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7 surprising things you probably didn't know contain plastic


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We know we are destroying our planet with plastic. Reusable water bottles and canvas shopping bags, as well as reuseable coffee cups, have become must-haves for the eco-conscious. We recycle at home, say no to plastic in the supermarket and watch programmes like the BBC's War on Plastic and Blue Planet . But what sneaky plastic products are still escaping our attention?


Image Credit: RitaE via Pixabay 


There aren’t many situations that cannot be improved by a cup of tea. But our tea addiction is contributing to the plastic problem. Almost all shop-bought tea bags seal in natural tea leaves with very unnatural polypropylene, which will hang around long after the tea party is over. Consider switching to loose leaf tea and a reusable tea bag to enjoy a guilt-free cuppa. 

Chewing Gum

Chewing gum manufacturers don’t tell consumers that the ‘gum base’ in the product contains the same plastic used to make bottles and bags.

Chewing Gum

Image Credit: Hans via Pixabay

Gum litter is a constant problem, costing local authorities £150 million a year to remove. Chewing gum didn't always contain plastic and there are companies working to develop plastic-free alternatives. 


The face wipe industry has flourished over the last decade with manufacturers offering an ever broader range. However, most wipes are in fact made of polyester and other non-biodegradable materials. As many are used in bathrooms they tend to be flushed away. The Marine Conservation Trust estimates that there has been a 94% increase in the past year in the number of wet wipes found on beaches. A wipe, even those that claim to be biodegradable, will block sewer systems and end up in rivers and sea beds, causing harm to aquatic and marine life. If you are a wipe user check out the many reusable options now available. 


You may think you are being more environmentally conscious when buying drinks in cans rather than plastic bottles. However, this is not always the case.

can coca cola

Image Credit: Skitterphoto via Pexels

Drinks and other types of cans have been widely recyclable  for years, but lots of cans actually have a lining of epoxy resin (plastic) on the inside. 


Whilst there is already a ban on the manufacture and sale of 'rinse off ' cosmetic products that contain microbeads, many leading sun screens still contain microbeads that are smaller. It is the very smallest particles that are potentially the most dangerous; they can be absorbed by marine life and end up in the food chain easily. The fish you are eat may well contain plastic. According to a paper published in the journal Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 14,000 tons of sunscreen enter the world’s coral reefs every year. So it’s worth finding a sun cream brand that doesn’t contain microbeads or damaging chemicals to protect both your skin and the planet. 


Glitter might look like a harmless sparkle for a festival goer and be the staple of children’s craft projects - but glitter has a dark side. Glitter is a microplastic. Glitter can never be recycled, and in our waterways and seas the sparkle becomes very sinister indeed.

Glitter Hands Macro

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As anyone who has ever used glitter knows, it lingers for days and turns up in the most unexpected places. The long term impact of this is not yet known, but environmental groups are so concerned they are calling on the government to ban glitter completely. 

Your Clothes

And finally, it is quite likely that the clothing you are wearing contains plastic. Most new fabrics are made of plastic... up to 64% them. Check your labels for polyester, nylon, acrylic and polyamide. Each time you wash your synthetic clothing tiny microfibres of plastic are being leaked into the water systems and again into the marine ecosystems. If you want to break the ‘washing cycle’ buy natural fibres such as cotton and wool, buy fewer clothes, and try to wash them less often. The planet will certainly appreciate it! 

The more we know about the hidden plastics that surround us, the more informed choices we can make and the more responsibility we can begin to take for our impact on the environment. The more we know, the more we can lobby manufacturers and the government to provide better solutions and reduce our dependence on plastic.

Lead Image Credit: Skitterphoto via Pixabay

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