Microbeads have been in the press again this week as an influential government committee has backed a global ban on the marine-damaging plastic particles, which are found in some cosmetic products.
Microbeads are tiny plastics with huge consequences. Once they enter marine ecosystems their minute size and sheer number make them impossible to remove. A new study has found that small fish may prefer eating microbeads over natural food sources such as plankton.
Not only are these fish favouring marine plastics over their natural diet, exposure to high concentrations of plastic particles is making them smaller, slower and more susceptible to predators.
While a blanket ban on microbeads in cosmetics may be some way off in the future, we can all play a small part in reducing plastic waste by choosing microbead-free products.
Not just scrubs and toothpastes
While you may be used to checking the labels of products such as toothpaste, scrubs and shower gels, microbeads have made their way into some rather unexpected places.
Products such as mascaras may contain microbeads to add a volumising effect to your lashes, while some sun lotions may also use microbeads. This means that even people making a conscious effort to avoid microbeads could be unwittingly using them, as many of us wouldn’t think to check a mascara or sun cream for tiny plastic beads!
An article in the Daily Mail has shone a light on brands using microbeads in their products and highlighted the plastic-free alternatives. Green People is one of the few recommended brands as all of our products are 100% microbead-free.
Green People has never used microbeads in any product and works closely with the Marine Conservation Society, donating 30p from the sale of every Scent Free Sun Lotion to help protect and preserve our marine habitats.
Facts about microbeads
- A single shower can result in 100,000 plastic particles entering the ocean
- Between 80,000 and 219,000 tonnes of microplastics enter the marine environment across Europe per year
- Greenpeace find pieces of plastic in every sample of seawater they study from round the world
- An average plate of oysters could contain up to 50 plastic particles
Update: January 2018
Since this post was published, a production ban on using microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products has come into force in the UK. The ban prevents manufacturers from using microbeads in their products with immediate effect, and stipulates that retailers will no longer be able to sell products containing microbeads as of July 2018. The ban comes after campaigners called for microplastics to be removed from all cosmetic and personal care products due to the harm they pose to marine life and the contamination risk they pose to global drinking water supplies.
Whilst campaigners celebrate a victory against microbeads their fight to protect the planet from pollutant plastics continues. Environmental Scientists are now turning their attention to glitter and calling for its use in cosmetics to reviewed. Often made from plastic, when glitter goes down the plug hole it can be consumed by marine life and end up in the human food chain. Far from adding a touch of sparkle to our suppers, the plastic used to make glitter is thought to release chemicals that can disrupt hormones in the bodies of animals and humans. Campaigners are calling for manufacturers that use glitter in their products to consider using safer, non-toxic biodegradable plastic instead.
For more information about microbeads please get in touch by emailing our friendly customer care team at firstname.lastname@example.org.