You may have heard about plastic and microbeads in our oceans and about the Microbead-Free Waters Act going into effect in July of 2017. How did microbeads become such a big deal? April 22 is Earth Day, and I can’t think of a better time to blog about the devastation plastics and microbeads are causing.
The Cycle of Microbeads
Microbeads are tiny particles of plastic originally added to hand wash, toothpaste, face wash and scrubs, and other personal care products as exfoliators. They get washed down the drain to waste water treatment plants that weren’t designed to filter such small particles. A huge percentage end up in sludge and used as fertilizer. After being spread on crops, the microbeads get washed into streams, rivers, lakes and oceans where fish and other aquatic life ingest them. They are impossible to remove and do not break down. The implications for human health as a result of eating fish and seafood contaminated with microbeads is unknown.
Microbeads are not the only concern for our oceans. Fragmentation of larger pieces of plastic are damaging the oceans as well. Plastic shopping bags, generally used for a matter of minutes, can last in the environment for 100 years. Nearly 2 million single-use plastic bags are distributed world-wide every minute. Choosing to use reusable water bottles and skipping the straw and carrying a reusable shopping bag are small ways to reduce our plastic usage.
The Microbead-Free Waters Act will not instantly remove all microbeads out of existence. Manufacturers are phasing them out, but there are many loopholes. You may have products at home that contain them. Check any products before you purchase, to make sure you are not contributing to the problem. If you find you already have products containing microbeads, you can return them to the manufacturer, telling them why you are choosing not to use the product. Or dispose of it in your trash where it will end up in a landfill and burned. Not an ideal solution, but far better than having it end up in the ocean.
Neal’s Yard Remedies has never used microbeads in their scrubs and exfoliators. Instead, they only use highly effective natural exfoliators like peach seed, organic ground rice, rosehip seed powder, lotus seed, argan kernel and ground pumice powder. Honey & Orange Facial Scrub contains ground rice. Rehydrating Rose Facial Polish gently exfoliates with wild rose seed powder to smooth and revitalize your face. Seaweed Salt Scrub uses sea salt for deep cleansing and toning. Pumice Foot Scrub contains peach seed and pumice powder as natural exfoliators. Visit my website for these and other great microbead-free products.
Learn more about the problem of micro plastics in the ocean at Beat the Microbead
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