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How microplastics get into our environment and bodies

Geschrieben von: Maya von SOLTAKO



Lesezeit min

Microplastics - An invisible threat to the environment and humans

Microplastics are a pervasive problem threatening the environment and our health. These are tiny particles made of plastics such as polyethylene and polypropylene and are usually smaller than 5mm. These particles enter our environment and food in a variety of ways.

In this blog article we explain the process by which microplastics get into our seas , what dangers it poses to us and our environment and what we can do about it.

Definition of microplastics

Microplastic refers to small plastic particles that are smaller than 5 millimeters and are often not visible to the naked eye. These particles can either be produced intentionally, such as in cosmetics or cleaning products, or are created as waste products from the degradation of larger plastic objects, such as bottles or packaging. Microplastics can occur in various forms, such as pellets, fibers, or fragments, and can enter the environment through a variety of routes, including air, water, and soil pollution.

How does microplastic get into our oceans?

The amount of plastic that ends up in our environment is shockingly high. According to a 2016 study by the World Economic Forum (WEF), around 311 million tons of plastic are produced worldwide every year, of which 8 million tons end up in the oceans¹. This pollution has a dramatic impact on the marine ecosystem and can also impact human health as microplastics enter our food chain.

Plastic enters the sea in a number of ways. A large part comes from land and is transported to the sea via rivers or the wind. Lost or intentionally discarded plastic from ships also contributes to pollution. There is also plastic waste that is created directly in the sea, for example from fishing or garbage left by tourists.

Infographic how plastic or microplastics get into our food

How long does microplastic take to degrade?

Most plastic parts take hundreds of years to degrade. But when they end up in the ocean, the sun, salt water and waves break them down into tiny particles called microplastics.

These microplastic particles can be ingested by marine life and eventually end up back on our plates when we eat fish.

Degradation times of plastic in the sea

How harmful is it for us to eat microplastics?

The effects of microplastics on our health are not yet fully understood, but there is already evidence that they can be harmful.

A 2019 study estimated that the average human ingests between 74,000 and 121,000 microplastic particles a year through food². Another study found that microplastics could be found in the bodies of people who eat seafood³.

Why you should avoid plastic kitchen utensils

Another factor that can contribute to the ingestion of microplastics is plastic kitchen utensils. When heated or cut, small particles can be removed and get into our food.

When plastic is heated to high temperatures, it can release toxic chemicals that can be harmful to your health.

A study found that using plastic cookware releases an increased amount of microplastic particles in food, especially when it is heated to high temperatures.

For this reason, it makes sense to switch to kitchen utensils made from natural materials such as olive wood.

Why olive wood is a good alternative to plastic

Olive wood has established itself as a promising alternative to plastic in recent years. It offers many advantages over plastic, both from an environmental and health point of view.

  • Olive wood is a more sustainable alternative to plastic kitchenware as it is made from a renewable resource and is biodegradable. Olive trees grow in dry areas and do not require an additional irrigation system. Using olive wood as a material for kitchen utensils or other items also helps reduce wood waste, as it is usually harvested from trees that have already been felled for the production of olive oil. In contrast, plastic is a non-renewable resource and can take centuries to degrade.

  • Olive wood is very durable and sturdy , which means it doesn't wear out as quickly as plastic kitchen utensils. This in turn reduces the risk of releasing microplastic particles.

  • In addition, olive wood has natural antibacterial properties that can help inhibit bacterial growth on the surface of the wood. In comparison, plastic can encourage bacterial build-up and growth, which can result in utensils needing to be replaced more quickly.

  • Olive wood possesses a natural beauty and unique grain that makes it an attractive material for kitchen utensils and other items. It brings a piece of Mediterranean culture into our kitchens and homes.

Overall, olive wood is an eco-friendly and sustainable alternative to plastic that offers many benefits and is growing in popularity.