It appears some exfoliant body washes and soaps (still) contain plastic microbeads.
I missed reading about this issue the first time it made headlines this year, but the continuing presence of tiny plastic beads in some personal care products has recently been mentioned in connection with The Great Lakes, where it’s feared they may be wreaking havoc in local aquatic ecosystems.
It’s amazing with what we know about plastic pollution that these products still exist – they should have been banned when the problem was first documented (and that was years ago as it turns out).
The microbeads are too small to be filtered by waste water treatment facilities, so they just wind up in our waterways.
There are a couple of concerns – that aquatic creatures are ingesting them; which can cause digestive issues. When enough plastics are consumed, starvation can occur. Large creatures don’t necessarily ingest the plastic particles directly; rather the smaller organisms do, then the larger ones feed on those creatures.
Plastics can also act as toxin magnets; so the ingestion of the particles can be a double whammy.
Our oceans and waterways have far too much plastic pollution as it is without to have to deal with a product that when used as intended is designed to pollute aquatic ecosystems.
Earlier this year, Unilever committed to phasing out the use of plastic microbeads in their exfoliating personal care products by 2015; but it seems others are yet to announce similar action.
If you use exfoliating soaps or body scrubs and are concerned about our oceans and waterways; check to see if the products you use contain this nasty payload. There are more environmentally friendly alternatives available that use materials such as oatmeal or finely ground walnut shells.