Microbeads are made of polyethylene, polypropylene or polystyrene. These are plastic compounds that are added in many products but show up most in personal care. Shampoos, face washes, scrubs, body washes and even toothpaste, they all contain these microbeads. The reason? Simple, it is cheap. Microbeads are added as exfoliants in the products because natural exfoliants are slightly expensive. What’s more interesting is that there are no studies that suggest plastic exfoliants even work. In fact, if companies use natural exfoliants, we won’t feel the need to use the products as often as we would with the plastic ones. That’s because, natural exfoliants work really well. Whereas, microbeads, are smooth enough to make us wanna use them every day.
But the biggest problem with microbeads is not that they’re ineffective but that they simply go down our drains. And because they are super small, most water treatment plants can’t capture them, releasing them in to open water bodies. Billions of these microbeads end up in our water bodies everyday. Further, these microbeads attract the toxins around them making them even more toxic. Worse, they come back to us through the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe.
What can we do to fix it? Read the label. Small acts like reading the label can tell us what’s in the product. Look for polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate or polymethyl methacrylate. Avoid buying products that use these plastic compounds.
It’s a small switch in our consumption habit that may lead to us saving our big blue-green planet.
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