10:00 Natural Living & Health

Microbead Plastics: Should They be Banned?

We all love a good scrub after playing hard and getting dirty, and most of us turn to our favorite body and face washes for that. But what if the ones you’re using happen to have microbeads in them? Initially thought to be the perfect solution to exfoliating with their small size and perfect spherical shape, these micro plastics began appearing in everything from facial cleanser to toothpaste…but the microbead’s reputation is anything but squeaky clean. These tiny particles are making big waves with one dirty little secret – they wreak havoc on the environment.

We were hopeful that these tiny beads were a harmless means to a cleaner mug, but the reality is that the plastics found in many body washes and facial scrubs have devastating effects on wildlife, especially in the Great Lakes region. It turns out these bitty beads have been busy making their way into large aquatic ecosystems where they absorb harmful chemicals in the water, and are then gobbled up by fish and other marine life, mistaking them for food. They oftentimes cause damage and even death, and are eventually found embedded in the tissue of different organisms. Although there is currently no evidence of the potential effects on humans, (it is yet to be researched) there is very real concern that they are making their way back into the food chain to be ingested by us.

Even though this may sound foreboding, there’s some good news. As researchers gather more evidence of the threat these products pose, states have begun to ban their manufacturing and sale. Illinois has taken a particularly strong stance on the matter, paving the path for many others, preventing any further production in order to preserve the already declining state of marine environments. There’s also a few campaigns, such as The Story of Stuff, and Beat the Bead that aim to raise awareness about environmental issues. Beat The Bead even has an app designed to display whether your soap houses these pesky little particles, just open it up, scan the barcode on your face scrub, and Viola! No plastic, no problem. If you can’t access the app, just look for ingredients like polyethylene or polypropylene, indicators that there’s plastic present.

You can check out The Story of Stuff Project’s sweet video here:

There’s also ways to get involved through simple alternatives. Educating ourselves as consumers about ingredients and making small adjustments to our collection of personal care products can go a long way, and luckily for those of us who enjoy the “ultra clean” feeling of textured soaps and scrubs, there are many companies that create environmentally safe and natural products that leave skin feeling fresh and smelling good enough to eat.

So ditch the plastics already and give the earth a helping hand by reaching for something natural.

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