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Microbeads. That’s an innocuous sounding word isn’t it? It sounds so small, so insignificant, so… micro.
But it’s really not. It’s a big (and growing) global problem. The microbead is now in thousands of personal care products, from facial creams to nail polishes, detergents, toothpastes, cosmetics and soaps, and it’s contributing to our already massively polluted oceans. There’s not much you can personally do to help with ocean temperatures, over-fishing and bottom-trawling (apart from being an educated and conscious consumer and supporting ethical brands), but with microbeads you definitely can. Let me explain more.
Microbeads are tiny bits of plastic that are turning up more and more in everyday household toiletries, as they are used as an exfoliant. The problem is, along with the tantalizing tingle and zing they bring to your morning shower routine, they are also too small to be filtered out of the waterways by wastewater treatment plants. Thus they end up being ingested by sea creatures, since they mistake the tiny beads for food. Because humans are using microbeads in ever-increasing quantities, so too are they being ingested INTO the food chain in ever increasing quantities.
It’s bad news for animals (for obvious reasons – how would you feel after eating a few kilos of indigestible tiny plastic beads?) but also for us, as the fish that eat the plastic are then being eaten by us. And if you ever worried about water left in a plastic bottle in a hot car and what that does to your endocrine system, it’s a lot more damaging to be eating plastic-filled fish. Just to give you an idea of the scale of the problem, in New York ALONE, 19 tons of plastic waste was found in their waterways in 2011. What’s most damaging is that the microbeads are there permanently, since they don’t break down.
The problem is that microbeads are cheap. Much cheaper than natural exfoliants, which is why the big brands use microbeads. AT EVOHE you can be sure there isn’t a microbead in sight! Our Face and Body Exfoliant contains raw cacao, lotus seed, Rhyolite (extremely polished volcanic sand), wattle seeds and soft loofah seeds to naturally exfoliate in an environmentally friendly, completely biodegradable way. Exfoliants need to be suspended so EVOHE’s creator Meg decided to use all-natural loofah as a binding agent to give it a cream, gel-like texture. At EVOHE, we don’t think it’s OK to harm the environment in our quest for better skin. But having great skin and being environmentally friendly don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
Microbeads have become a bit of a hot topic in the press in the last few weeks, leading to statements from The Body Shop and Procter and Gamble that they will be looking to phase out their use of microbeads from their product lines by the end of the year for The Body Shop, and by the end of 2015 for P&G. Why wait until then? You can phase them out of your household now by educating yourself about the microbead and what you can do to get them out of our waterways, (and our bodies!) permanently.