Don’t Flush It!!......
For most people it is much better for their eyes if they replace their contact lenses frequently, often on a daily basis is best. Doing so produces plastic waste both from the contact lenses and the blister packs and cardboard packaging they come in.
Recent research indicates that possibly 20% of contact lens wearers dispose of their used contact lenses by flushing them down the toilet or sink. There are 5 million contact lens wearers in the UK.
Fragmentation of contact lenses into microplastics (particles less than 5mm in size) within a wastewater treatment plant can occur that can then result in microplastics pollution of our rivers and oceans. UK rivers have some of the highest concentrations in the world. In fact the river Tame at Denton in Greater Manchester has the world’s worst recorded micro-plastic pollution, according to a study in march 2018 at University of Manchester. It recordedover half a million – 517,000 particles – per square metre, more than some of the worst rivers in the Far East.
The problem is due to the fact that the plastics do not degrade, merely breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces over time. Microplastics have been shown to have a negative effect on the health of some forms of sealife, even sometimes causing death.
Because bottom feeding sealife which injest these microplastic particles form part of the food chain it is likely that these particles will affect birds and animals higher in the food chain, possibly humans too.
The flotsam in the pacific ocean, nick-named the great Pacific Garbage Patch has been estimated to be 3x the size of france.
People think of contact lenses as being too small to cause much of a problem. This is NOT the case. Because so many people are flushing them directly into the water system, they pose a real threat. We must do something about this NOW.
Conventional recycling facilities typically cannot handle contactlenses and their blister packs.
Until now the best advice has been to put your contact lens waste apart from the cardboard packaging into the normal domestic waste bin.
In this area it will be incinerated at high tempreture producing only carbon dioxide and water. This is less than ideal as it still contributes to raising the levels of greenhouse gases, but at least it produces valuable electricity for the national grid and does not contaminate the atmosphere or oceans.
There is a new scheme now underway at certain forward thinking optometry practices such as the Matheson Optometrists group with several branches in Hampshire, where there are special contact lens collection boxes. People can put there used contact lenses and blister packs into these boxes and they will be sent to specialist recycling centres just for this type of material. This is something we can all do to make a difference by lowering the microplastic polution of our oceans and global warming.
Matheson Optometrists also recycle people’s old spectacles that are no longer required. The are measured and serviced and catalogued and taken with their optometrists to places such as the deprived areas of Eastern Europe and Africa.
Pic of purple recycling box
Purple collection boxes are available at all Matheson Optometrists practices for this purpose. Childrens spectacles are especially needed for these charitable trips to africa
Make a difference now, recycle your spex and contact lenses, help the environment and those less fortunate than you in undeveloped countries.
Why not visit the matheson-optometrists.com youtube video channel to find out more about these ventures?