Microbeads have recently been re-introduced to me as an environmental issue by my friends over at Be The Dirt.
I will admit that at some point in the past I was vaguely made aware that Microbeads were bad, but it’s time to remind myself how bad they really are…
Microbeads are little plastic spheres found in a large range of health and beauty products. Their purpose is to “scrub” areas more thoroughly by increasing the abrasiveness of the products they are in. They get washed down the drain into the sewage system and water treatment plants currently have no capabilities to catch the microbeads. This results in microbeads entering the ocean where they are magnets for pollutants and get eaten by fish (which ultimately get eaten by us) [BeatTheMicrobead.org].
The State of Maine, along with dozens of other states, is in the process of banning microbeads. For those who have never lived in New England, the political culture in Maine right now is contentious to say the least (the Republican Governor pledged on the 29th of May to veto all Democrat-sponsored bills, he’s up to 22 vetoes so far). The fact that this law has widespread support shows how obvious and important this step is.
The question now is: what do I do with the face wash I already have? In my lapse of memory regarding how bad microbeads are, I purchased face wash with microbeads several weeks ago. I have about half a bottle left and have been left wondering what to do with it. Continuing to use it doesn’t seem to be an option, but throwing it out the bottle seems wrong too since it has a plastic casing which may be recyclable. I’ve thought about transferring the liquid to a biodegradable container but that means the beads will eventually end up in the soil and possibly the water supply. Are they better off then remaining trapped in the plastic container? I think in this case I’ll be forced to throw the whole thing out.
Microbeads are in hundreds, if not thousands, of products and consumer preference is a big part of why they are still used. If you want to check to see if any of your products have microbeads then I recommend downloading Beat the Microbead’s free app. I definitely will use the app to make sure I never again buy microbead products and have already used it to check the other products I own (thankfully my toothpaste is microbead free!).
Here’s to a future where you don’t end up eating your face wash’s polluted leftovers with your haddock fillet.