The 8 Hidden Plastics You Didn't Know About

The 8 Hidden Plastics You Didn't Know About

Did you know a plastic bottle can take around 500 years to break down? Plastic toothbrush… also 500 years! We, humans, created the plastic problem, and we are finally starting to notice it. Microplastics can be created as plastic starts to break down and degrade and find its way into our environment. Microplastics are in our seas and earth. The particles have been revealed in the placentas of unborn babies!

The 8 Hidden Plastics You Didn't Know About 


UK prints over 11 billion receipts… receipts that are non-recyclable because they're made from more than one material and therefore impossible to separate. However, they also contain a combination of potentially harmful BPA and BPS chemicals. What to do? If you really need a receipt, the best solution is to ask for them to be emailed, rather than printed.


Yes, you have read that right…you have very likely been chewing on plastic. The ingredient listed as gum base in many gum formulas is essentially plastic. This is what gives the gum its chewiness. It also makes so much more sense now that Singapore introduced the ban on chewing gum in 1992! According to a study commissioned by Iceland, 85% of people didn't know there was plastic in gum. The result? Iceland has started selling plant-based gum.


Don’t we love the supposedly eco-friendly paper coffee cups?  Beware! Although they appear to be made from paper (and are often marketed in that way), they usually contain a plastic lining inside the cup to make them waterproof. Time to invest in your own reusable coffee cup.


This is another item where it is not just the packaging that contains plastic - the teabags! They have traditionally been sealed with a very small amount of plastic - made from oil. Luckily, plastic awareness grows every day. PG Tips has completed its transition to become completely plastic-free. Their transition made an impact, with a massive 757 tonnes of oil-based plastic saved from using biodegradable teabags and 46 tonnes of plastic saved from the overwrap being removed.


Many tampon brands include a thin layer of plastic in the absorbent part (polyethylene, the most common form of plastic, and polypropylene, which is the plastic used in teabags and chocolate bar wrappers) and the dangling strings are braided with plastic. Pads are far worse: from the leak-proof base to the synthetics that soak up fluid to the packaging… all plastic. It’s estimated they are made up of 90% plastic. One pack of pads is and equivalent to four plastic bags.


The filter portion of the cigarette contains plastic fibres that leach toxic chemicals into the marine environment. Cigarette butts are the most littered item in the world! Responsible for roughly 30-40% of all litter collected from coastal and urban clean-ups. Good news though: the UK explores the next steps to clean up tobacco litter in England. Tobacco companies may have to pay for the litter created by cigarettes after fresh evidence reveals that cleaning up littered cigarette butts currently costs UK local authorities around £40 million per year. 


Microplastics were found in sea salt several years ago. The research shows microplastics were present in 90 percent of the table salt brands sampled worldwide. You could be eating 5 grams of plastic each week. Let’s just let it sink in…


Microplastics, again. Lots of wet wipes contain plastic and can't be flushed down the toilet because they don't break down in the sewers and can cause blockages and plastic pollution. In 2020 volunteers collected an average of 18 wet wipes per 100 metres on UK beaches, making them the third most common litter item found. The Marine Conservation Society wants all shops selling wet wipes to sign up to a specific test to get an official 'Fine to Flush' certificate. This is a label on wipes that have been tested against Water Industry Specifications to make sure that it completely breaks down if flushed down the toilet.

It does not take 1 day to become an eco-conscious consumer. Information is key! Once we are aware that plastic pretty much hides in plain sight, we can make much better decisions. And get a little bit closer to sustainable living, and maybe one day, to a zero-waste lifestyle.