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Single-use plastics: Source, impact and control of microplastics

Join us in this movement as we try to do our bit by spreading awareness about single-use plastics!

Apoorva Gupta Edited by: Apoorva Gupta New Delhi Updated on: October 01, 2019 22:05 IST
Single-use plastics: Source, Impact and Control of

Single-use plastics: Source, Impact and Control of Microplastics

In the second explainer of the anti-plastic series, where we are going to talk about a sub-category of the major pollution causing single-use plastics: microplastics.

Join us in this movement as we try to do our bit by spreading awareness about single-use plastics!

What are microplastics?

India Tv - Single use plastic

Single use plastic

Microplastics are very tiny pieces of plastic, usually less than 5 mm in size that come from variety of sources, most of which we use on an everyday basis. They are the biggest chaos creators in our environment right now with their presence recorded everywhere -- from water to air to soil and of course, wildlife. Though majorly a by-product of single-use plastics, microplastics are also produced intentionally to be used in many products that we use on an everyday basis.

MUST READ | Single-use plastics: Origin, scale and the real problem

Sources of Microplastics:

Single-use plastics -- as a direct form of microplastics

Clothing industry -- in the form of microplastic fibres
Cosmetic industry -- in the form of microbeads.


Microplastics pollute the environment in ways we cannot even imagine. They are flushed down our toilets; the washing machines in our homes catch the microfibres from our synthetic clothes and push it down the drain that eventually meets the water bodies. Marine animals eat it without even realising and they, in turn, are eaten by humans, often causing cancer. The same water from the water bodies is also used to irrigate our land, on which our food and plants grow. Hence, they are present everywhere.

How to help?

1. Stop using scrubs and other cosmetic products that contain microbeads in them

India Tv - Cosmetic Products

Cosmetic Products

The face scrub that claims to remove all your blackheads contains small bits of plastic that end up in the oceans and soil. Microbeads are small little bits of plastic commonly used in the cosmetic industry in products like scrubs, face washes and toothpaste.

2. Switch to organic items of clothing and ditch fast-fashion chains

India Tv - Fast Fashion

Fast Fashion

Probably the clothes you are wearing -- while you go through this article -- also contain plastic in them. Yes, plastics are found everywhere, even in your clothes. Most fast-fashion chains running today use plastic mixed fibres that eventually create microplastic fibres as they are washed over and over again.

3. Use fewer cloth dryers

India Tv - Cloth Dryer

Cloth Dryer

We understand that going completely organic when it comes to clothes will limit down your options massively and also be quite heavy on your pocket. So we suggest you the easy way. Avoid using cloth dryers and choose to air-dry your clothes as much as possible. This will limit the number of microfibers being released into the atmosphere. 

4. Avoid single-use plastics as much as you can

India Tv - Single use plastic

Single use plastic

Single-use plastics are one of the biggest sources of microplastics as they are often run down by the water, broken down by physical action and disintegrate into smaller pieces under the sun and turn into microplastics. So the best way to curb the production of microplastics is to ditch single-use plastics as much as possible.

We will talk about ways to cut down single use plastics in our next segment in detail. 

5. Learn to open plastic packets the right way

India Tv - Packets


Each time you open a milk or a chips' packet, you are creating microplastics without even realising. You ask how? 

Well, most of us have a tendency of cutting off the tip of milk packets and tearing off the edge of the plastic packet. The little plastic piece that gets separated from the packet is not recycled and becomes a major source of microplastics. The best way to open the packet is cut it in a manner that the cut bit stays with the main packet. Trust us, just by doing this one bit you will be cutting down microplastic creation by leaps and bounds.

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