If you plug the word “Microbeads” into Google you will quickly learn that they are plastic microspheres that are widely used in cosmetics as exfoliating agents and in personal care products such as toothpaste. They are most frequently made of polyethylene but can be of other petrochemical plastics such as polypropylene and polystyrene.
I wasn’t aware of microbeads until recently, despite having bought several products featuring them over the last few years. As time has gone on, the malicious microbead has replaced traditional, biodegradable alternatives, like ground nut shells and salt crystals, as ingredients in lots of products. Companies that include them in their ingredients lists boast that they polish teeth and gently remove dead skin and improve circulation. But the cost of beauty in this case is pretty high.
Microbeads are extremely harmful to the environment. Because microbeads are so small, our water filtration systems can’t filter them out. When we dump them down the drain, microbeads flow into our seas and oceans, where they contribute to the ever-growing “plastic soup” that surrounds us. Microplastics can be found on almost every beach, on polar icecaps and just about everywhere in the oceans.
In addition to this, marine animals eat these beads, thus introducing plastic into the food chain. I’m not too sure about you, but I like to keep my plastic consumption at a minimum, thank you very much! Interestingly, a lot of the fish that microbeads have been found in are ones that humans tend to consume the most (mussels, tuna, oysters, salmon and anchovies).
Quite alarmingly, microplastics seem to be even more dangerous than we thought. When plastics break down, toxic substances that can cause hormonal imbalances or neurological diseases are released. As well as that, microbeads attract persistent organic pollutants (POPs) such as PCBs and DDT, which have a negative impact on human health when consumed in dangerous quantities.
That’s only the tip of the iceberg. To read more go to Beat the Mircobead’s website.
All of that information is horrifying, truly. The thing that really gets me, though, is that MICROBEADS AREN’T EVEN THAT GOOD AT EXFOLIATING!! At least, they certainly aren’t better than any alternative you can find that will cost about the same price.
Thankfully, a lot of policy-makers and consumers are finally starting to fight back. Canada has already banned microbeads and many other countries are on track to do the same. We as consumers can still vote with our dollar too. I would implore you all to avoid products with microbeads in them. Here’s a link to a list of products that contain microbeads.
Thanks for reading!