/Life

What toxic chemicals are in artificial Christmas trees and tips for how to stay safe

Artificial or Real Christmas Tree? What's better for you and the environment.

Life

Artificial Christmas trees are becoming increasingly popular for families. They're seen as being convenient since they don't shed needles and can be reused year after year. Some even come with lights already on them! But is the convenience of artificial Christmas trees worth it? We break down the science and the pros and cons of artificial Christmas trees and farm grown real Christmas trees to help you have a healthy and sustainable Christmas!

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The holidays are right around the corner, which means we're on the hunt for cool and unique gifts! That's why we've put together gift guides for everyone on your list. Looking for non-toxic, sustainable, eco-friendly, and fun gifts for someone's home? Look no further! These are perfect gifts for all the homebodies in your life.


non-toxic and sustainable gift guide for the home

Non-Toxic and Sustainable Gifts for the Home

$: Under $50

Graf Lantz Round Felt Coasters

These wool coasters from Graf Lantz are as beautiful as they are functional. We love that they are made from a renewable resource and protect tables from unslightly stains. A perfect stocking stuffer!

Heath Ceramics Bud Vase

This sweet little ceramic bud vase from Heath Ceramics will add a fun pop of color to any room. This vase looks so good you don't even need to add flowers!

Cora Ball

Protect your clothes and the environment with this Cora Ball! Simply throw it in with your next load of laundry to catch and prevent microfiber pollution.

Branch Basics Concentrate and Glass Bottle Set

Plant-based cleaning that really works! Branch Basics concentrate is a multi-use cleaning product that is free of any harmful chemicals. Pair it with the glass bottle set for a beautiful gift as the perfect introduction to green cleaning.

$ $: Between $50-100

Treasured Lands: A Photographic Odyssey Through America's National Parks

This beautiful coffee table book brings the gift of our National Parks into the living room. There are photographs of all 62 National Parks, including maps of each park and details of where the photographs were taken. This is a must have for any nature lover.

Cocktail Collection

It's always 5 o'clock somewhere, so why not up the cocktail game with Bloomscape's potted cocktail collection! This trio sage, mint, and rosemary are perfect for garnishing or muddling and come in beautiful ceramic pots.

goop Beauty Scented Candle

Give the gift of hygge with a luxurious scented candle from goop. These candles are made with soybean wax, natural fragrances, and smell absolutely divine!

Chilote Salmon Leather House Slippers

Cool meets cozy with these Chilote House Slippers. The combination of knitted sheep wool and salmon leather (yes, salmon!) are sure to delight. Each pair is crafted through a network of independent artisan women in Patagonia and all carbon is offset supporting the Cordillera Azul National Park in Peru.

The Little Market XL Friendship Bowl

Support artisans in Rwanda with these sisal and sweetgrass Friendship bowls. Hand woven in beautiful designs, these bowls will look great perched on a shelf or nestled on a coffee table. The Little Market is our go to for fair trade and quality gifts.

Levoit Air Purifier Core300

Give the gift of clean indoor air! Banish dust, pollen, and pet dander with the Air Purifier Core300 from Levoit. The unique filtration system removes 97% of fine particles and allergens, and a streamlined design will look great in any living room.

$ $ $: Over $100

Citizenry Mercado Lidded Storage Basket

The Citizenry Mercado Lidded Storage baskets offer a chic storage solution for all of life's clutter. These baskets come in three different sizes, two colors, and are hand woven out of locally-sourced palm leaves by artisans in Mexico in a fair trade environment.

Bearaby Cotton Napper Weighted Blanket

De-stress and relax with the Bearaby Napper Weighted Blanket. Long-staple GOTS-certified organic cotton means this blanket is heavy but breathable! We love this sustainable weighted blanket and love how they don't use synthetic fibers.

Avocado Natural Latex Mattress Topper

Give the gift of better sleep with this Natural Latex Mattress Topper from Avocado! GOLS organic certified latex and GOTS organic certified wool provides incredible comfort and will upgrade any sleeping experience.

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Food

Non-Toxic and Sustainable 2020 Gift Guide for the Home Chef

Eco-friendly and non-toxic ideas for anyone who loves to cook

The holidays are right around the corner, which means we're on the hunt for cool and unique gifts! That's why we've put together gift guides for everyone on your list. Looking for non-toxic, sustainable, and fun gifts for your home chef? Look no further!



Non-Toxic and Sustainable Gifts for the Home Chef

$: Under $50

Reusable Straws

Reusable stainless steel straws are a welcome addition to any kitchen. They reduce plastic waste and are easy to clean! A great stocking stuffer for anyone on your list.

Stasher Silicone Reusable Bag

Holiday leftovers have met their match with Stasher silicone reusable bags! These plastic-free bags are reusable and have an air-tight seal that will keep food fresh.

Bee's Wrap Reusable Food Wrap

Half an avocado? Leftover sandwich? Keep food fresh with Bee's Wrap Reusable Food Wrap. These wraps are easy to clean, non toxic, and are reusable for up to a year. See you later plastic wrap!

Bread Knife

Any home baker who has mastered the sourdough boule or banana bread this year needs this knife! This beautifully crafted Tojiro Bread Slicer is made from stainless steel and will cut with ease. No smushed breads again.

Twisted Wood Salad Servers

These twisted olive wood salad servers from the Little Market are perfect for anyone who loves salads! These servers are hand carved in Kenya and feature a unique, twisted handle. We love shopping on The Little Market, nonprofit fair trade shop featuring ethically sourced, artisan-made products.

Coyuchi x White Buffalo Land Trust Bandana Napkins

Not only are cloth napkins better for the environment than paper towels, but the proceeds from these Coyuchi napkins go to a good cause! The proceeds from these GOTS certified organic + Fair Trade Certified napkins go to support the CampaignForJalama.org and the 1000 acre center for regenerative agriculture. This is a no brainer for any modern dining table and for the environment.

Equal Parts Whole-cut Oak Cutting Board

This Whole-cut Oak Cutting Board from Equal parts is sturdy and naturally antimicrobial, with no glues or fillers. A flat side for chopping and a grooved side for collecting juices adds to the versatility of this board!

Eastfolk Pottery Mug

Elevate morning coffee time with this Pottery Mug by Eastfolk. This mug comes in a beautiful array of glazes (lead-free of course!). Bonus: it's made by hand in Ashville, North Carolina and is dishwasher safe!

$ $: Between $50-100

DeBuyer Mineral Carbon Steel Pan

Say goodbye to Teflon! This De Buyer Carbon Steel Fry Pan is made from 99% pure iron and becomes non-stick after seasoning. The smooth bottom is perfect for frying up eggs and even more delicate items like fish. This is a must have for any non-toxic kitchen.

Bean Box Coffees of the World Sampler

This Bean Box Coffees of the World Sampler box is the perfect gift for any coffee lover. They will enjoy comparing the notes and flavor profiles of 16 unique coffee samples. We love that Bean Box works with roasters that have long-term, direct trading partnerships with the actual farms from whom they source coffee.

Farmhouse Pottery Classic Pie Dish

Bakers rejoice! This Ceramic Pie Dish by Farmhouse Pottery is handmade in Vermont. A white glaze (lead-free!) and scallop edges give this dish a classic finish. Dessert just tastes better when baked in nice dishware, right?

$ $ $: Over $100

Pique Tea Ultimate Immune Support Tea Crystals

Pique Tea Crystals easily dissolve in both hot and cold water, making it easy to enjoy tea wherever you are! And since they're USDA organic and made without preservatives, sugar and artificial sweeteners, you can feel good about having a cup (or two... or three...) Pique even tests for heavy metals like lead, pesticides, and mold. Gift a healthy habit!

SodaStream Aqua Fizz Sparkling Water Maker

La Croix who? This SodaSteam Aqua Fizz Sparkling Water Maker turns tap water into a bubbly beverage in seconds! We love this version with glass carafes. Add some homemade syrup or bitters for the ultimate mid-day treat.

Sarah Kersten 2 Quart Fermentation Jar

The 2 Quart Fermentation Jar by Sarah Kersten is the perfect gift for someone trying a new hobby! This compact jar helps make the most amazing sauerkraut, kimchi, or any fermented vegetables, which are super good for gut health. Plus it is beautiful enough to sit on the shelf all the time.

Misen Stainless Steel Starter Cookware Set

Good pans are a must in the kitchen. That's where the Misen Stainless Steel Starter Cookware Set comes in! A stainless steel skillet, sauté, and saucier will help cook dishes to perfection without the need for a non-stick (Teflon-like) coating. These pans will last a lifetime and are worth the investment.

Family

Non-Toxic and Sustainable 2020 Gift Guide for Teens

Yes, gifts teens will actually love that are healthy and good for the environment!

The holidays are right around the corner, which means we're on the hunt for cool and unique gifts! That's why we've put together gift guides for everyone on your list. Looking for non-toxic, sustainable, eco-friendly, and fun gifts for teens? Look no further!


non-toxic and sustainable gift guide for teens

Non-Toxic and Sustainable Gifts for Teens

$: Under $50

Succulent Studio Subscription

Gift the opportunity to become the ultimate plant parent with a succulent subscription from Succulent Studio! Choose a 3, 6, or 12 month subscription. We love that these organically-grown succulents come in compostable and not plastic pots!

Buckwheat Filled Zafu Round Cushion

Help your teem find their om with this meditation cushion. An organic cotton exterior and buckwheat hull filled interior make this cushion both comfortable and environmentally-friendly.

Felt Letterboard

We don't need to spell it out to you- this felt letterboard makes the perfect gift! This is the perfect way for any teenager to express themselves in style.

Kosas Mini Wet Set Lip Oil Gloss Trio

This trio of clean lip gloss from Kosas helps dress up any outfit! A non-sticky formula keeps lips moisturized. A great introduction to clean beauty products for any teenager.

Pela Phone Cases

We love how these Pela phone cases protect phones without generating extra plastic trash. These Pela phone cases are compostable, and will still protect phones from any unexpected drops. Plus, they come in a variety of fun colors!

Hydro Flask Standard Mouth

Hydration meets style! This Hydro Flask stainless steel water bottle is the perfect size for teenagers and comes in a bunch of fun colors.

The Good Tee Indigo Dye Kit + Good Tee Unisex

Is there anything more fun and trendy than tie dye? Help your teen channel their inner fashion designer to create cool and unique clothing with the Good Tee Indigo Dye Kit. Certified organic cotton and eco-friendly dyes certified by GOTS. Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) means minimal environmental impact, and the step-by-step guide makes this kit perfect for beginners.

$ $: Between $50-100

Boba Guys Boba Kit

Get a boba tea without having to leave the house with this kit from Boba Guys. Each kit contains enough ingredients for 10 drinks and even comes with a reusable boba straw.

National Geographic x Parks Project Legacy Tie Dye Hoodie

Elevate any teen's loungewear with this cool National Geographic x Parks Project Legacy Tie Dye Hoodie. Each sweatshirt is hand dyed in LA with organic dyes, meaning it's as good for the environment as it is for your wardrobe. Need we say that tie dye is cool again?

PhoneSoap 3 UV Smartphone Sanitizer & Charger

Because germs and Tik Tok videos don't really mix... this PhoneSoap Device sanitizes phones with UV light, killing 99.99% of all bacteria and germs. Since your teen's phone never really leaves their hands, it may as well be as clean as possible!

Cotopaxi Bogota 20L Backpack

This is a truly unique backpack. The Cotopaxi Bogota 20L backpack has a sleek design and is made from leftover fabric, which helps reduce textile waste. Each backpack is features a unique color combo, so snag the right one ASAP! We especially love Cotopaxi's fair labor practices and how they put 1% of revenue towards addressing poverty and supporting community development.

$ $ $: Over $100

Ten Thousand Villages Blue Hammock Chair

The Ten Thousand Villages Blue Hammock Chair is the perfect place to curl up with a book or do some homework. Hand woven in Nicaragua (Fair trade of course!) and beautifully crafted, this will be the perfect nook for any teen.

Bureo Ahi Performance Cruiser Skateboard

Go the extra mile on this Ahi Performance Cruiser Skateboard by Bureo. Their unique NetPlus material is made from 50 square feet of recycled fishing nets and is durable enough for all riding conditions.

The holidays are right around the corner, which means we're on the hunt for cool and unique gifts! That's why we've put together gift guides for everyone on your list. Looking for non-toxic, sustainable, eco-friendly, and fun gifts for him? Look no further!


non-toxic and sustainable gift guide for him

Non-Toxic and Sustainable Gifts For Him

$: Under $50

Lifestraw Personal Water Filter

This super portable water filter can be a life-saver, literally. Lifestraw's unique microfiltration system can turn unsafe water into drinking water in the blink of an eye. Super convenient for any just in case outdoor situation or for your emergency kit.

Keepcup reusable coffee mug

This sleek and sophisticated reusable Keepcup will become a favorite for morning coffee runs! The tempered glass body provides extra durability and protects against drops. It's also great for parents who can't seem to drink their coffee in one sitting.

Ursa Major All-Star Travel Kit

Looking to introduce someone to clean skincare? This kit from Ursa Major showcases their best products in a convenient travel kit, including deodorant, face wash, face wipes, and a recovery cream. This is the perfect way to try new clean products before committing to a full sized bottle!

Adorrgon 12x42 Binoculars

These lightweight, powerful binoculars are perfect for camping, bird watching, or even live sporting events (remember those?). 12x magnification and full-coated lens creates crystal-clear images.

Scrappy's Bitters New Classics Gift Set

This bitters gift set from Scrappy's contains lavender, cardamom, black lemon, and Orleans that are essential for any home mixologist. We love how Scrappy's uses fresh organic fruits and herbs and doesn't add any food coloring or artificial flavors. These bold flavors are super fun to play with!

Merkur Safety Razor

Banish single use plastic razors or expensive blades with this durable Merkur Safety Razor! Double edge blades and a weighty short handle will give a super close shave without skin irritation.

Stanley Classic Growler

The Stanley stainless steel growler is an easy way to transport beer from a favorite brewery to just about anywhere! The stainless steel interior will keep the beer tasting fresh without the chance of leeching harmful chemicals. It's also a great way to share home brews with family and friends.

$ $: Between $50-100

Kyrgies Classic Wool Slipper

Upgrade old, worn-out slippers to these ultra cozy Kyrgies Classic House Shoe. Handmade from felted wool, these slippers will keep feet warm during the coldest winter nights.

Flybold Slackline Kit

2020 is the perfect year to explore new hobbies, so why not try a slackline kit from Flybold? This complete kit is perfect for all skill levels and is even suitable for teenagers! Family bonding time has never been so fun!

$ $ $: Over $100

Jack Wolfskin JWP Shell Jacket

Whether the plan is to hike the Appalachians or run to the grocery store, this Jack Wolfskin Shell Jacket is perfect for every situation. The environmentally friendly TEXAPORE ECOSPHERE material keeps dry without the use of harmful PFAS chemicals.

Finex 12" cast iron skillet

Take cooking to the next level with this Finex cast iron skillet and ditch the nonstick pans (with their harmful Teflon and PFAS chemicals). Premium design combines with rigorous manufacturing standards to create a pan that your cook whipping up Michelin-quality meals with ease.

Polywood Modern Adirondack chair

Enjoy the great outdoors (even from a porch) with the Polywood Modern Adirondack Chair. These chairs are made from recycled milk jugs and detergent bottles and come in a wide arrange of colors!

The holidays are right around the corner, which means we're on the hunt for cool and unique gifts! That's why we've put together gift guides for everyone on your list. Looking for non-toxic, sustainable, eco-friendly, and fun gifts for her? Look no further!


non-toxic and sustainable 2020 gift guide for her

Non-Toxic and Sustainable Gifts for Her

$: Under $50

Aya Paper Co Retro Thank You Card Set

Hand written notes will never go out of style and this is the perfect time to reach out and connect with friends and family. These thank you cards from Aya Paper Co are printed with 100% non toxic toner on 100% PCW Recycled, PCF chlorine free paper.

Captain Blankenship Dry Shampoo Powder

No bad hair days here! Captain Blankenship Dry Shampoo Powder will keep your hair looking refreshed even when you don't have time (or motivation!) to shower. The aluminum free baking soda, organic arrowroot and kaolin clay will absorb oil without leaving any residue or nasty chemicals in your hair.

Olio E Osso Natural Lip and Cheek Balm

This Natural Lip & Cheek Balm from Olio E Osso is about to be your next makeup obsession. This multitasker comes in numerous shades (we're a big fan of Tea Rose), gives a natural glow, and is made with safe ingredients.

Skin Gym Rose Quartz

Self care gets a major upgrade with this Rose Quartz Facial Roller from Skin Gym. Natural rose quartz will help de-puff your skin and create a radiant glow. Plus it just feels good, which is good enough of a reason for us.

Herbivore Coconut Milk Bath Soak

Bring the spa to you with Herbivore's Natural Coconut Milk Bath Soak. This luxurious bath soak only contains 4 ingredients and will leave your skin soft and hydrated. This is just what you need for the perfect Friday night in.

Grown Alchemist Intensive Hand Cream

Grown Alchemist Soothing Hand Cream is perfect for hands ravaged by harsh hand sanitizer and constant hand washing. Instead of petroleum products and harsh preservatives, this hand cream has aloe vera and cactus flower extract help to relieve dry skin and keep hands moisturized.

$ $: Between $50-100

Jungmaven Jung Tee

On the hunt for the perfect t-shirt? Look no further! The Jung Tee's relaxed fit makes it perfect for any occasion. Plus, it's made from 55% hemp and 45% organic cotton! We increasingly are into hemp because it's a natural material that requires almost no pesticides, irrigation, or fertilizer to grow.

Hydro Flask Water bottle with straw lid

Hydration meets style! This Hydro Flask stainless steel water bottle is super durable and comes in a bunch of fun colors. We love the straw lid and find ourselves drinking way more water this way.

Raaka Organic Chocolate Gift Subscription

This 3 Month Gift Subscription to Raaka Chocolate is a total crowd-pleaser. Who doesn't love chocolate?! And Raaka's transparent trade policy and quality organic ingredients made this treat a no brainer.

Coyuchi Organic Waffle Robe

Stay cozy during those long winter days in this GOTS certified, organic cotton robe from Coyuchi. We guarantee it's the first thing you'll reach for in the morning and the last thing you'll have on before going to sleep.

$ $ $: Over $100

Sea Bag Mariner Stripe Tote

This cute Red Mariner Stripe Tote from Sea Bags will hold all your essentials and look good doing it. Handmade from recycled sail, this tote is the perfect work bag... even if you're just commuting to your home office!

Dry Farm Wine 6 Bottle Gift Box

Want to try natural wine but don't know where to start? Then a Dry Farm Wine gift box is perfect! It's a great introduction to organic, biodynamic, wild yeast, and more. This curated mix of reds and whites is lab-tested and delicious!

popular

Non-Toxic and Sustainable 2020 Gift Guide for Kids

Here's the key to finding a perfect non-toxic gift for kids of all ages!

The holidays are right around the corner, which means we're on the hunt for cool and unique gifts! That's why we've put together gift guides for everyone on your list. Looking for non-toxic, sustainable, eco-friendly, and fun gifts for kids? Look no further!


non-toxic and sustainable 2020 gift guide for kids

Non-Toxic and Sustainable Gifts for Kids

$: Under $50

Toysmith Beetle and Bee Paint a Bird Base, Backyard Birdhouse Kit

Welcome birds into your backyard with a fun eco-friendly project that kids will love doing. We also love that this company uses FSC certified wood.

Green Toys Dump Truck

This dump truck with some gravel or dirt gets non-stop play at our house. It's always a favorite in the sandbox too. It's super durable, yet light enough to take to the playground. Green Toys are made from recycled plastic milk containers, and contain no BPA, pthatlates, or PVC.

Oli and Carol, FLO the Floatie Natural Rubber Duckie

A rubber duckie is a favorite bath toy for a reason, but synthetic rubber is full of yucky chemicals like phthtalates. That's why we love this natural rubber version. Bubble baths just got a lot more fun!

Ocean Bingo

Beautifully illustrated twist on traditional bingo. This is a fun way to learn about ocean creatures that brings the family together. It's a simple game, but one that your family can play over and over again.

Tegu 8 Piece Pocket Pouch Magnetic Wooden Block Set

This is the perfect first building set for younger kids that will still be fun years later. We love how portable this is and can be thrown in the diaper bag for on the go fun and entertainment. Not only is the wood sustainably source, but Tegu employs local workers in Honduras and pays them a living wage. Now these are blocks we can get behind.

Kids Organic Apron + Cookbook for Young Chefs

Cooking is a great way for kids to explore new foods and flavors and get excited about healthy eating. This organic apron and the award winning Cookbook for Young Chefs is the perfect starter gift set to get any kid started in the kitchen.

Elly Lu Cupcake the Unicorn

Elly Lu makes extremely cute organic stuffies that we love. There is also a really cute book that goes along with the stuffed animal that helps the stuffed animal come to life. The cloth is OCS Certified Organic Cotton and filled with a recycled polyfill made from recycled water bottles. They also have narwhals, tigers, elephants and more!

Green Tones Glockenspiel

This is a top quality cute glockenspiel with beautiful crisp sounds. It's made from eco-friendly rubberwood and the clever designs mean that kids don't take the bars on and off. That's less cleaning up for parents!

Tender Leaf Toy Espresso Machine

If it's your dream to have your kids make your cup of coffee in the morning, this wooden espresso machine is great for pretend play. It's eco-friendly and quality made and is the perfect gift for a budding barista.

$ $: Between $50-100

Keva Contraptions Plank Set

Made from solid pine, KEVA Contraptions are a fantastic building and engineering toy for older kids. This set includes 200 wooden planks that can be used to build scaffolding, ramps, paths, and much more. Kids will have so much fun making their own Rube Goldberg machine in their living rooms.

Manners&Co TableTalk Conversation Cards

Use this set of 135 cards to spark meaningful conversations with kids at the dinner table or in the car. It's a great way to get even the most reticent little ones (and partners) thinking and talking. There's a good variety of topics that can be revisited time and time again.

Hape Scientific Workbench

A fun and quality workbench that will inspire kids to experiment and tinker. This set includes contains everything children as young as four need to conduct over 15 experiments and learn basic scientific principles. Made of FSC certified wood like all Hape toys.

Poppie Toys Rattan Doll Crib

This beautiful doll crib is made from sustainably sourced rattan and cotton. It is a heirloom piece that will inspire hours of pretend open-ended play. The fact that it's beautiful enough to fit in with your decor is just a bonus.

$ $ $ : Over $100

Origial Wobbel Board

This quality balance board promotes balance and creativity. The board can be used a bridge, boat, and anything else they can imagine! This board is made with European FSC beech wood and even adults will have fun with it.

LL Bean Kids Pull Sled

A heirloom quality pull sled for the littlest snow explorers. We love that it's beautiful enough to function as holiday decor when it's not in use. We also love that it's not plastic, which inevitably cracks and breaks and contributes to our plastic pollution problem.

Science

The Health Impacts of Microplastics

These small pieces pose a big risk

In today's world, plastic is everywhere, buildings, cars, packaging, machinery - the list is nearly endless. There's really no place you won't find it. Despite its utility, there are a host of problems associated with plastics (1, 2). You've likely heard of the impact that larger pieces of discarded plastic can have - for instance plastic straws finding their way into the ocean.

Unfortunately, there are even smaller pieces of plastic in the environment that you can't see: microplastics. Approximately 50 trillion pieces of microplastics are estimated to be currently polluting the ocean (3). They have been found in seawater, freshwater, sediment, soil, and air. Microplastics have even made their way into our food and drinks, such as beer, tap water, and sea salt (4).

So what dangers do microplastics pose? And what simple steps can you take to limit their pollution? Read on and find out!

What Are Microplastics?

Microplastics are tiny plastic particles, less than 5 millimeters long. They can be generally separated into two categories: primary microplastics and secondary microplastics (5).

Primary microplastics are plastics that were originally manufactured to be, well, micro. Already less than 5 millimeters when created, they are found in textiles, medicines, and personal care products like facial scrubs or toothpaste (4, 5). Secondary microplastics, on the other hand, are fragments of larger plastics like fishing nets or household products. This fragmentation occurs due to physical, chemical, and biological interaction with the environment such as sunlight exposure (often termed photodegradation) or wind abrasion (5).

The microplastics found in the environment today originate from both land- and ocean-based human activity. Ocean-based sources, like commercial fishing and other marine-based operations, make up about 20% of the total microplastics found while land-based sources make up the other 80%. These land-based sources, like the personal care products mentioned earlier (e.g., toothpaste, facial scrubs), air-blasting processes, microfibers from synthetic materials, and improperly disposed runoff from landfills, bleed into rivers and find their way into oceans as well (5).

The health effects of microplastics are still being studied, but there is potential for harm

Microplastics can be ingested in drinks or food, inhaled through airborne exposure, or contact with particles on skin (5-7).

For animals, especially marine organisms, ingestion of microplastics represents the largest threat. A research team has suggested that there is a correlation between poor fitness of seabirds and ingestion of plastic debris (5). Zebrafish with accumulated ingested microplastics have had altered locomotion, intestinal damage, and change in metabolic profiles (5).

Humans can ingest microplastics in beer, bottled water, even sea salt. And when marine animals ingest it from the ocean, they can act as vectors, carrying it to humans when we eat seafood (5, 7, 8).

While ingestion affects both humans and animals, airborne exposure to microplastics is becoming more worrisome to humans. We can potentially breathe in microplastics through synthetic textiles, erosion of rubber tires, or city dust (5, 6).

No matter what route they take, we know these microplastics are indeed getting into our bodies. What we don't yet know is how long they stay, what accumulates in our systems if they do stay, and what the health effects of chronic ingestion might be. Although research is still ongoing, some potential health effects that may be linked to concentrations of ingested microplastics are metabolic disruption, immune dysfunction, neurodegenerative diseases, and chronic inflammation, which can lead to cancer (4-6).

Here's how you can help prevent microplastic pollution

Microplastic pollution within our ecosystems may seem impossible for us to stop on an individual level. But there are ways you can reduce your contribution to pollution of microplastics as well as your personal exposure!

Drink less bottled water

Research has shown that Americans who get their recommended amount of daily water from only bottled sources have almost 20 times the exposure compared to Americans who only drink tap water (7)! So here are some simple ways to reduce exposure:

  1. Leave the bottled water at the store and go with the tap at home.
  2. Invest in a simple screw-on water purifier for the faucet if the tap water taste bugs you.
  3. Get a reusable (preferable glass or stainless steel) bottle for tap water on the go.

Disclaimer: if there are major health issues with your tap water (like the lead for instance), those health effects should take precedent and bottled water is okay!

Reduce your use of plastics, especially the single-use variety

Since plastics are so cheap to produce, it often makes them an ideal material for single-use disposable devices (1). Unfortunately, less than 10% of all plastic is actually recycled (10). On top of that, plastics don't chemically degrade very well - instead they break up into smaller and smaller pieces (1, 5). Reducing your single-use plastics may seem difficult, but there are many ways to do it! Here are a few:

  1. Cook a few extra times a week instead of ordering takeout that comes in plastic containers.
  2. Leave the Ziplock bags on the shelf and store leftovers in glass containers.
  3. Switch to brands of tea that don't use single-use plastic!
  4. Buy less packaged or processed foods in plastic packaging.

Change your laundry habits

Another large source of microplastics are microfibers, the microplastics found in synthetic fabrics, like fleece (9). Even cotton jeans and t-shirts can have a lot of synthetics blended into them! Machine washing synthetic clothing is one of the easiest ways for microplastics to find their way into the water supply. During the wash cycle, microplastics siphon off through home drains which then runs into water treatment plants that are not yet equipped to catch microplastics. Once the water is released back into the environment, pollution occurs. We've talked through some of the ways to limit microfibers in your laundry before, but let's run through a few again! You can:

1. Wash with cold water and avoid delicate cycles that use high water volumes.

2. Use less detergent, and do not use bleach!

3. Fill up your machine and avoid washing bulky items like shoes with synthetic fabrics.

4. If you have the option, use a front loading washing machine! They require less water and less vigorous washing for the same cleanliness. Additionally, if you're in the market for a new machine, you can look for those with technological improvements that can trap these particles in the future.

5. Consider getting a laundry bag or Cora ball - each of these catches microfibers so particles cannot get into the water supply.

6. Purchase clothing made of natural materials like cotton or linen - these materials don't shed any microfibers and are often softer, more breathable, and last longer!



References:

1) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23337043/

2) https://www.ciel.org/reports/plastic-health-the-hidden-costs-of-a-plastic-planet-february-2019/

3) https://www.sas.org.uk/our-work/plastic-pollution/plastic-pollution-facts-figures/

4) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0048969719344468

5) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0043135417310515

6) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0269749117307686

7) https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.est.9b01517

8) https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40572-018-0206-z

9) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30368178/

10)https://www.epa.gov/facts-and-figures-about-materials-waste-and-recycling/plastics-material-specific-data
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