It’s pretty hard to avoid microplastics entirely, but you can lessen your exposure while reducing how many microplastics you put into the world. Here are five easy ways to avoid microplastics, plus a few “extra credit” tasks if you’re feeling ambitious.
1. Switch up how you wash and dry your clothes
If you’ve got the space (and the climate), air dry your clothes when possible. Using a dryer creates friction between fibers, which releases microplastics from synthetic fabrics. You can also reduce microplastic shedding on laundry day by investing in a GUPPYFRIEND bag, which is designed to trap the problematic fibers.
Dryer sheets are another sneaky culprit of microplastic pollution, since they’re often made from polyester — a common plastic used in the textile industry. Swap your dryer sheets for wool dryer balls instead. They work just as effectively to reduce static and soften your clothes, all without shedding microplastics onto your favorite pair of jeans.
Extra credit: Choose natural fibers when you can. Microplastic fibers make up 35 percent of all the plastic particles in the ocean, and each time you wash synthetic fabrics like nylon, polyester, microfiber cloths, and Lycra, around 9 million microplastics swarm wastewater treatment plants. Because cotton, linen, and wool are natural fibers that break down in the environment, they don’t contribute to the microplastic plague.
2. Don’t microwave food in plastic containers
Not only do plastic containers shed plastic particles that could end up in our food, they also contain chemicals that leach into your leftovers when you use the microwave. Upgrade your lunchbox with glass tupperware as an eco-friendly and microwavable alternative to plastic.
Extra credit: Go the extra mile and reduce plastic in your pantry, too. Replacing plastic containers with glass jars and stainless steel containers helps cut down on your overall plastic consumption while making it that much easier to avoid potential microplastic contamination in your food.
3. Avoid drinking from plastic bottles
Bottled water is one of the largest contributors to microplastic ingestion, coming in at 100 microplastics per liter — and it contains 50 percent more microplastics than tap water. Ditch the single-use plastic bottles, and opt for a stainless steel water bottle instead.
Extra credit: Outfit your sink with a water filter. While tap water has fewer microplastics than bottled water, people still consume around 4,000 plastic particles from tap water every year. Because microplastics are 5 millimeters or smaller, a water filter with a pore size of less than 0.1 micrometers should be effective at removing microplastics.
4. Find reusable alternatives to single-use products
Put a dent in your plastic consumption with reusable alternatives to single-use products. Easy swaps like reusable food wrap instead of plastic wrap are real game-changers when it comes to cutting down on microplastics in your home. You can also check out our reusable alternatives to wishcycled items for ideas on how to replace items you wish you could recycle, but can’t.
Extra credit: Take the next step, and go zero waste. It might sound intimidating to cut out all the plastic from your home, but we’ve got six quick tips that make going zero waste a breeze.
5. Clean up your beauty routine
Plastic microbeads are a major contributor to plastic pollution in our oceans and soil. These tiny balls of plastic are marketed as “exfoliating beads” in face and body washes, but they pollute the environment when they’re washed down the drain. Choose personal care products that use natural exfoliators instead.
Extra credit: Switch to no plastic waste personal care with products from brands like Peach. This plant-based line of waterless personal care products includes face wash, shampoo, conditioner, face soaps, and deodorant — all in plastic-free packaging.