Plastic surrounds, invades, and contaminates us. It contaminates our rivers, seas, and our bodies.
Here at Amapola we want to clear up how plastics affect our bodies and the environment, and what we can do to minimize their impact.
Plastic is an omnipresent element in our days. It makes up food containers, toys, clothes, cosmetics, purses, curtains, and utensils. It is estimated that in one year about 100 million tons of plastics are produced and a majority of these end up in oceans and seas, forming 80% of marine trash. And it doesn’t just contaminate the environment, plastics also have a harmful effect on our health.
It has been years since the scientific community and environmental organizations have reported that our seas are infested with plastics. In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, between California and Hawaii, there is a huge plastic island of about 1.5 million square kilometers, and they others have appeared on the coasts of Chile and Mexico.
But without going so far, here, in our Mediterranean Sea, the density of plastics is comparable to the zones with the most accumulation: one piece for every 4 square meters. This is affecting many marine species such as cetaceans, fish, birds, and sharks, who become trapped in the waste or can ingest the plastic until it causes death.
And how do these containers get into the sea? Generally, because of a poor waste management system. In many countries, they simply don’t exist or do not operate correctly.
But it is not only packaging that causes this problem. Miles of microplastics, including microbeads that are present in many exfoliating products or used as vehicles for medication are flushed down our drains leading to our sanitation systems that go to the sea.
How do plastics affect our health?
The majority of conventional cosmetics (not ecological) use perfumes to add a pleasing scent to their formulas. These perfumes are complicated blends of more than 100 scented substances that accompany the fixative of the perfume: phthalates. These same phthalates, like Bisphenol A, are used to give elasticity to plastic.
Phthalates are endocrine disruptors, meaning they interfere with hormonal behavior and can cause harm to our pulmonary levels, the development of the reproductive system, can alter our bodies performance or cause breast cancer. The waste products of these cosmetics can also enter our rivers and create hormonal changes in fish. Dr. Nicolás Olea, of the University of Granada, has researched this topic extensively, and this is what he has to say about endocrine disruptors. See the video.
The outlook is not very encouraging.
What can we do as manufactures?
As manufactures of ecological cosmetics, we always have to keep in mind, not only the contents of the cosmetics, but also where we package them and how we can create the smallest possible amount of waste and not leave a footprint. This is what we would like, but what can we do to get there?
When we have to choose new packaging for one of our cosmetics, we don’t have many options: a plastic or glass container. We choose glass containers for some of our formulas, but this type of container is incompatible with some of our more fluid creams. It is complicated to apply this cream well and make it last, and the container can also break, weighs more, and requires the use of more packing material to send them without breaking them.
When we choose a plastic container, for more liquid formulas that can’t be put in glass containers, they can be easily transported, you can bring them in your bag or purse, to the beach, out shopping, etc…We choose ones that are approved by the certifying agency, that are within the safest categories of plastics (1,2,4, or 5)
This is what we can do for the moment, but we are not totally satisfied and want to go a little further.
The problem with single-use plastics and their subsequent recycling is a problem that affects our planet, and because of this, we must demand (from our modest position) that our suppliers and manufactures dedicate resources to the research and investigation of new material for cosmetic containers that are biodegradable and don’t generate waste.
We have begun to do investigations of this sort and we are already closer to an alternative, but at the moment there is not packaging for cosmetic products on the market that meet these requirements.
On the other hand, we have to realize that whatever packaging or container we use must be compatible with the product it contains, and this is not always easy with essential oils and vegetable oils.
Additionally, the packaging has to prevent the product from spoiling and protect against microbial contamination.
How do we identify the safest plastics?
All plastic containers are classified with an identification code, which is the number located on the bottom of the container. The most toxic plastics are 7, 3, and 6. The safer plastics are 1, 2, 4, and 5.
Types of Plastics: The Green Blog
- 1. PET (Polyethylene terephthalate).PET is primarily use in the production of bottles for drinks, such as water or soda. By recycling them we primarily obtain fibers to fill sleeping bags or pillows, or fibers for carpets and ropes.
- 2. HDPE (High-density polyethylene). HDPE is normally used for milk jugs, detergent bottles, motor oil bottles, etc. After being recycled HDPE is used for flowerpots, trash bins, and detergent bottles.
- 3. PVC (Polyvinyl chloride). PVC is used in shampoo bottles, cooking oil bottles, plastic utensils, etc. PVC can be recycled as drainage and irrigation tubes.
- 4. LDPE (Low-density polyethylene). LPDE is found in plastic bags, bags for bread, and shrink wrap. LDPE can be recycled into new plastic bags for the supermarket.
- 5. PP (Polypropylene). PP is mainly used in containers for yogurt or sorbet, bottle caps, etc. When recycled, PP can be used as plastic joists, ladders for drainage pipes (?) and boxes for car batteries.
- 6. PS (Polystyrene). Polystyrene is found in disposable coffee mugs or in the containers that meat is sold in. PS can be recycled into plastic joists, cassette tapes, and flowerpots.
- 7. Other. Generally, this indicates a mix of various plastics. Some products of this type are squeezable ketchup bottles, plates for microwave ovens, etc. These plastics can’t be recycled because we don’t know with certainty the types of resins they contain.
Seven things you can do to reduce plastic contamination:
- Prioritize buying bottles and containers that are reusable or returnable.
- Avoid single-use plastic bags. Use bags made of fabric, baskets, or shopping trolleys.
- Rejects single-use containers and utensils like glasses, cutlery, or straws.
- Deposit the plastic waste in the appropriate container.
- Sign the petition to demand that the Spanish government protects the oceans from plastics.
- Avoid an excessive use of packing materials, for example, Styrofoam trays, and prioritize buying products in bulk.
- Check the ingredients of your cosmetics and avoid products with microplastics: polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), PET, PMMA, and or nylon.
YOU WON’T FIND THEM AT AMAPOLA.