Plastics in Our Food (and Beer) Chain

Oh, how we wish we didn’t have to write these posts but we feel it’s necessary to do our part in creating awareness about humanity’s use of plastics and its devastating effect on our planet.

We keep abreast of the news and the latest grabbed our attention because who doesn’t love a cold brew now and then? So, what does beer and plastic have to do with one another? Well some beers contain microplastics! A study of 24 German beers resulted in astonishing results. All were analyzed for microplastic fibres, fragments, and granular material and in ALL cases, contamination was found.

The world’s oceans are choking on plastic waste. Plastic waste researcher Marcus Eriksen said that microplastic is so pervasive in the oceans that people should think of it as “plastic smog.” He told Duetsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcaster (DW), that his main concern is that “microplastics could release toxins, ranging from pesticides to oil drops from cars, inside organisms that are filtering or selecting particles in the oceans.”

Look no further than blue mussels, he said, which were found to have microplastics in their digestive systems.

“You can say that we’re literally eating our own trash,” he told DW.

Plastic does not biodegrade and bits of plastic attract cancer, hormone-disrupting and diabetes-causing chemicals the longer they stay in the sea. The plastic gets into our food chain (yes, even if you’re vegan) by way of fish, the water we drink (that’s where it’s entering the beer-brewing process) and the salt we use in our food.

Eriksen went on to say that while waste management is part of the issue. It is also the design of products such as plastic packets that hold enough shampoo for one use or ketchup for one side of fries. Better design and better waste management is key, he added, along with better recycling policies.

His advice to all of us, as told to DW: “Reduce litter.”

We all know about plastic evils such as bags, straws, and microbeads but the latest baddie is polyethylene. This plastic is found in those white, foam cups used at kids’ picnic parties as well as those red plastic cups at adult parties. It’s also found in coffee cup lids and plastic cutlery.

How to tell if something is made from polyethylene? It’ll have a triangular arrow sign with the number six in the middle. 5 Gyres Institute, a non-profit organization that focuses on reducing plastics pollution by implementing research, has started a campaign called “Nix the Six” that aims to get people to give up using these horrible items.

These warnings are not overreactions. They affect everybody and everything. Yet, still, by 2050 it’s estimated there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish. Research says that we were consuming about five million tonnes of plastic in 1950. In 2014, we were consuming 311 million tonnes of plastic. This horrible trend needed to end a long time ago.

It’s time to really rethink our disposable lifestyles. Check out 5 Gyres plastic-free shopping guide as a starting point to think about reusable cups, straws, and other miscellaneous.