35+ Everyday Items that have Plastic
Updated: Jun 12
Plastic has been an incredible and awful invention all at once. Manufacturers and consumers appreciated the amazing benefits of the lightweight, durable, and water-resistant material. However, the disadvantages of plastic have become more and more clear. Nowadays it can be found everywhere in all sorts of items and this is not necessarily a good thing as it turns up in the most unexpected places. To give you a little more clarity on where plastic can be found I have made a list of over 35 items that have plastic.
This one may sound surprising at first but if you give it a little more thought it is not surprising. It is estimated that 80% of water is contaminated with microplastics. That makes the chances of you drinking plastic rather high because all the plastic we use doesn’t biodegrade. Instead, it slowly falls apart into microplastics that are so tiny they will pass through our water filtration systems.
As a large part of our oceans are polluted with plastic it is not surprising that salt extracted from salt water contains plastic. Particles of plastic that have ended up in the sea as waste, have now returned as salt we sprinkle on our food.
Most sponges we can buy in supermarkets are synthetic sponges. Synthetic sponges can be made of different types of plastic like polyurethane or polyester. Polyurethane is used in plastic sponges for its abrasive side to clean stubborn dirt. Polyester sponges are common for dishwashing and are usually soft and bright in color. The big downside of these sponges is that they will release microplastics into your dishwater when you use them.
Iron or aluminum can not react well with the liquid inside as cola has a pH of 2.7 which will break down these metals. They, however, will not rust due to the plastic insulating layer within the can.
Most of us need our daily coffee to get us started in the morning and we make our coffee with a drip machine using paper coffee filters. This type of paper has a small amount of plastic in them to make sure that they don’t tear which results in a coffee filter that is not compostable.
Lots of products that have the name paper aren’t completely paper like baking paper as plastic is often added to make it stronger and non-stick.
Disposable paper coffee cups
The same goes for disposable coffee cups made with paper. These are lined with plastic. To make them stronger and water resistant. It also makes them more difficult to recycle.
This is another one as paper plates often have a coating to prevent water or oil from leaking through the plates.
Glass jar lids
Glass jars are amazing to store food but the lid often contains plastic. Some already have a plastic lid so it is clear what you have but even the metal ones contain a layer of plastic. The purpose of this plastic is to produce a vacuum seal and it also helps the lid resist corrosion from acidic ingredients.
Potato Chips bags
Chips bags often look like paper or aluminum foil however, most of them are coated with a thin layer of plastic to protect your snacks from moisture.
Tetra Paks are the cartons that you commonly buy (plant-based) milk or juice but tomato sauce also comes in these packs.
People often think Tetra Paks are made from waxed cardboard. However, looking at their website you can read that these packages are made from wood in the form of paperboard, as well as thin layers of aluminum and polyethylene plastic. Most Tetra Pak cartons are 75% paper, 20% polyethylene, and 5% aluminum.
While Tetra Pak cartons state that they are recyclable, this is hard to do. The thin layers of aluminum and plastic make it difficult to separate these mixed materials. This means they are not easily recyclable and only specialized facilities can do this.
Research had found that a single cup of tea using a teabag can release more than 11 billion microplastic and 3 billion nano plastic particles. Even teabags made out of paper contain a small amount of plastic as it is used to seal the bag. So, go for plastic-free tea bags or try drinking loose-leaf tea.
Did you know that chewing gum often contains polyethylene and polyvinyl acetate? This is what gives chewing gum its ‘chewiness’ There are plenty of plant-based gums available nowadays.
Did you know that the stickers you can often find on your produce are often made out of plastic? Luckily producers opt to go for a more sustainable option nowadays like a plant-based sticker or not using a sticker at all but branding the logo on the produce.
Sheet masks on their own are already very wasteful since they are individually in plastic sometimes even mixed with aluminum to make recycling nearly impossible. The mask itself is often also made from nylon or polyester to prevent them from tearing when you use them. A greener option would be to use a facemask from a glass jar to save you from lots of waste and plastic.
Wet toilet paper, baby wipes, and makeup wipes all are made from polyester. They are a huge problem for both our sewer system as well as the environment because they often end up on beaches and in oceans. When these wipes disintegrate they release microplastics into our environment. When you need a wet wipe, go for either a biodegradable one or choose a reusable wipe.
Regular menstrual pads are made from up to 90% plastic. Even tampons, while mostly made out of cotton, also contain plastic in the applicator and the string. Luckily, there are now lots of eco-friendly alternatives available like organic pads and tampons but also reusable pads and the menstrual cup.
Most of us don’t realize that bandaids contain plastic. The soft, fabric-like band-aids are made with plastic materials like PVC. This is to make them stronger and last longer. When you need new bandaids go for a more sustainable option.
Glitter looks great but unfortunately, all these sparkly particles are microplastic.
As glitter is microplastic it shouldn’t be a surprise that makeup is one of the products that contain lots of microplastics. Nail polish, mascara, eyeshadow, face powder, and lipstick all have microplastics. As our skin is very absorbent, it could absorb these plastics but also the chemicals into our bodies.
Luckily, there are more and more companies out there who choose to create plastic-free makeup that doesn’t contain microplastic or harmful ingredients.
72% of Sun Care products contain microplastics. Unfortunately, these include sunscreens for kids. Most sunscreens use a combination of microplastics to form a UV barrier against sun damage. When selecting a new sunscreen, choose a plastic-free brand to avoid the use of plastic on your skin.
Even though there are restrictions against the use of microplastics, some manufacturers still use them in their products as a supplement to mechanically cleanse our skin.
Contact lenses are very common but most are disposable and made of non-biodegradable material. Only very few facilities can recycle contact lenses so whenever possible choose contacts that last longer than a day.
Microplastics are present in conventional toothpaste to scrub our teeth clean. Choose a toothpaste without plastic or even tooth tablets to avoid the use of a tube as well.
Laundry detergent pods
Laundry detergent pods are very convenient, but unfortunately, they’re wrapped in a layer of biodegradable plastic. This plastic disintegrates into microplastic when it comes into contact with water where it releases its detergent content. Unfortunately they often also come in a big plastic container.
Wrapping paper often has metallic prints, glitter, and colorful dyes and some are even laminated. All these fancy additions make wrapping paper non-recyclable as it contains multiple materials.
Receipts feel like paper but it is a special type of paper that is lined with plastic.
This makes receipts unrecyclable.
Not only is smoking bad for your health and our planet, also the waste after your smoke is very polluting. According to Earthday.org, cigarette buds are the commonly polluted plastic.
As of 2019, about 4.5 trillion individual butts are polluting our global environment.
Wood is a too precious resource to use for all pencils. This is why most office supplies use wood-like plastic. So, be careful the next time you put a pencil in your mouth.
Not only the packaging is often plastic also abrasive cleaning supplies are often microplastics.
All clothing made from synthetic materials like microfibre fleece, polyester, acrylic, and nylon is made from crude oil. And each time you wash these clothes, microplastics are released into our waters.
Most yarn used for sewing is polyester which can release microplastic when clothes with polyester yarn are washed.
You wouldn’t want your letter and fall apart so envelopes are in a layer of plastic to protect your mail.
This differs per currency but most contain some type of plastic to ensure their lifespan. We have left money in our pockets once or twice when we put our clothes in the washing machine. To keep your money from being wasted this way, plastic is added to this paper to make it more resistant.
Next to rubber, tires also contain plastic. The more you drive, the more microplastics are released into our atmosphere.
Every year on new years eve, the Netherlands fires lots of fireworks into the air. This not only pollutes our air with lots of chemicals but also with lots of microplastics. On new years morning, our yards are covered in small plastic particles that contained the fireworks. Most of these are not removed but remain on in our soils where they slowly release microplastic. What is even worse is that these plastic leftovers also end up on farmlands and forests where animals eat these plastics.
Paint often contains plastic like polyvinyls, polyurethanes, polyesters, and acrylics to make them last and protect the wood.
Acrylic and polycarbonate are the types of plastic most often used in light bulbs. Even LED lights are plastics although much durable. Light bulbs often can’t go into regular recycling due to the different components they are made of. One of these materials is plastic.
Yes, microplastic is even in our air. This comes from for example the tires when our car drives and when we rub polyester clothing and through wind, this is spread around everywhere.
When we breath in these particles it can impact our health by
For now, we know that the inhalation of particles can be irritating to lung tissue.
So, lots of plastic can be found on lots of places so pay attention with every item you use so you can avoid the release of microplastics as much as possible.