We Ingest Enough Plastic to Eat One Credit Card Per Week

Plastic is everywhere. It forms garbage patches in the oceans. It is found in some of the most remote locations on earth — from Arctic sea ice to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, which is the deepest trench in the world located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is even found in the very air we breathe…

We Ingest Enough Plastic to Eat One Credit Card Per Week

…and a “new study by the University of Newcastle, Australia suggests that an average person could be ingesting approximately 5 grams of plastic every week”, according to this report which was published earlier this month by the World Wide Fund For Nature, which was formerly known as the World Wildlife Fund. “The equivalent of a credit card’s worth of microplastics.”

Think about that for a moment. According to that report, an average person potentially consumes as much as 1769 particles of plastic every week just from drinking both bottled water and tap water.

An additional 182 particles of plastic every week ingested by an average person from eating shellfish may be enough to consider a Kosher diet — but then again, eleven particles of plastic is ingested per average person every week just from salt.

You may be ingesting ten particles of plastic every week for every 500 milliliters of beer.

Wait until you see the map of the average percentage of tap water sample containing plastic fibers and average number of fibers in Europe and nine countries. The lowest percentage of tap water samples containing plastic fibers is 72.2 percent.

The report concludes with a call for collective global action by the World Wide Fund For Nature:

Plastic is affecting entire ecosystems, potentially leading to a collapse in systems supporting people’s livelihoods. Plastic pollution has important economic consequences: the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates the economic impact of plastic pollution on oceans at US$8 billion per year.

The current global approach to addressing the plastic crisis is failing. Governments play a key role to ensure all actors in the plastic system are held accountable for the true cost of plastic pollution to nature and people. Systemic solutions using strategic and tactical interventions are required to stop plastic pollution at its source, and bold action from a broad range of stakeholders is needed across the full plastic lifecycle to implement these interventions.

What Can Be Done

If we are to continue to use plastic, we need to ensure that it is recycled properly and not shipped to some poor country which is willing to accept it at a price — and countries such as Malaysia are starting to not only reject the delivery of tons of plastic waste from other countries; but are also forcing those countries to take back those tons of plastic waste.

Better yet, plastics derived from plants would be more environmentally friendly than plastics which are based on petroleum products and chemicals, which are not biodegradable.

We also need to take plastic waste and repurpose it with minimal impact to the environment. One promising development is the conversion of daily plastic waste into jet fuel.

Summary

We are currently losing the war against pollution of our planet caused by plastic waste — despite the number of companies and governments which have already banned single-use plastic straws; and despite this initiative of the state of California in attempting to ban lodging companies from automatically supplying guests with single-use toiletries in small plastic bottles.

No matter what we do, avoiding the ingestion of plastic into our bodies is impossible. That is a scary thought.

I intend to write more articles pertaining to this issue pertaining to plastic waste — yes, travel is definitely interwoven into this topic — and hopefully we can collectively find a solution which will be beneficial and friendly to the environment without sacrificing the conveniences we enjoy with plastic today.

On a lighter note, I wonder if the ingestion of enough plastic to eat one credit card every week will affect the 5/24 limit which some credit card companies impose on customers…

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

6 thoughts on “We Ingest Enough Plastic to Eat One Credit Card Per Week”

  1. Donato says:

    I disagree with what I believe you stated.
    In my opinion, for any given plastic compound, there should be no difference as to the origin of the chemicals used to manufacture said item.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Just so that I understand your comment, Donato, are you saying that plastics derived from plants are no better environmentally than plastics which are comprised of petroleum and other chemicals?

  2. WR2 says:

    Sorry, but there’s so much misinformation in this post. First off, there are no “garbage patches” in the oceans. I assume you are referring to the “garbage island” meme, which is a complete lie. If you go there you will see nothing. There is an increase in the ppm in that area of the ocean, but most of the particles are tiny.

    Second, relying on one “study” is dubious at best, so I would bet my life that the real number of amount of plastic ingested is much lower. However, it doesn’t really matter, because it’s pretty much harmless. It passes right through your system. It is a non-problem. That should be obvious given how much plastic we supposedly consume and yet we are doing just fine thank you.

    Finally, the majority of plastic entering the oceans comes from Asia. Specifically, China, Thailand and Vietnam. If you go to Thailand you will see this firsthand. We are not the problem. We don’t dump our garbage into the ocean. So what we do here makes zero difference.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Would you please cite the sources to your information, WR2?

      Thank you in advance.

      1. WR2 says:

        This is one about plastic entering oceans:
        https://www.acsh.org/news/2018/07/26/asia-africa-cause-90-plastic-pollution-worlds-oceans-13233

        But a quick google search will yield many more on the subject.

        Regarding garbage island, even the very biased wikipedia post on garbage island informs you that there is no floating land mass, it’s just a concentration of 4 particles per cubic meter at most.

        A little skepticism would go a long way towards wasting money, emotional energy and political capital towards fighting non problems, and instead addressing real world problems.

        1. Brian Cohen says:

          Thank you, WR2. I may consider doing a counterpoint article.

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