Hidden Plastic In Everyday Stuff

We’re all trying to be all zero waste and eco-friendly running away from plastic 24×7.

But what can we do when plastic is where we least expect it? When we think we’re doing something nice that turns out to be bad for the environment?

Let’s go over some hidden plastic on stuff we use in our daily lives that probably you didn’t expect. And tbh, they are all places where plastic shouldn’t be AT ALL.

1. Tea bags

This topic was breaking news a couple of weeks ago and threw the world for a loop.

Many companies use a thingy called polypropylene to close the tea bags. This makes it impossible to compost (because they have plastic) or recycle (because that plastic, even if it’s recyclable, is ‘stuck’ to the bag) them.

Researchers have also found that these bags release around 11.6 billion microplastics and 3.1 billion nanoplastics into your cuppa when they touch the hot water.

And think about this: before this estimate, it was thought that we eat on average 50,000 microplastics annually – and breathe other 50,000 or so.

How to avoid them?

Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Use loose leaf tea. It tastes better, it’s usually cheaper, you can find more variety of flavors, and is plastic and crap-free.

You can make it in the traditional teapot, or in a French press like this beauty. I have one that I use for literally everything: from brewing tea and coffee to making nut milk.

But if you still think tea bags are your thing, there are some companies that can prove their sachets are 100% plastic-free.

2. Chewing gum

Are you telling me I’ve spent my childhood  chewing on pieces of plastic? Well, yeah.

There’s a plastic-free way to make chewing gum using the natural rubber from a tree called chicle tree (fun fact: chicle means chewing gum in Spanish #themoreyouknow).

But at some point we decided to add polyethylene and polyvinyl acetate, and some other scary ingredients to make them. No biggie.

Oh, and actually we’re not quite sure whether these things are toxic or not.

How to avoid this?

If you’re an avid chewer, fret not! There are actually a few plastic-free chewing gum options in the market.

Some of which are actually pretty easy to find even online.

  • Falim – made of the resin of the mastic tree, common in Turkey and Greece (they use it to make ice cream, too!)
  • Simply gum – this one is super cool because of all the flavors they offer
  • Glee gum

They are all made with natural ingredients and 100% biodegradable.

3. Glass bottle caps

The metallic caps on your bottled fizzy drink? If you take a close look, you’ll see that there is this soft silicone-y layer.

This is polyethylene, used to prevent the metal from contaminating your drink. Yummy.

The good news is you can recycle them. Just recycle them with the rest of your metal, the plastic layer will burn when the metal is processed.

How to avoid them?

We’re not going to give up our bubbly fizzy drinks – nor our beer –, let’s be realistic. I guess we just have to wait until companies realize that they can do better, and find an alternative to this plastic.

In the meantime, grab a bottle of Rose. We have no problem with corks here.

4. Tampons and pads

Maybe this is more obvious in pads – the sticky lining from the bottom feels pretty plasticky.

But tampons always have some hidden plastic – and not only the ones with plastic applicators. It seems they are too small to have hidden plastic somewhere. But turns out many brands put a plastic layer around the cottony core to make it more compact, and/or on the string to make it stronger.

This is supposed to make the whole ordeal easier and more comfortable. But EW.

How to avoid this?

You have many many options.

If you want to stick to disposable products – sometimes it’s more convenient, we cannot deny that – check brands like Natracare. They are plastic free, GMO-free, and all in all toxic-stuff-free.

If you want to give reusable options a go, you have hundreds of menstrual cup and fabric pads out there.

5. Cigarette butts

Do you need a new reason to quit smoking? Then keep reading.

18 billion cigarettes are bought every.single.day. And many people think that the filters on the cigarettes are recyclable or biodegradable.

But they’re actually made of a plastic fiber called cellulose acetate, exactly the same thing they were using in the 50s when companies started using filters.

This filter takes some of the chemicals so the smoker doesn’t ‘swallow’ too much tar and nicotine, and the chemicals from the cigarette get stuck in there.

So when you toss the butt, it will:

So…what about electronic cigarettes? Are they the solution?

Actually no! The cartridge from e-cigarettes is rarely recyclable – it always depends on where you live.

The first generations of e-cigarettes were 100% single-use, and they were completely made of plastic. And to this day – almost 20 years after they appeared – they are one of the main items found in beach clean-ups!

How to avoid this?

Don’t smoke. It’s terrible.

But if you do, use biodegradable filters. 

6.  Glitter

All that glitters is not gold. Sometimes it’s just shiny plastic.

Glitter is actually an extremely pollutant microplastic that we, humans, produce. Intentionally. Like, seriously.

You know, all my life I’ve complained about what a pain in the ass it is to clean glitter. You use it once and you’ll find it on your pillow for the next decade.

But actually jokes on us, we shouldn’t be using glitter! Or at least not the ‘traditional’ kind of glitter.

How to avoid this?

There are many companies selling eco-friendly and biodegradable glitter made from cellulose instead of plastic, like this one. 

It looks equally fabulous and extra and shiny, with 0% eco guilt.


Did you know about hidden plastic before?

It’s actually terrifying in how many products it can be found, don’t you think so?

I hope you dive in and make these changes, they are preeeety easy, and you’ll be saving a lot of plastic from the landfill very fast.

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