Green Corner: Plastic and Microplastic Pollution

Article by Kip Coerper, organist and choirmaster for St. James’ Episcopal Church in Skaneateles and a GreenFaith Fellow. He offers reflections on Creation Care in the monthly “Green Corner.”

God’s green earth is suffocating from harmful plastic pollution⁠—yet another harmful by-product of fossil fuels. Micro plastics (5mm or less, typically only the size of a grain of sand), are found everywhere⁠—in our air, water, soil, and yes, in our bodies. It is estimated that each human being ingests 2,000 particles a week⁠—the equivalent of the weight of a credit card. How do plastic particles affect us? Where do they come from? And what can we do about it?

Plastic waste does not biodegrade over time. It simply breaks down into ever smaller particles. “Plastics contain chemicals that can act as endocrine disruptors, meaning they can affect and even mimic hormones; in theory, this means microplastics in the body may cause cancer, reproductive disorders, chronic inflammation, autoimmune disease, obesity, and neurological impairment in developing fetuses and children” (The Week, May 20,2022). The European Union has recognized this reality of BPA (a plastic additive used in food storage containers and food can liners) and has BPA-reducing regulations twelve times more strict than the U.S regulations.

Here are some tips to reduce and re-consider your use of plastics:

  • Only 6% of plastic is recycled in America! Consider sending your plastic (at a fee) to terracycle.com, where almost 100% of it is recycled).
  • There are many new products to cover food that are not plastic-based. Use glass, porcelain, or stainless steel containers in which to store your food.
  • Do not put plastic products in the microwave, since the heat will enhance the plastic leaching into your food.
  • Synthetic materials used in clothing are the largest source of microplastic pollution. 65 million tons are released into our environment every year from acrylic, polyester, nylon, and other synthetic materials in clothing. Consider finding materials that are sustainably produced, such as bamboo, cotton, or other natural fibers which will not break down into microplastics when washed. You can capture the micro plastics in your existing synthetic clothing by using Cora Balls “made to catch microfibers flowing from our laundry into our oceans” at hivebrands.com.
  • Eliminate single-use plastic:
    • Drink water from your tap in your own stainless steel bottle.
    • Instead of buying plastic bottles of Gatorade, buy the powder and make your own.
    • Purchase frozen concentrated juice in cardboard cans and mix your own rather than plastic bottles of juice.
    • Use canvas bags instead of plastic bags for all your shopping—not just grocery store shopping.
    • When picnicking, use bamboo or corn-based cutlery instead of plastic spoons and forks.

Our fragile earth is suffering from our abuse and overuse of plastic products that do not biodegrade or have useful shelf life. Please consider what products you will end up putting in the trash or your recycle bin. They have to be delivered somewhere into our environment. The residue of plastic products are harmful to our air, water, land, and our bodies. You can provide a blessing to everyone by reducing your use of them.

Leave a Comment

Please read our comment policy.

Start typing and press Enter to search