Microbeads – What are they?

You are walking down the aisle with all of the zillions of selections of body scrubs and face washes. As you scan over the masses of bottles in front of you, it is overwhelming to figure out which one to choose. Well, let me make it a bit more simple for you. If it says “microbeads” or anything of the sort, move on to the next option.

Why? Because those microbeads are actually small particles of plastic that are exfoliating your face and then being washed down the drain and into our waterways!!! A few years ago, many companies replaced natural exfoliants with small plastics, listed in the ingredients as polyethylene and polypropylene. About 1/3 of a millimeter in size, these microbeads of plastic and the pollutants/chemicals they attract are being ingested by over 663 species of marine wildlife. What may be even more difficult for you to swallow is that the circle of life continues with us eating these animals and thus ingesting bi-products of the very solutions we washed down the drain!

Despite being so small, the problem they are creating is astoundingly BIG! In fact, a 2011 study estimated that there are more plastics than plankton in our oceans! Even more disturbing is that a single plastic microbead can be 1 million times more toxic than the water around it. To put this into perspective, that exfoliating face wash you are using…well, it contains up to 300,000 of these toxic microbeads!!!

Shockingly, current statistics state that approximately 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic are currently in the world’s oceans and 92% of these are micro plastics (microbeads)! Essentially, we have created a plastic smog in our oceans and waterways.

Unfortunately, while you can choose to reduce the amount of plastic you use and recycle other plastic packaging, you cannot control where the microbeads end up. Once used, they go down your drain, into the sewer systems and then often into rivers, lakes, or other waterways. The microbeads are not completely removed in the sanitation process and remain in the sewer sludge that is often used as fertilizer. These microbeads then seep into the soil!

The only way to control the negative effect of microbeads is to eliminate your use of them and educate your friends and family so they can begin to do the same! Do NOT buy products with microbeads on the label or polyethylene and polypropylene in the list of ingredients.

Change starts with us and our purchasing power – keep plastic off of your skin and out of our waterways.

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