You may have read last fall in the news how plastic beads are invading the great lakes. It was a powerful story with an important message – what we wash down the drain ends up in our rivers, lakes, oceans and wildlife.
Things don’t just magically go away, they have to go somewhere. While our water/sewage system does filter some out, it doesn’t filter everything. These little plastic beads (called microbeads or microplastics) are small enough to pass through the water filtration systems and unfortunately, have made their way into rivers and lakes and ultimately fish and other marine life. Ultimately, the microbeads and the toxins that can accumulate in plastics, can make their way back to us.
Where can these plastic beads be found (besides Nemo’s stomach)? Mostly face scrubs and body scrubs. Aveeno, Clean & Clear, Neutrogena and Olay are all guilty of including it in their products, as are the generic drugstore brands (even my beloved Target) that make knock-off products of the big brands.
So how do you know if your scrubby-product is plastic? Look at the ingredients list. Plastic beads will be labeled as polyethelene, polypropylene , polyethylene terephthalate, or polymethyl methacrylate.
Normally with products that aren’t super ‘green’, I tell people just to finish what they have and then choose something more natural the next go-round. This is one instance where I do not recommend finishing the product. Don’t even use another drop. Duct tape up that plastic bead product so it is sealed and throw it in the trash. It’s just not worth adding more plastic beads into our waterways.
Knowing what is going on is only one part of it, you have to do something about it. Thankfully, there are lots and lots of options. I can’t name them all, but here are a few:
Acure Organics Brightening Facial Scrub uses organic lemon peel granules, french green clay and cocoa powder.
Amala Hydrating Face Polish uses finely crushed lychee seeds.
Frangipani Exfoliating Face Gel uses jojoba beads.
Osmia Organics Detox Exfoliating Mask uses finely-ground walnut shells and olive leaf powder.
Surya Brasil Sapien Women Body Scrub and Facial Scrub use natural coconut bark and organic buriti.
Or, just stay away from beads and use a gentle chemical exfoliant like Living Nature’s Vitalising Exfoliant.
Or, go for both! Burt’s Bees Peach & Willow Bark Deep Pore Scrub uses finely ground peach stone and natural salicylic acid. Amala’s Purifying Face Polish uses finely crushed bamboo as well as natural salicylic acid.
These are just a few examples of the many out there. Whatever you choose, please – just don’t choose plastic.
If you want to learn more, visit BeatTheMicrobead.org.