The issue: micro plastics that are in household products are being washed down the drain, through our filtration systems and into waterways, and then absorbing toxins before they are ingested and accumulated in the food chain. These tiny little plastic beads have been stealthily added as an abrasive to so many products, think body scrubs, toothpaste, face wash, hand soap, etc. Innocent consumers are attracted to these exfoliating microbeads thinking they’ve just lucked out with a revolutionary product, when in fact the beauty benefits are massively outweighed by the injury to our ecosystems.
I want to draw attention to this issue because it has a very simple solution. We, as consumers, can easily STOP consuming these products because there are so many effective alternatives. You can still exfoliate your face just fine with a plastic-free product, and it won’t even cost you extra. (Look for apricot kernel shells or jojoba beads instead.) Several campaigns have been initiated to ban the sale of these plastics in Canada and many companies are already voluntarily ceasing production. Simple awareness of what to avoid (polyethylene, polypropylene) will hopefully nip this in the bud before it becomes a major health issue.
These small plastic beads, ranging in size from 0.0004 to 1.24 mm, are washed down the drain after use and are too small to be picked up our waste water filtration systems. They flow freely into oceans and lakes where they act as a sponge, absorbing a multitude of toxins. These toxin-laden beads are then accumulated into the food chain by a number of ways; they can be ingested by micro life such as zooplankton and bacteria and then work their way up the food chain through larger predators, they can be mistaken as fish eggs or zooplankton and eaten by a predator, or they could find their way back into our drinking water.
The Great Lakes – the largest surface freshwater system on Earth, containing about 20% of the world’s freshwater – are already showing concerning concentrations of microbeads. We cannot afford to jeopardize our precious drinking water sources, so spread the word and don’t buy microbeads!
Bonus: a handy info-graph (if you like that kind of thing):