Yes, you are reading it right.
We are so surrounded with plastics that they are in our food as well. Being from India I am a huge fan of tea myself. It is part of my daily routine to have a cup of tea in the morning and evening.
I still remember the way my mom used to make tea in a teapot with a soothing fragrance of tea in our whole house. But now life has become very busy and people usually don’t have time to make tea with loose leaves, so many people have shifted to tea bags instead.
But is this the right shift for our health and our environment?
According to researchers a single bag of tea contains and releases around 11.6 billion microplastic particles. These particles are of size between 100 nanometers to 5 millimeters. So small that it is difficult to see them through naked eyes.
Just how bad is this?
Microplastics research is very new and that is the reason that it is still hard to tell the exact impact of the microplastics on humans and the degree of impact. But knowing the amount of intake we are having from every bite of food we take, water we drink, clothes we wear; one thing is known that it definitely has an effect on all living beings.
Talking about food, microplastics are found the most in seafoods and this concentration is increasing every year. The main reason for this that organisms are not able to differentiate between food and plastic and they ingest in the small plastic items thrown in water by humans.
Microplastics have become part of food chain. The ingestion of small particles of plastic causes physical, chemical and biological changes in the organisms.
Research upon the impact is ongoing and looking upon the concentration of its presence in environment it looks like that this research is never ending research. Thousands of facts will also fall short for the information that could be collected from its deep digging research.
Where does Microplastics come from?
Microplastics are majorly found in water bodies like rivers, oceans and seas. They are widely distributed and cover almost entire globe.
It is found that the highest concentration of microplastics is found in European waters at the merge of Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean and the count there is 307 particles of microplastic per cubic metre. Researches have found maximum concentration of these particles in the samples taken from very densely populated areas like HongKong, India and areas where ocean currents tend to leave marine remains on surface like Great Australian Bight and along the Melbourne coasts.
What could be done for Microplastic Management
The highest reason and we can even call it the root cause of this environmental issue is plastic remains.
There is huge exponential increase in production of plastic. In 1950, the production of plastic was merely two million metric tons annually which has now increased to a shocking number of 300 million metric tons. It is projected that this will touch to around 33 billion metric tons annually by 2050.
Why do we need so much of plastic?
First step towards this management control is limiting the use of single use plastic items like water bottles, plastic shopping bags, straws and utensils. All the items that we throw In the recycled section are never even recycled. In Europe on 30% of the recyclable items are recycled, in US only 9%. US used to export its all recyclable waste to China for management but now china has also closed its doors.
Introduction of these was never a need but a convenience. But can we handle this convenience at the cost of environment where we are living. Plastic is usually recycled by shredding it, melting it and molding into new plastic products. Even if we try to recycle all the plastic, there are many complications that arise in recycling many plastic items which are designed in a way that they are hard to break, have many toxic chemicals used to make them strong, give colour and other features.
Another step that need to be taken by government is strengthening the garbage collection process.
This is very common but mostly goes unnoticed that there is huge amount trash that is wasted and exposed to the environment in the process of garbage collection from bins to landfill.
Researchers have recently found certain kind of enzymes and bacteria, the introduction of which could breakdown certain type of plastic. But the challenge here is that they need to figure out and be sure that the introduction of these in the environment will not have any potential negative side effects such as producing greenhouse gases.
While these methods are being considered the bottom line is cutting of the use of excessive plastic introduced in the society just for convenience but not as a necessity.
Having tea should bring you happiness...... not plastic !!