Plastic Microbeads: How Your Beauty and Bath Products Are Polluting the Oceans

Written by Julia Hoffman, ESLLC 2016-2017

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Many products like shower gels, face wash, and exfoliators are loaded with tiny plastic mircobeads that although seem harmless, are building up rapidly in our oceans. As many people are well aware, plastic does not biodegrade so all of the plastic that has been manufactured on Earth is still here to this day: floating in our oceans, killing fish, and building up in our landfills. Many people are not aware that their daily skin care routine is actually causing environmental damage because these beads are so tiny, but that is actually the main problem. These beads are so small that they pass through our filtration systems and end up in rivers, lakes and oceans- by the billions every single day. These beads are even found in makeup, lip gloss, toothpaste, and nail polish. These beads make their way into the oceans and if they are eaten by fish it can kill the fish or even worse poison the fish that ends up in your California roll! While manufacturing those microbeads, billions of waste products go down into the lakes and other water bodies and intoxicate them. A recent study has stated that about 8 million tons of plastic materials are disposed in the ocean every year. North America’s Great Lakes in 2012 did a landmark study on these microbeads and discovered minute polymer pieces everywhere. Many countries are taking stands to ban the use and sale of products containing microbeads; the UK government is working to ban all microbeads by the end of 2017. The US and Canadian governments are also working on banning these harmful plastics from being used in products. Great strides have been made to eliminate these plastics from our waterways, but it is up to consumers to boycott these products to protect our environment.

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