The Impact of Microplastics on the Environment

The Impact of Microplastics on the Environment

Microplastic pollution is an increasingly concerning environmental issue, with our oceans and freshwater systems becoming increasingly inundated with tiny particles of plastic. These microplastics are both, directly and indirectly entering the marine environment through a combination of deliberate dumping activities, inadvertent leakage during the production processes and the breakdown of larger plastic pieces into smaller ones.

Despite their small size, microplastics can have a huge impact. This is why education is key to eliminating these tiny little particles. In this article, we will take a closer look at microplastics and explain what can be done to make a positive impact.

Impact of Microplastics on the Environment

What Are Microplastics?

Microplastics are an increasingly concerning form of pollution that endangers the health of our environment. They are extremely small particles, often measuring less than 5 mm in length, and come from a variety of sources, including plastic bags, bottles, textiles, synthetic rubber, and even cosmetics.

Not only do these small pieces of plastic persist in our environment for years or decades without breaking down; they also attract toxic chemicals used as additives which further contaminate the environment.

Primary Microplastics

Primary microplastics are a major source of pollution and have quickly become a global concern. These tiny plastic particles are found in many everyday items, from cosmetics to textiles and more. In particular, polyethylene, nylon, and polypropylene are the materials most commonly used for primary microplastic production.

Primary microplastics can also be found in packaging materials such as plastic bags and bottles as well as synthetic fibers that make up our clothing materials. The detrimental effects of primary microplastics have become increasingly apparent over time. Not only do these particles contaminate the environment once they enter aquatic ecosystems, but they also pose a threat to human health when ingested or inhaled.

Primary Microplastics

Secondary Microplastics

Secondary plastics are a major environmental concern, as they are the result of larger plastic materials breaking down into tiny particles no larger than 5mm. These particles are too small to be filtered out by conventional water treatment processes and can find their way into the ocean, eventually making their way into our food chain.

Secondary plastics have been found in fish, birds, and other marine wildlife. Even very small concentrations of these particles can be dangerous for animals due to the toxins that may be present. Additionally, secondary plastics are also an aesthetic issue; on beaches around the world, these tiny pieces of plastic accumulate and create large patches of garbage that are difficult to remove from the environment.

Nano Plastics

Nanoplastics are a unique type of microplastics that measure less than 1 nanometer, making them incredibly small and difficult to detect. These tiny particles are produced from the degradation and manufacturing of plastic products, packaging, and other consumer goods.

In addition, they can also accumulate toxins while traveling through aquatic environments such as oceans and rivers. Therefore, it is essential that steps be taken to reduce the production of nano plastics in order to ensure the safety of our planet's ecosystems.

Sources of Microplastics

There is increasing evidence that these microplastics pollute our environment and pose a risk to marine life. There are up to 7 primary sources of microplastics, which will explain more in detail below:


  • Synthetic Textiles: The washing process of synthetic materials results in breaking down their fibers and creating microplastics. Many fabrics are made with polymers such as nylon, acrylic, and polyolefin, which become separated into tiny particles known as primary microplastics when they disintegrate. Unfortunately, these fragments can easily travel through our sewage systems and end up in our oceans. This is especially concerning since more than 60% of all fabric used for clothing is made from synthetic materials.

Sources of Microplastics


  • Road Markings: Road markings are an important safety feature of roads, helping to guide drivers and pedestrians alike. Paint is the most common type of road marking material and is typically used for simple lane demarcations, crosswalks, arrows, stop lines and other pedestrian-related signs.
  • Personal Care Products: Plastic microbeads, found in abundance in exfoliating and cleansing products like body washes, toothpaste and facial scrubs, are a serious environmental issue. These tiny plastic beads often do not biodegrade and can easily enter the water system, where they are consumed by marine life or contaminate our drinking water.
  • Plastic Pellets: Plastic pellets pose a major threat to the environment, as they are too small to be filtered out by wastewater treatment plants, and can end up in our oceans. As pellets are made from non-biodegradable plastic resin mixtures, these pollutants can persist for centuries in the marine environment, further contaminating aquatic habitats. Once there, they can be ingested by marine wildlife or enter the food chain through fish consumption.
  • City Dust: City dust is a byproduct of our urban spaces' everyday wear and tear. It is created from the erosion of objects like synthetic soles, cooking utensils, and building coatings, as well as from the decomposition of basic infrastructures such as artificial turfs and household items. When these things break down, they leave behind tiny fragments that form what we know as city dust.

Where Are Microplastics Found?

Microplastics are incredibly pervasive in the marine environment, with concentrations reaching levels concerning environmental and human health. These small pieces of plastic absorb pollutants from the surrounding water and can be mistaken as food by fish and other aquatic species.

Microplastics Found

In addition to causing physical obstruction in their digestive tracts, these microplastics have been implicated in the bioaccumulation of contaminants into the animals’ tissues, leading to an increased health risk for those creatures.

The potential consequences for humans also cannot be overlooked; when we consume seafood contaminated with microplastics, we too may be exposed to the accumulated toxins. Therefore, we must take steps to reduce our production of microplastics and work towards an efficient method of removing them from our oceans before it’s too late.

How Can You Reduce Microplastics in the Environment?

One of the most effective ways to reduce microplastics in the environment is to limit plastic production. We can do this by encouraging consumers to choose alternative, renewable, and sustainable products such as glass, stainless steel, and bamboo.

Additionally, businesses should also strive to use fewer single-use plastics and switch to more environmentally friendly and reusable packaging options. To further reduce the amount of plastic waste ending up in landfills and polluting our oceans and waterways, communities should develop better infrastructure for recycling.

This may include introducing curbside pickup or drop-off programs that allow citizens to recycle their plastics easily. Investing in compostable materials can also help keep plastics out of our ecosystems while providing an ecologically responsible way of disposing of non-recyclable items like food scraps and biodegradable products.

Finally, reducing consumption is a beneficial way to cut down on plastic pollution as it eliminates waste at its source.

Say Goodbye to Microplastics and Join the Tru Earth Movement Today!

The Tru Earth Movement is on a mission to help the environment, and our community has taken the lead by showing us that it doesn't take much to make a big difference. Together, we have eliminated over 8 million laundry jugs from landfills.

Tru Earth Movement

This single effort, made up of thousands of individuals, has had an incredibly positive impact on the planet. We can only imagine how much more damage can be prevented if we all continue to do our part. With everyone’s help and dedication this year, TruEarth expects to eliminate even more plastic jugs from landfills and reduce our collective environmental footprint.

With such amazing progress already being made, there's no doubt that this movement will continue growing in size and impact! So, why not join us?

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