In The News: Ban on Microbeads

Anyone who knows anything about health and beauty products knows that polyethylene beads or plastic "microbeads" are commonplace in the industry. Advertised to help exfoliate, a single product can contain over 300,000 microbeads.  This year, many retailers and health/beauty manufacturers have pledged to phase out the use of microbeads in their products within the next four years.  Why this sudden change, you ask?
Increased concern about pollution is what sparked many states, including New Jersey, New York, and Illinois to propose acts to make microbeads illegal within the next few years.  In fact, earlier this month Illinois became the first state to pass the ordinance against the use.  Illinois' biggest concern was the plastic pollution in the Great Lakes. Microbeads cause significant problems as their small size makes them unable to be filtered out by water treatment plants.   Microbeads have even been found in the digestive tracks of fish that humans eat.

Microbeads became popular in beauty products because they are smoother than natural exfoliates.  Despite this, the Illinois government did not have the conflict with cosmetic companies that they expected.  Colgate, Johnson and Johnson and L'Oreal are just a few of the companies that have already agreed to phase out the use of plastic microbeads in their products by 2015.  Even retailers like Boots are committed to removing such products from their shelves.

So how will we survive? I know, just off the top of my head, I can think of at least three products in my bathroom right now that contain microbeads.  It seems like every other product on shelf contains them, so that just means its time to get back to basics.  L'Oreal is already considering alternatives to microbeads such as apricot pits and sea salt.   Who knows, maybe this change will be better for everyone. Perhaps natural exfoilents will be more beneficial for skin in the long run anyway.

For now, your favorite exfoliating facial scrub (Clean & Clear anyone?) is still on the shelf, but if all goes as planned, a nation-wide ban will take effect in 2018.

Sources: CBC News, 5gyres


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