Plastic Pollution: Good and Bad News

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 03/27/2024

Plastic pollution is becoming a bigger concern every year, as more and more plastic is being created. Increasing amounts of plastic in the world's food supply is a growing health concern, as people ingest increasingly more plastic on a regular basis.

Learn about the extent of plastic pollution today, what is being done to curtail it, and how you can better protect your health from the threat plastic poses.

The Unsettling Reality of Plastic Pollution

Plastic pollution is a severe problem that has been escalating over the years. The numbers are staggering, with an estimated 100 million metric tons present in our environment as of 2016 - and it has only increased since then.

Global Statistics on Plastic Pollution

Comprehending the sheer volume of plastic waste polluting our environment is challenging. Each year, eight million tons get dumped into oceans, primarily through rivers alone.

This contributes significantly to phenomena like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a floating mass of discarded plastics twice the size of Texas.

If this trend continues unchecked, unrecyclable plastics will continue piling up for centuries due to their resistance to natural degradation processes. In fact, by 2050, there could be more plastic than fish (by weight) in our seas.

Common Sources Contributing To Personal Ingestion

Beyond harming marine life and increasing carbon footprints smaller creatures can handle, these single-use plastics pose direct health risks when they break down into microplastics under exposure to hot water or sunlight.

We ingest around two thousand tiny pieces or five grams (equivalent to a credit card) of these particles weekly from bottled water, shellfish, salt, and beer.

It's time we note where exactly all this comes from so you can make informed decisions towards reducing your ingestion.

Gut microbiome illustration

A Ray Of Hope - Bacteria That Break Down Plastic

The plastic pollution problem might seem impossible, but a surprising solution emerged in 2016. Scientists discovered bacteria that could degrade plastics using an enzyme called petase as their primary energy source for carbon intake.

Let's delve into how these microscopic warriors function and the potential implications of this discovery on large-scale clean-up efforts.

The role played by petase enzymes in breaking down plastics

To comprehend how we can exploit these bacteria to tackle our global plastic contamination issue, let's first examine what makes them so extraordinary.

These organisms secrete an enzyme called PETase, which can break down polyethylene terephthalate (PET), one of the most common types of unrecyclable plastics worldwide.

This process starts when Ideonella sakaiensis, the bacterium responsible, attaches itself to PET-coated surfaces before secreting PETase enzymes that work diligently to dismantle this resilient material into smaller molecules ready for absorption and metabolism within its system.

But what does all this mean? How is it relevant beyond scientific curiosity?

Potential implications for large-scale clean-up efforts

This groundbreaking research offers hope against further environmental degradation from discarded plastic items like single-use water bottles or shopping bags, especially those made from hard-to-recycle materials such as PETs.

Scientists are already taking steps towards leveraging these natural mechanisms through techniques including directed evolution, a method where enzymes get artificially evolved, outperforming their original counterparts.

Studies have shown that genetically modified versions can decompose up to 90% percent within ten hours.

However, it's crucial to remember that while promising that employing bacterial solutions won't solve every aspect overnight, they should form part of broader multi-faceted strategies involving reduced consumption and improved recycling rates, among others.

Furthermore, challenges remain related to scaling lab findings in the real world.

Emerging Technologies for Ocean Cleanup

The plastic pollution problem is a pressing issue that needs immediate attention. Innovative technologies are now emerging to address this challenge, mainly focusing on ocean cleanup.

These groundbreaking solutions aim to isolate and concentrate marine litter for efficient extraction, thereby reducing plastic waste in our oceans.

The Process Involved in Identifying and Extracting Marine Litter

The Ocean Cleanup Project's passive system is one such technology making waves (pun intended) in tackling the global crisis of discarded plastics.

This unique approach uses natural forces like currents, winds, and waves to capture floating debris without needing additional energy resources - an eco-friendly solution.

This project also employs sophisticated computer modeling software that predicts where these unwelcome guests will accumulate based on current patterns.

The data collected helps strategically place their systems for optimal efficiency, making every effort count towards preventing further damage to marine life from single-use plastics.

Innovative Solutions Beyond Physical Extraction

Beyond physical collection methods lie bio-remediation techniques using bacteria or fungi capable of breaking unrecyclable plastics into harmless organic matter.

Mushrooms have been found capable of degrading polyurethane within weeks - quite significant given its resistance against most forms of microbial attack.

Also promising are studies exploring pyrolysis to convert back plastic waste into usable oil or gas, thus offering dual benefits: cleaner seas & reduced reliance on fossil fuels.

Promoting Circular Economy Through the Plastic Bank Initiative

Apart from scientific breakthroughs, Plastic Bank, a social enterprise operating across several countries, including Indonesia and Haiti, offers another out-of-the-box solution: turning collected waste into currency.

Local communities are encouraged to collect discarded single-use items before they reach the water.

Detoxifying Your Body From Plastics

Ingesting microplastic particles is an unfortunate reality in our plastic-polluted world. Still, you can take measures to help your body detoxify and lessen the harm these pollutants may cause.

Benefits derived from Calcium D-Glucarate Supplementation

Calcium-D-glucarate, a naturally occurring substance found in vegetables like broccoli, has shown promise to aid the body's natural detoxification processes. It works by inhibiting beta-glucuronidase enzyme production, which assists with toxin elimination from the body.

This supplement also plays a role in maintaining hormonal balance; it reduces excess estrogen levels, which can be disrupted due to exposure to plastics.

Incorporating calcium-D-glucarate into your daily routine could mitigate the harmful effects of ingesting plastic residues.

Increasing Cruciferous Vegetable Intake

Besides supplements such as calcium-D-glucarate, increasing the consumption of cruciferous vegetables, including kale, Brussels sprouts, or cauliflower, provides another method for supporting system detoxification efforts.

These nutrient-dense veggies contain glucosinolate compounds that stimulate liver enzymes responsible for flushing out toxins.

A study published in The Journal Of Nutrition demonstrated how beneficial these compounds are not only at eliminating toxins but also in enhancing antioxidant activity within cells, providing additional protection against potential damage induced by plastics or other pollutants.

Maintaining Regular Exercise Routines That Induce Sweating

Sweat is one way our bodies naturally expel unwanted substances, including specific plastic residues we may have unknowingly consumed through contaminated food or water sources.

Engaging regularly in activities promoting sweating, like sauna visits, significantly assists this cleansing process. Prioritizing regular physical exercise will boost overall health and contribute positively towards reducing personal carbon footprint.

Can Sea Salt Increase Your Immune System Against Plastic Pollution?

No evidence suggests that sea salt can directly increase the immune system against plastic pollution. While both Himalayan pink salt and sea salt are natural sources of essential minerals that support overall health, they cannot provide immunity against plastic pollution.

Plastic pollution is a complex environmental issue caused by the accumulation of plastic waste in our oceans and environment.

To address plastic pollution and its impact on the immune system, it is crucial to focus on reducing plastic use, promoting recycling, and supporting policies that protect the environment.

A healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet with natural salts like Himalayan pink salt or sea salt, can contribute to overall well-being. Still, it cannot directly combat the harmful effects of plastic pollution on the immune system.


Plastic pollution presents a growing threat to both the environment and human health, as more plastic enters our food supply. There are promising initiatives and solutions emerging, such as bacteria that degrade plastic and innovative ocean cleanup technologies.

Individuals can also take steps to support their health against plastic ingestion by promoting detoxification processes through supplements, increasing the intake of cruciferous vegetables, and maintaining regular exercise routines.

While sea salt contributes to overall health, it does not directly boost immunity against plastic pollution.

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