You’re Drinking Plastic, Science Says

You’re Drinking Plastic, Science Says

Trash piles up on shore. Credit: European Wilderness Society.

Envision plastic floating in the air all around you in tiny pieces. See it sitting on the top of your drinking water, in your food, and in your body. Dream of a world plastic-covered, with wrappers and garbage and small bits of it piling up on windowsills and in crevices. This is the current reality for ocean life, and it is beginning to become our human reality. 

A media-fueled uproar has occurred in the past five years in response. The plastic conversation, led mainly by the topic of plastic straws and bags, has aimed a spotlight on ocean pollution. Restaurants, coffee shops, and other straw-dealing businesses have ditched their plastic straws in an effort to combat the ocean-bound waste. Though banning plastic straws has helped the cause, some say it is a misplaced attempt to save the oceans and is simply a form of viral environmental consumerism

Plastics are not biodegradable. Larger plastics will simply degrade down to smaller forms to the point of being considered microplastics. Plastics that are less than 5 mm in length are considered ‘micro,’ and these are the most prevalent form of waste found in the oceans (NOAA). As microplastics get smaller and smaller, they are harder to detect by scientists. They often float to the bottom of the ocean floor.

Commercial Fishing and Microplastics

The relationship between microplastics and commercial fisheries is prominent from fishing boat to food market. 

As previously mentioned, the breakdown of larger plastic products into smaller components creates microplastics. It has been previously thought that much of the ocean’s waste comes from consumer packaging plastic, which holds true today. What scientists are just now discovering is that the truth of much microplastic waste is not a fisherman’s tale but is a tale of fishermen. 

Commercial fishing contributes heavily to ocean microplastics. The basis of much of this waste comes from nets, and namely old, deteriorating ones. Smithsonian Magazine reports that new and one-year-old synthetic ropes potentially release 20 microplastic fragments for every yard hauled in the ocean—and that this number climbs exponentially with older equipment. New Atlas estimates that with every meter of old rope hauled in, over 760 fragments of microplastics are released into our sacred oceans. 

Fish are consuming microplastics in every ocean of the world. In Science of the Total Environment, researchers found that aquatic life consumes microplastics in two main ways: actively and passively. While actively consuming microplastics, aquatic life confuses plastics for natural prey, and while passively, particles filter through any openings in the animal. 

When we eat fish and other marine organisms, we risk ingesting these microplastics. According to the Washington Post, a calculation found in June 2019 revealed that for Americans, by just eating, drinking, and breathing, they’re consuming up to 74,000 microplastic particles per year. Another study by the University of Newcastle in Australia estimated that people consume about 5 grams of plastic per week, which is the equivalent of about 3 playing cards. 

What do Microplastics Mean for Your Water?

We’re drinking a variable amount of microplastics in each sip we take from plastic bottles, new research by Orb Media states. Bottled water tested from several sources around the world for microplastics confirms microplastic contamination. Tests on more than 250 bottles from 11 brands show contamination with plastic including polypropylene, nylon, and polyethylene terephthalate (Orb Media, PET). For each liter of bottled water, approximately 10.4 microplastic particles were present. The sizes of these particles were about 100 micron, or .10 mm. At an even smaller level, there were about 314.6 particles per liter located by the industry-standard infrared microscope. 

Research is emerging about the physical harm that microplastics could provoke within humans. We discard many of these particles in waste, but that some are so small that they remain within us. A journal by Scientific Reports suggests that plastics found in fish are likely the direct cause of observed behavioral disorders within those fish.

Let’s Fix It

It may not be possible to completely ‘fix’ the microplastics problem. However, there are some ways to eat and drink differently so that your body may become more plastic-free, as well as ways to help rid our Earth of plastic. 

1. Plastic Bottle-No-More. Filter Your Water. 

Our partner, Business Connect, has several affordable at-home water filter options so that you may avoid risking ingesting microplastics. Their VF100 water filter is a .1 micron filter which meets and exceeds EPA and WHO world standards for filtration. Water filters are the best way to ditch plastic bottles, and they’ll last years longer than disposable items like bottles.

2. Eat Less Fish. 

Try to reduce your consumption of aquatic foods. Plastics exist in up to 386 aquatic species (Ecowatch). Therefore, there isn’t one right fish to buy. When you buy less fish from the market, you are also not feeding into the commercial fishing and netting industry. Many fishing vessels, of the 4.6 million afloat in the world, have illegally dumped old nets and gear for years. This is a problem that will not float away.

3. Don’t Throw Away Your Clothes. 

Clothing fiber is made up mostly of nylon, polyester, acrylic, and other synthetic fibers. A 2017 report states that up to 35% of microplastics in our oceans come from synthetic fabrics. Before you throw your clothes out, consider donating them or reusing them for other purposes. 

Help Us Help You

The problem of microplastics is one of your water, and therefore one of your health. We care about your water situation, no matter the need, as well as your health. Connect with us. If you subscribe to our weekly newsletter, you can get updates about blog posts and happenings in the world of water. We want you to stay informed of everything we’re up to, so you may be included in alleviating the world’s water crisis.

Clean Water & Mental Health

Clean Water & Mental Health

Anyone who’s consumed bad food has experienced unfortunate and miserable outcomes. It’s a lesson learned that putting bad substances in your body results in bodily harm. Same goes with water. Studies show that the human body is 70% water—that’s a lot of water! Fortunately for us, we need it as it’s the fuel that makes everything run as it should, including our brains. Like bad food, bad water can cause issues that affect mental health.

I remember growing up traveling the world; mother would always tell me whether or not I could drink the water. I never understood this, wasn’t water, water? Of course I understood that when water didn’t run clear, it meant that it wasn’t drinkable, or rather, consumable. But there were places where the water ran clear and my mother told me not to drink it. 

It wasn’t until years later in a chemistry class that I fully comprehended why being careful about water, no matter its transparency, mattered.

Contaminators & Effects

“Get out your periodic tables,” my teacher said. “We must look at contaminators to understand why drinking contaminated water is bad for mental health.” 

One by one he listed different elements—“Inorganic arsenic, PCE (organic solvent tetrachloroethylene), lead, mercury…”—before diving into their negative effects.

“All of these things,” he continued, “affect our mental wellbeing. They can cause depression, a deep sadness that steals joy and interests away. A result can be anxiety. Anxiety is when someone is constantly worried. Another is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, also known as PTSD. Symptoms are triggers, usually sense-induced, that brought back to painful memories. Some people even experience bipolar disorder. This disorder causes intense mood swings that range from depression to a manic state.” 

As I sat in my chair taking notes, it occurred to me how important drinking clean water is not only for your body but your mind. 

Mental Health’s Effect On The Brain

Mental illnesses, as many of us know, causes a wide range of problems. Some effects include severe emotional, behavioral, and physical issues including brain damage.  

According to Stone Ridge, when anxiety disorder is left untreated: 

The brain doesn't return to a sense of normalcy when the stress, threat, or danger is gone. Instead, anxiety disorders can trigger your brain's fight or flight mode even when there's no perceived danger. 

This can lead to becoming hypoactive to non-existent threats that over time, make it hard for the brain to reason rationally. 

Depression can lead to brain shrinkage and inflammation. When the brain shrinks, memory loss, stress, rational thinking, emotions, and an irregular sleep pattern can occur. And when brain inflammation occurs, it can lead to severe symptoms and chronic issues such as confusion, seizures, speech or hearing problems, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

The effects of bi-polar disorder, however, can reduce the amount of gray matter in the brain. Gray matter helps process information such as thoughts and feelings, controls impulses, and helps with motor skills. 


When concerning Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), according to a Very Well Mind, can cause damage to the amygdala. This area assesses threats, the formation of emotional memories, and memories. It also affects the prefrontal cortex that is responsible for emotional regulation, decision making, and regulating attention. Other effects of this disorder result in the damage of the mid-anterior cingulate cortex that regulates emotions, registering physical pain, and autonomic functions.

Perception of Mental Health


After my new found knowledge on clean water’s benefits for mental health, I thought everyone should drink clean water. Who doesn’t want good mental health? But then I realized that many countries and cultures, however, perceive mental health differently. For instance, in the western world, it is more acceptable to talk about mental health. But in other places, it’s still considered to be stigmatized, shameful, and wrong. This could be the result of a lack of awareness and mental health professionals. In many areas, religious beliefs are what fills in the holes for science.

Clean Water Is No Where

Another misconception I believed when I was younger was that clear water meant clean. I also believed that developing countries faced water contamination and the water crisis. I was wrong. Technologically advance counties also struggle with these issues.

More than 30 million Americans lived in areas where water systems violated safety rules at the beginning of last year, according to data from the Environmental Protection Agency. Others simply cannot afford to keep water flowing. As with basically all environmental and climate issues, poor people and minority communities are hit the hardest

Time, 2020

The Flint, Michigan Water Crisis is the perfect current-event example of the clean water crisis in the United States. During 2014 to 2019, the city of Flint faced a clean water crisis that its residents without clean water. As read in the Detroit Free Press, while the crisis has ended, the contaminated water and crisis itself contributes to the decline of the residents’ mental health. 


But the issue doesn’t stop at Flint. In 2020, Vox covered how the COVD-19 pandemic highlighted water contamination and crisis in the U.S. The news website writes of the multiple rejected claims for clean water as bottled water was being bought out everywhere. This event, I learned, left thousands of people in a water crisis.

What We Can Do

If you’re like me who can get overwhelmed by thinking about the mental health and the water crisis, fortunately there are things we can do. 

1.) First and foremost is to educate ourselves and others around us on contaminated water’s effect on mental health. I strongly believe that in order to find a solution, identifying the problem is crucial. 

2.) Invest in a water purifying product to help ensure safe drinking water for our mental health. Our partners at Business Connect offer various water treatment and filter systems to ensure safer drinking water. 

3.) Be an advocate for those without safe drinking water. Whether it be for a far off community in a developing nation or in your own community, adding to the noise to demand for basic human rights helps make the voiceless heard.

Our Earth Day Focus: Water Scarcity

Our Earth Day Focus: Water Scarcity

Earth Day reminds some of us making a chocolate layered dirt and worms dessert in school as children. Some are reminded of the phrase, “Ok, Boomer,” echoing in their ear. And for others, memories of the very first Earth Day come flooding back. Whatever the memory the annual day brings, it’s a reminder of our responsibility to create a sustainable life and future. 

On Earth Day, many organizations and companies make their voice known about one particular environmental issue that is close to their heart. Some might be deforestation, climate change, or the genocide of animal species. At Connect For Water, our Earth Day Focus is what we know best: water. Because our company ethos is to fight the water crisis, we thought it appropriate for our Earth Day focus to be on water scarcity. But before we dive right in, we must define what it is -what is water scarcity?

Water Scarcity is the lack of sufficient available water resources to meet the demands of water usage within a region.

Science Daily

Water Scarcity can mean scarcity in availability due to physical shortage, or scarcity in access due to the failure of institutions to ensure a regular supply or due to a lack of adequate infrastructure.

The United Nations

To put it simply, it means that mankind is using up more water than the earth has time to give. 

Different Numbers, Same Problem

Before we go any further, we recognize that there are different ways to calculate water scarcity. However, understanding that the problem remains the same is crucial. 

It’s ironic that the earth is facing a water scarcity with 71% of its surface area being in water. It makes the nickname “Blue Planet” appropriate.  The unfortunate truth, however, is that while only 3% of that water is fresh and consumable, less than 0.5% of consumable water is accessible.

So what does 0.5% look like? If measured in galons, the earth has 326 trillions gallons of water. 3% of that is 9.7 trillion gallons, 0.5% is 1.6 trillion gallons, and according to the Bureau of Reclamation, that equates to 2.2 million gallons for each person. 

Humanity’s Water Consumption

At first glance, 8.5 million liters (2.2 million gallons) for each person on earth doesn’t seem to be too much, but when you add up the water usage of each person, things get a little tricky. Human water usage goes beyond drinking water, showering, and flushing the toilet – it involves productions and infrastructures with agriculture at the top of the list. High Tide Technologies states that on average:

Farms around the world account for 70% of all water that is consumed annually. Of that 70% used by farmers, 40% is lost to the environment due to poor irrigation systems, evaporation, and overall poor water management. 

That’s a lot of water and unfortunately, it doesn’t end there. The garment and textile industry takes second place using 79 billion cubic meters of water per year to produce garments and textiles. The list continues with meat production in third place, the beverage industry in fourth, and automotive manufacturing in fifth. 

Global Warming’s Effect On The Water Cycle & Water Scarcity

Unfortunately, another reason for water scarcity is global warming with its effect on the water cycle. The water cycle, as we all have learned, is essential to life on earth. It affects our weather, ecosystem, water levels, and much more. But due to higher temperatures, massive deforestation, and pollutants, the cycle is changing for the worse, in a way that will greatly affect our water supply. 

The Water Cycle As We Know It

Step 1: Evaporation
Water evaporates from bodies of water such as the ocean, sea, lakes, and rivers. Transpiration, which is when water evaporates from trees and other vegetation, also happens during this stage.

Step 2: Condensation
Evaporated water turns into water vapor that rises up into the atmosphere and its particles condense together to form clouds. It then changes into the form of ice before falling in the form of rain or snow.

Step 3: Precipitation
Rain comes down due to temperature change, and if the temperature is below 0 degrees, the rain becomes snow. In some instances, it comes down as sleet or hail.

Step 4: Surface Runoff
As water pours down in either rain or melted snow, the liquid covers the surface of the earth, filling bodies of water and hydrating vegetation.

Step 5: Infiltration
The leftover water infiltrates deep below the topsoil, filling aquifers that help replenish different bodies of water. It is the top soil that allows for the moisture to be trapped. This water is drinkable and is considered to be the earth’s backup water supply.

What Is To Come

Step 1: Evaporation
Due to higher temperatures, evaporation quickens, adding moisture to the air which sucks up water from bodies of water and vegetation even faster.

Step 2: Condensation
The evaporated water rises into the atmosphere and its particles condense together to form clouds. Due to temperature and wind changes, condensation will be heavy in some places and lighter (and sometimes next to none) in others.

Step 3: Precipitation
Because of the change air in temperatures, the areas where precipitation will occur will be drastic, leaving some areas too wet and others too dry. When precipitation occurs, heavier and warmer rain will increase as well as heavier snow falls.

Step 4: Surface Runoff
Because the water will be warmer, heavier runoffs will be experienced causing landslides that, aside from too much rain, will destroy crops, animals, and infrastructure. Topsoil will also be stripped away. The runoff will carry pollutants that will contaminate bodies of water including humanity’s drinking water. The temperatures of oceans, lakes, and rivers will increase resulting in an overgrowth of algae that will suffocate fish and destroy marine ecosystems. The ocean will increase in acidity causing major changes in ocean currents that can alter weather patterns across the globe.

Step 5: Infiltration
Because topsoil will be stripped away, the ground will not be able to retain moisture for vegetation, and the aquifers will no longer be able to hold water to help replenish bodies of water. This will lead to droughts. We are then left with a cycle of flooding and drought. Every time it floods, more soil will be stripped away, causing evaporation to quicken each time, leaving the ground worse than before.

Consequences of Water Scarcity

Consequences of water scarcity are as vast as they are disastrous.

We know that water scarcity combined with climate change results in a disastrous cycle of extreme drought and downpour. It can also result in severe weather changes such as heat waves,wildfires, hurricanes, and tornados. 

However, the consequences of water scarcity itself can result in much, much more. The lack of drinking water is obvious. As a result, a drastic change in the economy follows suit as prices in water and food increase. This will cause third world countries to suffer first. Poverty and hunger will also increase at an alarming rate. There will be destruction of habitats as well as mass migration, forcing everyone to move to a water supply. Other issues consist of sanitation issues and the spread of disease. The United Nations International Children’s emergency Fund (UNICEF) states that “When water is scarce, sewage systems can fail and the threat of contracting disease like cholera surges. Scare water also becomes more expensive.” 

Living in an inhabitable world is worst case scenario.

Be The Solution

Luckly, we have a chance to stop water scarcity before it’s too late, but we must act quickly. 

First and foremost, we must educate ourselves and those around us on water scarcity. We must know its causes and effects to understand how to fix it. We then must change our lifestyles to become water conservationists – doing everything in our ability to conserve water. One of our authors, Julia Hall, wrote an article titled article titled 4 Hidden Ways to Conserve Water. There, among other sources, people can get conservation ideas. Other solutions include being innovative and part of teams that create new conservation technologies, being vocal in community organizations and political powers.

If you want to learn more about water conservation, we encourage you to follow us on our social media sites and stay informed by signing up for our newsletter!

The Complex Problem in Ghana

The Complex Problem in Ghana

The warm morning sun rises early to a new day in Ghana, to the sound of familiar chatter around your dwelling. The women of one rural village are preparing to fetch water for drinking and bathing, as they do every day, so you join them. You are greeted with “Ɛte sɛn?” or “how are you?” which is a common greeting in Twi, to which you respond “Ɛyɛ” or “I’m fine.” On your walk to the water source, which is little more than a pond, you notice that some of the children are full of life and energy, but others seem sluggish and tired. You want to ask them, “Ɛte sɛn?” but part of you doesn’t want to know the answer.  

Rural Ghana

For Ghana’s rural population, life is not easy. Things we take for granted in the Western world, like water and electricity, are hard to come by. In a prosperous Southern village of Ghana, there may be several local teachers in a concrete school building. But in rural areas, especially Northern Ghana, there may be only one or two teachers in a structure made of mud and thatch roofing. In these areas, children usually only complete primary school because secondary school is too far away from their village. These children will instead join their families to fetch water, complete chores, and help with the farm. Many Ghanaians tend to fields or livestock for their livelihood. While agriculture employs over half of Ghana’s population, particularly in these rural areas, the farmers’ irrigation needs can upset the town’s already insufficient water supply. As a result, many farmers become displaced during seasons of flood and drought.

Migration to Cities

Urbanization is a complex trend occurring across the African continent. In Ghana, many people began moving towards cities in the 1990s during the presidency of Jerry Rawlings. Since then, Ghana’s government has successfully increased access to public education, healthcare, and WASH services in urban areas. According to the Radiant Ghana Guide, 93% of Ghana’s urban population now has access to clean drinking water. The massive growth of Ghana’s urban population has also come with a boost to the economy, mainly due to the development of Ghana’s oil industry (International Monetary Fund). But many people still living in rural Ghana have not felt the benefits of governmental stability. Ghana’s success is slow-reaching for the rural population, where only 35% of people have access to clean drinking water.

Illegal Mines

Noticing these desperate rural communities of Ghana, Chinese nationals have begun ‘moving in’ to operate illegal mines. Locals in need of cash will “galamsey”, or “gather them and sell” to the Chinese, who smuggle the precious minerals out of the country. This is exceedingly dangerous work. Many men either die in homemade mine-shafts or from exposure to toxic chemicals used during extraction. The heavy metals brought out by extraction during these small-scale mining operations have a large impact: they contaminate waterways, sometimes for entire communities (NASA). Because of the serious environmental impact of galamsey, Ghana’s government has taken a strict stand against this illegal mining. After deploying 200 soldiers to lakes and rivers in Central and Western Ghana, President Akufo-Addo said, 

“Mining becomes a danger to the society when, after extracting the gold, diamond, or other stones and minerals, the land is left degraded and poisoned with toxic materials.” (Reuters)

The success of Ghana’s government in standing up to these external forces again proves their strength and resilience. Still, the current situation is far from solved for the men, women, and children living in rural areas. These mines are hard to locate since they are on such a small scale. They are also hidden away in dense forests and sometimes only contain a few men per site. Often illegal mines are also scattered near legal mining operations. This makes the distinction between legal and illegal mining hard to spot. 

Oftentimes, we want to make a difference by setting goals for ourselves. Perhaps we promise to take shorter showers or turn off the tap. Unfortunately, being fully sustainable and waste free is unfeasible. The good news is that small changes make a big difference. If more people subtly changed their routines, it would make more of an impact than anything else.

Help Ghana 

Rural Ghana has a need you can help us fulfill. Interested in helping Ghanaians access clean water? You can make an impact on their lives today: we have several ways to help. If you want to receive more stories like this or have a question, fill out our connection form here. Go to our giving page if you’d like to become a water sponsor, are interested in championing a project, or simply give.

Fitah’s Story

Fitah’s Story

A Success Story...

Bringing clean water to those in need.
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Fitah’s Story

Fitah is a young man from Madagascar in his upper 20’s who studied music in the US before going back home to teach it.  He realized a couple years into running his music institute that he wanted to do more to help the people of his country.  After getting introduced to Business Connect’s Africa Director through a mutual colleague, Fitah and a couple business partners put together a plan for marketing water filters to NGOs working all over Madagascar and selling them to individuals in the capital city.

The one big thing that was lacking was seed capital to buy the initial inventory to get the business off the ground.  With a donor funded loan through Business Connect, Fitah and his partners were able to procure an initial shipment of Clarity and Village water filters.

They have utilized some local marketing students to help develop sales strategies and have been busy implementing those ideas over the last 6 months.  The road hasn’t been smooth or easy, but they have learned a lot about what does and doesn’t work.

Fitah has been able to set up a small business to give back to the people of Madagascar because of the generosity of donors in the US who see the benefit of creating businesses as a way of delivering aid and hope around the world.  The initial funding is being paid back to BC as products are sold, in order to enable this to be replicated elsewhere in the world.

This is a great work that benefits the people of Madagascar And yet, there is still many more individuals and families that need access to clean, safe drinking water. This event happened only because of people like you that championed water filters for others. Click here to learn how you can become a C4W Champion. Click here to learn about other types of water filters are available through our business partner, Business Connect, Inc. Connect with us to learn more about our water projects and how you can become a part of them – worldwide.

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