We live in a time where demonstrating concern for our environment has become downright necessary. We’ve welcomed the move to charge for plastic bags, we advocate the use of technologies like solar panels, almost every Uber you jump into is likely to be a Prius and sustainability has become a buzzword.
And yet, millions of women are innocently using products that contain non-biodegradable plastic that harm the environment on a daily basis. Used primarily as exfoliants, tiny pieces of plastic called microbeads are in a multitude of everyday products from face scrub to toothpaste. These microbeads go down the drain, but are too small to be filtered out during the water treatment process, and so end up polluting our oceans and poisoning the fish we eat.
This worrying impact upon marine life is now being flagged by a number of prominent charities, including Greenpeace, and the international campaign ‘Beat The Microbead’ has been gaining momentum since Obama banned them in December 2015.
Although people are starting to take notice, a multitude of products that contain this unnecessary plastic remain widely available, from numerous ‘Visibly Clear’ Neutrogena products to three different Elizabeth Arden products including their ‘Skin Balancing Exfoliating Cleanser’.
The microbead is so ubiquitous that even brands that we associate with top quality, natural ingredients like Sisley use them; their ‘Gentle Facial Buffing Cream’ appears on the ‘Beat The Microbead’ list, as does Clinique’s ‘Sparkle Skin’ body scrub. Other body scrubs that contain this incriminating ingredient include L’Occitane’s ‘En Provence Almond Shower Scrub’ and Dermalogica’s ‘Exfoliating Body Scrub’ (whatever happened to a good old fashioned bit of sand!?). The list goes on and on, even products such as toothpaste, like Arm & Hammer’s ‘Truly Radiant Whitening & Enamel Strengthening Paste’, are known to contain plastic beads.
So what is being done, we might ask? Ethical campaigners and beauty experts alike are calling upon David Cameron to follow in the US and Canada’s footsteps by banning the use of microbeads. Over 226,000 people have already signed the petition run by Greenpeace, which you can find and add your name to by simply searching ‘microbead petition’.
The ‘Beat The Microbead’ campaign has the support of 82 NGOs from 35 countries, and their website states that 239 brands from 59 different manufacturers have already promised to remove microbeads from their products. Companies like Boots, Avon and The Body Shop have also pledged not to use microbeads in their products, however they may still stock items containing them.
Until policy changes, it is crucial not to underestimate the power of the consumer. Ultimately, you can help fight the microbead purely by being aware of them and the products they are likely to be used in.
If in doubt, check the lists provided on The ‘Beat The Microbead’ website. Simply not buying something speaks volumes, and when sales of certain products plummet, big business has to sit up and take notice. At the Oscars, Leo called upon us all to be a part of the change, and awareness about small stuff like this is a great place to start.
DIY Scrubs: Natural Alternatives You’ll Find in Your Kitchen
• Sea Salt
• Baking Soda
Featured Image from The New Scientist