Microplastics are purposely added to cosmetics and personal care products for scrubbing and exfoliating and get washed down drains that are not designed to filter out these products. These beads have been regularly added to beauty and personal care products since the 1990s (Perschbacher, History, p.1, 2016) and continue to contribute to the plastic pollution problem in our oceans and bodies of water. (Beat the Microbead, p.1.)
Microbeads have been found in many self-care products such as face washes, body washes, soaps, toothpaste, which you may notice once you use them. Many of us have products like these in our households because we don’t know what to look for in the ingredients such as polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate, polymethyl methacrylate, polylactic acid, or nylon (Drahl, p.1, 2016). While bans have been passed or at least introduced in Canada and the U.S, among other countries, these products may still be on the market for a little while longer.
“Because of their pervasiveness and tiny size, microbeads are virtually impossible to remove from the environment, especially water. Prevention through legislation by banning the manufacture and sale of products containing microbeads is a key mitigation strategy” (Perschbacher, History, p.1, 2016).
Natural Alternatives to Microbeads (Perschbacher, Impact, p.1, 2016)
- Cocoa Beans
- Apricot Pits
- Sea Salt
- Ground Pumice
Beat the Microbead
This downloadable app for your smartphone will scan product barcodes at home or in the store to conveniently tell you if that product contains microbeads. This app is “part of the International Campaign against Microbeads in Cosmetics” (Perschbacher, Consumer, p.1, 2016) and is supported by 100 Non-Government Organizations in 42 countries (Beat the Microbead, p.1.).
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Sources and Further Readings:
Perschbacher, Ellen – History and Evolution Of the Microbead, 2016
International Campaign Against Plastic in Cosmetics
Drahl, Carmen – What You Need To Know About Microbeads, The Banned Bath Product Ingredients, 2016
Perschbacher, Ellen – Tiny Plastics Inflict Huge Environmental and Human Health Impact, 2016
Perschbacher, Ellen – Consumer Decisions Can Curb Microbead Pollution, 2016