!? [2]

    There is mounting evidence that plastic additives can be carcinogenic (cancer causing) [12], hormone disruptors [13] and toxic to human health [1, 7, 9, 10, 11]

    Plastics contain chemicals that are known as endocrine disruptors (EDC’s) and exposure to these can be linked to human disease and conditions including cancer, diabetes, reproductive disorders, neurodevelopmental impairment and immune system suppression [8, 13].  

    What You Can Do 

    It’s not all doom and gloom. The effects of plastics on our health will be dose dependent [9] and there are many ways in which we can reduce our exposure to microplastics and the toxic chemicals they’re made from;

      

     

    • Avoid eating hot food and drinking hot liquids from plastic; reheat your leftovers on a plate or in a glass container (our Eco Straws are great for this!) and invest in a good quality reusable and plastic free coffee cup for your take-away morning beverage. 
    • When shopping for clothes and linen check the labels and try to avoid materials like polyester, rayon, nylon and acrylic which all contain plastic microfibres. Look out for planet friendly options like Hemp. 

     

     

    • Say goodbye to buying water in plastic bottles - which can contain microplastics [5] - and invest in a quality, plastic-free reusable water bottle that you can refill. Our Insulated Water Bottles don’t contain any plastic whatsoever (yay!)
    • Tea bags can contain microplastics too, so try replacing these with loose leaf tea instead. 
    • When they’re used up, swap out your regular cosmetics, and replace them with plastic free Hair Care, Skincare and Body Bars with zero plastic packaging or ingredients! 

       

      Ultimately removing plastics from our lives lies in the hands of businesses, corporations and governments BUT as individuals there’s so much we can do! From buying plastic-free products and educating ourselves to supporting policies that limit single use plastics and writing to our favourite brands to ask them to consider reducing their plastic use. We’re all in this together, and can do small things everyday to make a difference. 

      The more of us doing this, the better!

      If you have any questions or want to get in touch with us about anything in this article, please email us on hello@seedandsprout.com



      References:

        1. Dick Vethaak, A. “Plastic Debris Is a Human Health Issue.” 22 June 2016 
        2. “Chemical additives in Plastic.” Plastic Health Coalition, 
        3. Gibbens, Sarah. “The average person eats thousands of plastic particles every year, study finds.” National Geographic, 5 June 2019, 
        4. Leslie, Heather. “Discovery and quantification of plastic particle pollution in human blood.” Environment International, 24 March 2022, 
        5. Graham Readfearn. “WHO launches health review after microplastics found in 90% of bottled water” 15 March 2018, 
        6. Plastic Soup Foundation LIQUID MICROPLASTICS IN COSMETICS ARE THE NEW BATTLEGROUND 03 March 2020 
        7. MINDEROO ‘Plastics and Human Health’ 
        8. Endocrine Society ‘Plastics, EDCs & Health: Authoritative Guide’ December 10, 2020 
        9. Stephanie L. Wright Plastic and Human Health: A Micro Issue? Environ. Sci. Technol. 2017, 51, 12, 6634–6647 Publication Date:May 22, 2017 
        10. Li, P., Wang, X., Su, M. et al. Characteristics of Plastic Pollution in the Environment: A Review. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 107, 577–584 (2021)
        11. Mintallah Mousa A.Allouzi ‘Micro (nano) plastic pollution: The ecological influence on soil-plant system and human health’ Science of The Total Environment Volume 788, 20 September 2021, 147815 
        12. Rinku Verma Toxic Pollutants from Plastic Waste- A Review Procedia Environmental Sciences Volume 35, 2016, Pages 701-708 
        13. Sarah A. Vogel, The Politics of Plastics: The Making and Unmaking of Bisphenol A “Safety” 2009 November
        14. NOAA. What are microplastics? National Ocean Service website, Last updated: 02/26/21