What are Microplastics?

A Toraphene Guide


Microplastics are plastic particles less than 5mm in size that result from the breakdown of consumer plastics in nature.


They never fully go away and often end up in oceans, polluting our ecosystem water supply and food chain.


You can reduce your contribution to microplastics by choosing compostable or reusable alternatives to plastics.

What are Microplastics?

Microplastics are tiny almost invisible particles of plastic less than 5mm in size. They may be tiny, but they have an extraordinary impact on the environment and on us.


When plastics end up in nature, they slowly breaks down into smaller and smaller particles. Although nature can't digest plastic, it can wear and tear it via sunlight and abrasion, eventually yielding microplastics and even nanoplastics (less than 100nanometers = 0.0001mm).

Two Types: Primary & Secondary

Primary Microplastics are intentionally produced tiny pieces of plastic to serve a specific purpose. For instance, the exfoliating beads found in cosmetic body scrubs, face washes, etc.


Secondary Microplastics, are instead a product of larger plastic products such as water bottles, or even cigarette filters breaking down into smaller and smaller fragments. An estimated 81% of ocean microplastics are secondary ones.

Although tiny, microplastics have a very serious impact on the planet and your health.

Microplastics and the Planet

Microplastic pollution is most common in marine environments thanks to the water erosion and unobstructed UV rays from sunlight breaking down larger plastics into these tiny pieces.


Microplastics accumulate in the ocean and many of the small organisms there mistake them for food and so consume them. As these organisms are eaten by larger ones, the microplastics accumulate in their digestive systems... eventually moving all the way up to the fish that we humans eat.


Studies have found that 99% of fish have at least some microplastics inside them, whether in their stomachs, guts, or even livers. Even birds of prey have been found to have microplastics in them.


These microplastics can be harmful to marine life and therefore are contributing to the biodiversity collapse.

Microplastics and Your Health

A continually growing body of research into microplastics in animals and humans has made some startling findings. Recent studies have concluded that most people are consuming a whole credit card's worth of plastic every week! This is thanks to our food sources like fish and other animals being themselves polluted with plastic. Another source of microplastic consumption is bottled water, of which a shocking 93% was found to be contaminated with microplastics. On top of this, tap water, too, has been found to have microplastic particles.


Another startling finding has been plastic particles in human lungs. Tiny plastic particles are floating in the very air that we breathe. In 2022, a study found microplastics in the human bloodstream for the first time - in almost 80% of its participants!


So what does all this mean for our health? Although long-term longitudinal studies (where scientists observe and measure people across multiple years and even decades) have not yet been done, it is clear that the effects are not good. Scientists have observed metabolic and hormonal disturbances due to microplastics. Inflammation from microplastics also has scientists worried.

How to Reduce Microplastic Pollution

There is a silver lining to all this. You have the power to reduce miroplastic pollution! By making better daily choices, you can limit both how much pollution you contribute to the planet and how much you expose your body to microplastics.


Opt for reusable options when possible, and when not possible (such as bin bags and pet waste bags!), choose a compostable zero-plastic option that breaks down cleanly into nature and generates no microplastics.