29 Sept 2022

6 items we bet you didn't know contained plastic

Kilkenny and Carlow smokers cost taxpayer more than €1.2 million

Cigarette butts contain plastic

There is no doubt that plastic pollution is causing serious damage to our environment, especially our oceans and the plant and aquatic life within it. The sad fact is this pollution is down to only one species - humans! We all need to take responsibility for our choices and to also accept that the choices we make are causing serious issues to those who have no voice - our beautiful plants and animals. 

Plastic is a material that seems to be everywhere but did you know that plastic is also in these six common items?


 Image: Pixabay

This is particularly true of so called 'whitening' toothpastes. These contain microplastics which scrub staining off your teeth, but they all flush down the sink and into our waterways. And, if that's not enough to put you off, think about the plastic tube that most toothpaste comes in - that won't be breaking down any time soon! 

Eco-friendly alternatives: There are plenty of alternatives to choose from, with tooth powders and tablets. Best of all they taste nice and do the job just as well as the plastic filled alternatives and don't come in plastic tubes. Try or

Till receipts

 Image: Pixabay

Surprisingly enough till receipts aren't just made of paper, they are coated in plastic and as a result, cannot be recycled. While you sometimes can't avoid a receipt, especially if you need to return a faulty item at a later date, why not say no to a receipt for things like takeaways, fuel and the weekly shop.

Eco friendly alternative: Don't ask for a receipt or, if the option is there, opt to have the receipt sent to you via your email - especially if you need a receipt for warranty purposes. Many outlets offer this kind of service and let's face it, how often do we just throw out single grocery or petrol receipt clogging our wallets and purses!


 Image: Pixabay

You probably already are aware of the synthetic fibres your clothes may be made of but do you understand just what problems arise when you wash them? Clothes with labels saying they contain polyester, nylon and acrylic may seem like a durable, lightweight and practical choice for clothing in our busy lives but they also come come with a serious problem - tiny plastic fibres. Every time these synthetic clothes are put into the washing machine, they shed tiny plastic fibres, which pass through wastewater treatment and into rivers and estuaries, and will often end up in the ocean. The microplastics transfer to fish and then into other animals when they are eaten, passing up the food chain, and can eventually wind up being eaten by humans. We could literally be eating the clothes we wear.

Eco friendly alternative: Look for clothes made from natural fibres such as cotton, silk, jute, flax, wool or hemp. Some high street shops are even getting on board with eco-friendly, sustainable clothing so don't think that you won't still be on trend if you choose alternatives to synthetics.

Chewing gum

 Image: Pixabay

The name is a bit misleading as there is a plant product called natural gum. But the majority of chewing gum brands we see on shop shelves are far from natural. Most of the chewing gum made today is made using gum base, which includes a mixture of polymers, plasticisers and resins, and mixed together with food-grade softeners, preservatives, sweeteners, colours and flavourings. You are basically chewing plastic.

Environmental friendly alternative: The good news is there are plastic free alternatives to traditional chewing gum. Try, or for plastic free gum.


 Image: Pixabay

Ah yes, the go to art material for everyone under the age of 10 but did you know that glitter is made up of microplastics? Most glitter is made from etched aluminium bonded to polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and because it is so small (and gets everywhere!) it is easily washed down our sinks and into our water systems before making its way to the ocean. According to "microplastics, such as glitter, have been observed being ingested by a wide range of marine life, including plankton, fish, shellfish and seabirds. The microplastics can fill an animals stomach, giving it the mistaken feeling that it is full. But it is full up on plastic, and not receiving the nutrients it requires. This can often lead to an early death."

Eco-friendly alternative: produce gorgeous eco-friendly biodegradable glitter comes in over 50 colours and sizes. Best of all they ship world-wide.

Cigarette butts

 Image: Pixabay

Yes, everyone knows that smoking isn't good for your health, but did you know that the filters at the end of cigarettes are actually predominantly made of plastic? This means when you toss a cigarette butt on the ground, throw it out the car window or drop it into a street drain it flushes into our waterways and from there into the ocean. Filters are made of made of cellulose acetate, a man-made plastic material and it takes more than 10 years for each filter to break down. When you average out the number of cigarettes smoked each day by smokers here in Ireland, (that's an estimated 8,000 a year for 714,000 smokers according to the HSE) that works out over 5.7 billion cigarette butts added to plastic pollution each year.

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