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Hidden Plastics: 10 Things You Didn’t Realise Are Bad For The Environment

If you’ve managed to phase out plastic bags, straws and water bottles then congrats – you’re doing better than most in the fight against plastic pollution. But it doesn’t end there. Hidden plastics are everywhere and many of them are lurking where you least expect.

Below I shed light on these hidden plastics with alternative products and solutions to help you go truly plastic free!

1. Chewing Gum

I bet you didn’t know that you’ve been chewing on plastic all this time?! Gum is usually made from synthetic polymers meaning it doesn’t biodegrade. For sustainable alternatives opt for Simply Gum or Chicza.

2. Crisp Packets

On first glance you’d think that crisp packets are made from foil but this material is actually a metallised plastic film which isn’t easily recycled. To dispose of your crisp packets responsibly you’ll have to take them to designated drop off points under Walkers’ new recycling scheme. Details here.

3. Tea Bags

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but chances are your cuppa isn’t plastic free either! Most brands use a plastic called polypropylene to seal their tea bags meaning that they don’t fully biodegrade. For a complete range of plastic free tea bags check out Pukka.

4. Cigarettes

Did you know that cigarettes are the number one most collected item on beach cleans?! And most of these cigarettes take as long as 10 years to biodegrade because they contain a plastic filter.

5. Wet Wipes

Lots of people don’t realise that wet wipes are made from polyester fibres that don’t break down. Because of this they flush them down the toilet, polluting our waterways with plastic. Wet wipes actually contribute to 93% of blockages in sewers!

6. Glitter

Glitter is predominantly made from plastic and because of its tiny size often ends up in the ocean as microplastics. Watch out for glitter on greetings cards and wrapping paper as this can’t be recycled. You can buy plastic free glitter from Eco Glitter Fun.

7. Paper Cups

A misleading culprit – not only are paper cups made from paper but many of them also contain a thin plastic lining which recycling plants can’t remove. So, contrary to popular belief, most paper cups end up in landfill.

8. Cotton Buds

Cotton bud stems are made from plastic which, because of their size and structure, easily pass through sewage systems. They often end up in the ocean where they eventually break down and indefinitely exist as microplastics.

9. Tampons

Did you know that 9 plastic applicators are found for every 1km of beach in the UK? Shocking I know but plastic is also found in the tampon itself meaning that they don’t biodegrade. Same for pads. For plastic free alternatives look at Natracare or try Moon Cup.

10. Clothing

More than likely the clothes you wear aren’t plastic free either … in fact polyester, nylon and acrylic are all plastics which shed millions of plastic microfibres every time you wash them. Use a Guppy Bag or Cora Ball to catch these tiny fibres next time you do your washing!

Do you know of anymore hidden plastics?

Let me know in the comments below!


  1. amandaxstrange says

    I was so mad when I heard that there was plastic in tea bags. That’s just ridiculous to me. I have a ton of tea bags I’m working through but after that I’m switching to loose leaf only.

    Liked by 1 person

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