Plastic Microbeads are nasty

Plastic microbeads? Where you might find them and why they are a threat to the health of our waterways.

By Jasmin Lim

Long gone are the days where I vigorously scrubbed my acne prone face with Clean & Clear Morning Burst, in the hopes that all my teenage problems would disappear, and I’d be left with clean, fresh and smooth skin. Because lets be honest, that was our gravest issue at 16, and that $9 face wash came with the promise of everything we longed for – eternal beauty and happiness.

I have since grown up – and realised there is much more to beauty, health and happiness than the complexion of your skin, and much more to healthy skin than what you slap on your face – who would have thought at age 16?

Anyway, getting back to where I was going with this story…  We (and the entire Environmental Awareness Movement) have much cause to celebrate, as President Obama has just banned the use of microbeads in all personal care products in the Unites States. Yup, that’s right, those tiny plastic beads you have been rubbing all over your face and body are now outlawed in the U.S.

When it comes to waste, size matters. The tiny nature of these non-biodegradable microbeads means that once these little suckers get washed down your drain and enter a wastewater treatment plant, they don’t get caught in the filters, and are discharged directly into rivers, lakes and the ocean. Fish, turtles and other aquatic life then feed on the tiny bits of plastic that become lodged in their stomach and intestines, causing them to suffer much pain and many health problems.  

The perfectly smooth and spherical shape of the microbead made them an instant beauty industry hit, being added to everything from cleansers to toothpastes. However, there has been no scientific evidence of their effectiveness, and much to justify their banishment. In September 2015, a study published in Environmental Science & Technology reported that more than 8 trillion microbeads were entering Americas aquatic habitats daily – amounting to a volume large enough to coat the surface of 300 tennis courts every day – and for that we say good riddance to the little suckers!

Hopefully New Zealand will follow suit shortly, as since natural alternatives exist, it is absolutely nonsensical to continue the use of these polluting little suckers. Therefore, I beg you to say goodbye to your exfoliating shower gel and make this DIY scrub instead. If you’re coffee and coconut crazy like us, then you’re bound to have everything in your pantry. So why not be a good Samaritan and help save the planet and some dosh at the same time? Oh, and you’re welcome. 

To learn more about microbeads head over to:

http://www.watershedcouncil.org/microbeads.html
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