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Plastic on the Menu? What You Need to Know about Microplastic


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Plastic on the Menu? What You Need to Know about Microplastic

The Big Impact of Tiny Plastic

These days, we’re all familiar with stories about how much unsightly, chemical-absorbing plastic waste now floats in our oceans. Through the efforts of The Washed Ashore Project and others, we’re more aware than ever before of the devastating impact of plastic on sea life who can get choked on it, or ensnared by it, or whose intestines can become clogged by it.

But now a couple of new studies are also revealing the impact, chemically speaking, on sea life who ingest the tiniest microparticles of plastic waste, known as microplastic.

Microplastic results when larger pieces of plastic waste break down over time into smaller and smaller fragments. Eventually these particles can become so tiny that they look like food to even very small fish. And while these miniscule dots of plastic don’t choke the fish, they are proving harmful nevertheless.

A New Favorite Food of Fish?

fishFor example, NatureWorldNews.com reports that research from Uppsala University published in the journal Science reveals some European perch larvae actually preferred eating microplastic particles to zooplankton, their natural diet.

And in the study, the fish that fed on plastic experienced changes in behavior and became less active. They were also “less responsive to predator cues, more likely to be eaten, and less likely to thrive—preferring to eat plastic rather than their natural prey,” according to the study’s authors.

Oyster on the Clamshell?

Oyster on the ClamshellAnother study, from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, revealed the harmful impact of microplastics on oysters exposed to polystyrene microparticles. (Imagine tiny bits of plastic disintegrated from things like packing peanuts, CD/DVD cases, fast-food containers and clamshells, disposable cutlery, bottles, lids and trays, etc.). The news for oysters—and undoubtedly for other filter-feeders who also accidentally ingest microplastics—isn’t good. Polystyrene microparticles were shown to interfere with such important functions as:

  • Energy uptake and allocation
  • Reproduction
  • Offspring performance

This indicates that microplastics may actually reduce reproductive output in marine species. In other words, as the amount of microplastic increases in the world’s oceans, marine life could be on the decline.

More research will be done on this topic, but for now please remember to be vigilant about plastic in your world. Reduce and reuse where you can and recycle the rest.

comment_2How about you? Are you taking steps to avoid plastic where you can? Are you encouraging others to reduce, reuse and recycle? We’d love to hear your success stories! Just drop us a line in the comments below.

Resources:
Washed Ashore: The Facts
BBC News: Fish eat plastic like teens eat fast food, researchers say
Movement Blog: 12 Major Sources of Plastic Pollution
Nature World News:
Young Fish Now Prefers Eating Plastic Over Real Food, Study Finds

Science: Environmentally relevant concentrations of microplastic particles influence larval fish ecology
Seeker: Oysters Are Munching On Our Microplastics
Wikipedia: Polystyrene
PNAS: Oyster reproduction is affected by exposure to polystyrene microplastics

Have you ever reused a plastic throwaway container?

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Yes:
 
94%
No:
 
6%
Total Votes:
148
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Amy Hepfner
Amy Hepfner
5 years ago

This is horrifying, but worse yet, this means that microplastic is in our food!! I avoid plastic at all costs and yet, it’s in the food chain too! Not good!!

Earline Berndt
Earline Berndt
5 years ago

We recycle everything we can and don’t use plastic on a regular basis. We reuse many, many throwaway containers.

Kristie Zemlicka
Kristie Zemlicka
5 years ago

I never cease to be shocked and saddened by our country’s use of plastic. In so many situations glass or paper products would work as well or better, but we continue to use plastics as disposables! It frustrates me that the small town I live in do not even collect plastics for recycling! I feel so helpless against the destruction.

Moderator
Admin
Moderator
5 years ago

Kristie, we totally get how living in a town without recycling facilities could result in feelings of helplessness. If you like, check out this blog from Recyclebank, which has some good ideas for people who live in smaller towns: https://livegreen.recyclebank.com/Proper-Green-Small-Town-Recycling-Blues

And remember: every small, conscious choice can and does make a difference!

Danielle Popejoy
Danielle Popejoy
5 years ago

I did not know this!! I need to go get different containers to store my food in! I do recycle however 🙂

Michele Dlugolecki
Michele Dlugolecki
5 years ago

I try not to buy take out. It should be banned.

Esther
Esther
5 years ago

What should be banned, taking out or plastic?

Joyce Kim
Joyce Kim
5 years ago

I had no idea how harmful plastic was. My eyes are being opened since joining Norwex. I started off with just wanting a cleaner home without storing dirty sponges, but I’ve come to the realization that it is much more than that. Now knowing what i know now I feel ashamed for having supported a company that uses microplastic.

Leah Rissien
Leah Rissien
5 years ago

I keep my own reusable “take out” container in my car. I bring it in whenever I eat out. Reduce!

Moderator
Admin
Moderator
5 years ago
Reply to  Leah Rissien

What a great idea! Thanks for sharing, Leah!

Amy Hepfner
Amy Hepfner
5 years ago
Reply to  Leah Rissien

I love this idea Leah!! I’m going to start doing this too!! Thank you for sharing.

Christine Winchester
Christine Winchester
4 years ago

I couldn’t find an appropriate place to post this question… hopefully will reach right person here… Do Microfiber cloths lose micro-plastic when washed? Any thoughts on the balance with green cleaning – and – the what if they are sending off micro-plastic in our waterways?

Moderator
Admin
Moderator
4 years ago

Christine, thank you for your inquiry about Norwex products. Norwex Movement is a separate division of Norwex that exists to help people create safer havens in their homes by raising awareness about planetary issues that affect us all. Our policy is to direct all Norwex-specific inquiries to Customer Care. In the U.S., please contact 1-866-450-7499. In Canada, please contact 1-877-766-7939.

Jennifer Rottman
Jennifer Rottman
4 years ago

I try avoid plastic more and more. I like to pick up other people trash if I see it not in a waste can.

Gingi Freeman
Gingi Freeman
3 years ago

So scary!! I wish more people knew this! I didn’t even think about the effect on oysters!

Sharon Campese
Sharon Campese
3 years ago

I go to grocery stores where you bring in your own containers to fill with bulk products. Veggie bags are good to take along for produce.

Michelle D
Michelle D
2 years ago

Does Norwex Microfiber cloths cause plastic to go in waterways

Moderator
Admin
Moderator
2 years ago
Reply to  Michelle D

Michelle, thank you for your inquiry about Norwex products. Norwex Movement is a separate division of Norwex that exists to help people create safer havens in their homes by raising awareness about planetary issues that affect us all. Our policy is to direct all Norwex-specific inquiries to Customer Care.

In the U.S., please contact 1-866-450-7499. In Canada, please contact 1-877-766-7939. In Australia, the number to call for product inquiries/clarification is: 07 3204 9444.

Donna Mitchell
Donna Mitchell
1 year ago

Does Norwex microfiber shed micro plastic ??

Moderator
Admin
Moderator
1 year ago
Reply to  Donna Mitchell

Hi Donna, thanks for your great question. Please see Amy’s blog on this very topic at: https://www.norwexmovement.com/6-reasons-microfiber/ and thanks for considering Norwex products as a healthier choice for your family and our planet.