Microplastics are everywhere. The tiny plastic particles pose a massive environmental challenge. Microplastics are polluting oceans at an alarming rate. Much of the oceanic microplastics result from the breakdown of plastic litter. Another source of microplastics pollution is microbeads. Microbeads, which are commonly added to cleansing and exfoliating personal care products, pollute the environment when they get flushed down the drain.
Many of us are well aware of the environmental challenge faced because of the proliferation of plastics. Since plastic does not decompose naturally, most of it remains in our environment. Only 12% has been incinerated and only 9% has been recycled. A great deal of plastic ends up in the ocean and other bodies of water. Much of it breaks down into small particles – microplastics – which are now ubiquitous in the oceans. There are also microplastics that started out that way in the form of little beads used in the cosmetics industry. Studies have found microplastics in the bodies of 73% of fish from the North Atlantic.
Almost everyone everywhere comes into contact with plastic everyday. Its use has increased 20-fold in the past half-century, and production is expected to double again in the next 20 years. But is plastic so ubiquitous that we are unwittingly drinking the stuff?