Toothpaste, facial scrub, bubble bath, shaving foam and household cleaners are all examples of some of the products that contain microbeads, one of the highest contributors to plastic that is polluting our seas.
What are Microbeads and why is everyone talking about them?
Microbeads are very small pieces of plastic, some visible to the human eye and some not, that are added to many everyday toiletries and household products. These pieces of plastic find their way down our drains when we use them and into our seas, passing through filtration devices because of their minuteness.
There are over 680 tonnes of microbeads used in the UK alone every year. It is believed that some fish are mistaking the microbeads for food and when eaten they can cause many problems including stunted growth as they are not digestible. This means that they can also end up in our food chain, however there is no evidence to suggest that they pose harm to humans.
What is being done about the microbeads?
Following a petition that saw more than 370,000 signatures, the tiny pieces of plastic are now set to be banned from being used in the sale of goods within the UK by the end of 2017. This means that brands that currently make products with microbeads in them will need to find a harmless alternative, of which there are many biodegradable options including: nut shells and salt.
What can we do to help before the ban takes place?
We can look to find products that do not contain microbeads an example of ingredients to avoid are: Polyethylene (PE), Polypropylene (PP), Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), Polymethyl Methacrylate (PMMA), Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and nylon.
Why not take a look at the following link for a list of products sold within the UK that are not made with plastic, you’ll be surprised what you’ll find on there!
Beatthemicrobead.org also offer a smartphone app that allows you to scan products on the go to see if it is made with microbeads, very helpful