These shocking pictures illustrate the amount of plastic we consume over time

We all know plastic pollution is having a devastating impact on the planet – but have you ever stopped to consider how much you might be ingesting every day, without even realising?

A 2019 WWF study found that people could be consuming the equivalent of a plastic credit card a week, mainly through plastic-infused drinking water but also through food like shellfish.

Now, new pictures have been created to illustrate the cumulative amount of microscopic pieces of plastic we consume every day.

Reuters used the findings of the WWF study to highlight what this amount of plastic actually looks like over various periods of time, and here’s what they came up with…

In a month, it’s thought the average person ingests the weight of a 4×2 Lego brick in plastic. And, in a year, the equivalent of a fireman’s helmet.

This means that in a decade we could be eating as much as  2.5 kg (5.5lb) in plastic – the equivalent of more than two sizeable pieces of plastic pipe. Over a lifetime, that equates to 20 kg (44lb) of microplastic.



Because plastic is not biodegradable it can only break down into smaller pieces which end up on beaches and being consumed by wildlife – and therefore entering the human food chain.

Malcolm Hudson, a professor of environmental science at the University of Southampton, explains that most research has been done on microplastics – but there are increasing amounts of even smaller particles called nanoplastics in the environment. These are far more difficult to detect and it’s likely we are ingesting them as well.


Malcolm said: ‘It could pass into our blood or lymphatic system and end up in our organs.

‘Those plastic particles are little time bombs waiting to break down small enough to be absorbed by wildlife or by people and then potentially have harmful consequences.’

The photo series certainly gives us food for thought.

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