Contact lenses are not very environmentally friendly
It can be overwhelming to think about everything we use that contributes to pollution. Unfortunately, contacts are one of the many everyday necessities that do not respect the environment. Contacts are made of plastic, and with that plastic comes a plethora of environmental issues.
A Arizona State University study found that 20% of people who wear contact lenses flush them down the toilet or down the drain after using them. At first glance, this may not seem like a problem. After all, contacts are tiny and transparent. What harm would it do to get rid of them in silence like that?
Their tiny size is actually part of the problem. By the time contacts end up in sewage treatment plants or on farmland, they are essentially a ball of plastic. This sludge eventually breaks down and turns into microplastics which cause serious environmental and health problems to all animals, especially marine life.
It is estimated that 14 billion contact lenses are thrown away each year. That’s an incredibly high number of tiny pieces of single-use plastic. To make matters worse, lentils are denser than water and eventually sink into the oceans where they are pushed. Bottom feeders could end up accidentally consuming the plastic shells.
Their transparency is also problematic and makes them difficult to detect, especially in wastewater treatment plants. Although wastewater treatment is designed to purify water, experts do not know how these treatments affect lenses. Contact lenses are typically made with poly, silicone, and fluoropolymers that allow the eye to breathe despite having a plastic layer on top, not what the typical plastic ketchup bottle might be made of.
As more lentils find their way into the water, they are eventually eaten by marine life, which can then be eaten by humans, bringing back the little convex plastics that help us see through our food chain.
The lenses themselves aren’t the only things that are harmful. Small plastic and aluminum packaging cannot be recycled. Therefore, it will always end up in a landfill, even if it is placed in recycling with the best of intentions. There is also the problem with the contact lens solution since it always comes in a thick plastic bottle. While a small bottle here and a bit of packaging there may not seem like a significant amount, the amount of each used by each contact wearer around the world adds up. very quick.
How to be better
The Bausch + Lomb UN by UN recycling program with Terracycle helps contact users do what’s best for the environment while enjoying being able to see. Contact lenses, foil and blister packs can all be recycled through this innovative program. It starts with eyecare professionals who sign up for the program and receive recycling bins for contacts, foils and blisters. When the bins reach their maximum capacity, eyecare professionals can affix the free shipping label and send the recycling to Terracycle.
Glasses are also a simple and environmentally friendly alternative. After all, you don’t have to throw them away every day! You can also ask your optometrist for glass contacts or switch to contacts that do not need to be replaced daily.
There is also Lasik surgery if you feel passionate about never having to buy another pair of glasses or contact lenses again!
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