A message from Mary Ross, Earth Ministry Team member

You may have heard stories about microplastics. This is an environmental challenge that’s just beginning to be appreciated. All that plastic we use that ends up in the environment doesn’t biodegrade. Instead, it breaks down into ever-smaller pieces that become part of the ecosystem—available for animals to eat. This is different from the stories of whales or birds dying after swallowing plastic caps or bags. Rather, these microscopic pieces (smaller than 5mm in diameter) are absorbed into the animal’s tissue and then become part of the food web. And yes, we end up eating this plastic, too. You almost certainly have microplastics in your body. The effects of this are not understood. As reported in 2019, researchers at the University of Newcastle, Australia state that people may be unknowingly ingesting microplastics amounting to one-half pound yearly or about 5 grams weekly (the size of a credit card).

We can reduce exposure to microplastics by filtering tap water and purchasing bottled water and beverages in glass rather than plastic. Plastic wrap used to cover food should be replaced by storing food items in glass or metal containers or using natural wraps such as reusable beeswax coated cloth. Being mindful that “whatever happens to water happens to people” will guide us in protecting our irreplaceable water resources.

For more information about UUCW’s Earth Ministry Team, contact Chair Rob Zimmerman.