Everything You Should Know About Microbeads
On December 28th, 2015, President Obama signed the "Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015," having the plastic microbeads found in health and beauty products to be fully banned from the United States in 2017.
This new law will change the beauty industry for the better and will force companies to revamp their products in order to completely phase out plastic microbeads. This is not only beneficial the environment and waterways, but also to everyone else in the long run!
What are Microbeads?
Microbeads are extremely tiny particles made of mostly intentionally-added plastic and are often found in personal and skincare products that serve as exfoliants. Microbeads usually consist of polyethylene, which can be found in plastic bags, bottles, etc. as well. This means they are not easily broken down nor dissolved.
Why Are Plastic Microbeads a Problem?
While they are gentle and effective for the skin, microbeads are extremely problematic to the environment. Since they are mainly found in products such as toothpaste, shower gels, and other products that are washed down the drain, they quickly and easily make their way into the ocean. Microbeads are designed to last for years without breaking down. And because they are so tiny, it's nearly impossible to remove them from the ocean once they are there.
They are then mistakenly consumed as food by fish and plankton, which build up in their digestive system and cause blockages. The larger sea creatures then consume them, and the plastic works its way up the food chain and continues to negatively impact the environment (we eventually can eat them through seafood consumption!). According to a study done in 2015, 808 billion beads are washed down drains daily.