Plastics on the Menu

Miniscule pieces of plastic are getting into our environment, either through wear and tear of the things we use, or through weathering and fragmentation of discarded objects. The microplastics are often washed into water systems, permeate into soils and can end up in the food chain. As a result, it has been estimated that we each consume about 5 grams of plastic every week. The infographic illustrates that this is equivalent to eating a credit card every week, which would add up to one person consuming enough plastic every year to make two vinyl LPs!

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plastics on the menu infographic

Microplastics in our environment

Tiny pieces of plastic that are less than five millimetres in size are generally termed as microplastics. These small pieces of plastic can end up in our environment as pollutants – either through wear and tear through use, as is the case with tyre abrasion, or through weathering and fragmentation, as is the case when larger plastics are discarded and break down. Some microplastics are also present as additives in products, such as in some cosmetics or pesticides, and can find their way into our environment as well.

Much of the microplastic pollution finds its way into water systems, often being washed into rivers and then into coastal areas and the open sea. These small plastics can also permeate into soils and end up in the food chain as they are ingested in the marine and land environments.

Plastics in our diet

Most of the tiny particles that we consume are in the water that we drink. But microplastics have also been found in beer, fish and salt. It is estimated that we each eat around 5 grams of these microplastics every week, the equivalent weight of a credit card, a Lego brick, or five ballpoint pen caps. Added up over a year, this would mean we each eat around 260 grams of plastic a year, enough to make two vinyl LP records!

While the implications for human health of ingesting microplastics are not yet widely understood, they can contain chemicals and additives that could potentially cause harmful effects.


WWF – World Wide Fund for Nature (2019). No Plastic in Nature: Assessing Plastic Ingestion from Nature to People.

This infographic appeared in JONO Design e-news. The e-news is published once every couple of months and each issue contains a specially designed infographic.

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