Plastic is entering the human body every day. Tiny pieces of plastic, known as microplastics, exist everywhere: in our rivers, soil and seas. Animals often consume them and thus microplastics also invade our food chain. They are present in the air we breathe and pose a serious risk to health.
Latest research shows that one kilogramme of sea salt contains 600 microplastic fibres, while one kilogramme of honey has 660 fibres. Other studies have found that 87% of humans have plastic in their lungs from inhaling microplastics in the air.
Health risks from plastics come from the way we buy, store and prepare food. Buying food items in plastic bags and heating them up in plastic containers allows dangerous chemicals from plastics to be absorbed into the food.
Drinking bottled water is another way microplastics enter our body. Experts say it is the biggest source of microplastic consumption.
“Even if we stop using plastics now, who knows how many years it will take for the effect to go away completely. Right now I believe it’s impossible to eliminate it completely from our lives. But there are some things we can stop using immediately. The first is single-use polythene bags,” said environmentalist Tofiq Pasha on SAMAA TV’s programme Naya Din on Monday.
He spoke about going back to using traditional methods in life instead of relying on plastics. Pasha said that around 30-35 years ago, there was no concept of using plastic in Pakistan. We never bought our groceries, food and clothes in plastic bags, he said.
He added that rising consumerism and population rates might make it seem like it is impossible to get rid of plastic, but it had become necessary to shift to alternatives now.
Pasha said it was human nature to resist change but unless people switched to alternatives such as metal boxes, steel bottles and straw bags, the future generations would be doomed.
“I’ve even coined a slogan: mein tou theli ka qeydi nahi hoon. Kya aap hai? [I am not a prisoner of plastic. Are you?]” said Pasha.