#1Thing: 8 Surprising Items That Contain Plastic

March 10, 2020
Did you know that bubble gum contains plastic?

(Photo: Sergii Gnatiuk/Getty Images0

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Plastic pollution is one of the biggest environmental issues threatening our planet.

According to National Geographic, about 448 million tons of plastic were produced in 2015 and each year, about 8 million tons of plastic waste drifts into the oceans. From single-use water bottles and disposable straws to a bottomless pit of grocery bags, plastic is everywhere.

Unfortunately, plastic doesn’t break down, it emits dangerous toxins, and hundreds of sea creatures are dying from ingesting it in tiny microparticles.

Finding ways to reduce plastic use and waste could help solve the problem. Drinking water from reusable tumblers and switching to stainless steel straws are two easy eco-friendly actions we can take.

However, lots of items contain undetectable plastic. Here are eight surprising, commonly used examples.

Satin Ribbons and Bows

Satin ribbons and bows can make packages pretty or add a pop of color to the top of a ponytail. Unfortunately, many satin ribbons are made from polyester which is a type of plastic. Biodegradable cotton ribbon makes a better eco-friendly option.

Glass Jar Lids

Glass jars offer great eco-friendly storage alternatives to using disposable plastic baggies or containers. However, you may not know that many glass jar lids contain a thin layer of plastisol (which is a form of plastic) as a sealing agent. Using stainless steel or bamboo lids is an easy and eco-conscious swap.  

Aluminum Beverage and Food Cans

This one might come as a big surprise: aluminum cans and food containers can contain BPA.

This common industrial chemical is used to make resins and plastics that line cans to keep them from rusting. The problem is this potentially harmful chemical might seep into the food and drinks we consume from the cans.

The Mayo Clinic reports that BPA exposure has been linked to children’s behavioral issues, high blood pressure, and other physical effects. Overall, cutting back on using tin and aluminum food and drink cans and using BPA-free products is better for the environment and your health.

Bubble Gum  

Bubble gum and other forms of chewing gum contain polyethylene in the gum base, which is the same plastic material found in plastic soda and water bottles. If you’re trying to reduce plastic consumption, think twice before shoving a stick of gum in your mouth.

Polyester Clothes

Polyester clothes may not be your fabric of choice. However, you may not realize your favorite hoodie or blouse is a 50/50 cotton/polyester blend. Any item of clothing that is even partially made from polyester, contains polyethylene terephthalate (PET) – which is plastic.

Therefore, wearing sustainable fabrics like organic cotton is an easy, eco-conscious wardrobe option.

McDonald’s Cups

Many bargain-hunting beverage drinkers say they prefer the taste – and the cost (at just $1 for any size) of McDonald’s fountain drinks.

In fact, there’s a Reader’s Digest article about how (and why) McDonald’s Coke actually does taste better than competitors’ soft drinks …

Unfortunately, if you’re looking to cut plastic usage, McDonald’s soft drink cups are coated with plastic lining that’s nearly impossible to recycle. In searching for an eco-friendly solution, McDonald’s and Starbucks are launching pilot programs to serve their drinks in reusable cups.

Crafting Glitter

Sprinkling drawings, pinecones, or fabric with shimmering glitter is a beloved crafting pastime for kids of all ages. However, this shiny holiday wonder is made of plastic. Thankfully, multiple glitter manufacturers now use eco-friendly, biodegradable versions. So, for your next sparkly project, be sure to use one of those.

Metallic Wrapping Paper

Wrapping presents in holiday paper promotes tree loss, increases landfill waste, and the shiny/metallic variety contains plastic. Some fun, eco-friendly alternatives include giving gifts in reusable tote bags, wrapping items in fabric, or hiding unwrapped gifts and leaving a series of clues to find them.