Ban The Bead!!
Today I’m getting on my soapbox (no pun intended!) and talking about MICROBEADS! Those teeny, tiny bits of PLASTIC, smaller than a grain of sand. YES, they are everywhere. You may be swishing them around in your mouth or rubbing them in your face. Microbeads show up in lots of personal care products: face soaps, body wash, toothpaste, even age defying makeup. Companies put them in these products as exfoliates or just for texture. You may not even realize you’re using them unless you know what to look for: polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate.
The biggest problem with microbeads is that they’re designed to go down the drain. Most water treatment plants can’t capture them so BILLIONS of them end up in our waterways – our rivers, lakes, seas. Tiny bits of plastic from body washes and other products are polluting the Great Lakes. A California research group recently found more than 450,000 plastic particles per square kilometer in Lake Erie, DOUBLE what similar surveys have found in oceans. Comparable levels of plastic microbeads have also been found in samples from Lake Superior and Lake Huron. And even worse, these tiny bits of plastic act like sponges soaking up the toxics around them. A single microbead can wind up being a MILLION times more toxic than the water around it. Once in our waterways, they get eaten by fish and other animals. They could even make their way right back to you in your sushi. How’s that for the circle of life!
Why do companies put these plastic microbeads in their products? BECAUSE, plastic is cheaper than the natural exfoliates we used to use, like coca beans, sea salts, and sesame seeds. Plus, it’s an excuse to sell more stuff. Those natural exfoliates worked so well, you would only use them once a week. Microbeads are smooth enough to use every day. Which means you run out quicker and have to buy more of that product.
The good news is we ARE moving forward in Banning The Bead. Illinois became the first state to ban the manufacture and sale of products containing microbeads. The Body Shop, Johnson & Johnson, and L’Oréal have pledged to phase out plastic microbeads from their products. Places around the world are considering outright bans. The Netherlands is the first country to announce its intent to be virtually free of microbeads in cosmetics by next year.
No matter where you live you can Ban the Bead! Let’s get them out of our stuff, out of our waterways and out of our bodies.
by Queen Sunny, Florida, Fit 'n Fabulous Chapter of the Red Hat Society
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