Mercy Tips to Care for Earth

Does driving contribute to plastic pollution? 

By Jason Giovannettone, Climate and Sustainability Director 

Last week Sister Rose Marie Tresp discussed how the surge in online ordering and home deliveries has led to increased traffic congestion, air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and packaging waste.  This trend also contributes to plastic pollution due to packaging and due to the delivery vehicle itself.   

One of the major contributors to plastic pollution in our water is secondary microplastic, or plastic that breaks off larger pieces of plastic. As one example, the tires of an automobile represent a significant source of microplastics due to the enormous number of vehicles on the roads today. A large portion of tires is made from synthetic materials. When pieces of a tire break off or tire dust is created from normal wear and tear, these synthetic materials are released in the form of microplastics (NOAA Marine Debris Program Office of Response and Restoration). Once released into the environment, these particles can easily enter a nearby river or stream when it rains.  Microplastics are small enough to elude most water filtration systems and can eventually enter our drinking water.   

Mercy Tip:  As research is still being done on suitable and more environmentally friendly options for tires, try to reduce your driving, particularly if you are driving alone. Eliminate unnecessary trips or carpool as much as possible.