What's the problem?
Upon rinsing off our products, these tiny beads enter our water system. These beads can be smaller than a single millimeter in size. Most water treatment systems are unable to filter out these small beads, and they enter our natural water system. One of the highest concentration of microbeads was found in the Great Lakes. These beads pose an environmental threat as increasing numbers of them are expelled into the environment.
It's possible fish are eating the pellets, believing them to be eggs, he added. That's worrisome, because plastics tend to absorb pollutants such as PCBs, pesticides and motor oil. The pellets could therefore be poisoning the small fish that larger fish then prey on, and the larger fish are consumed by humans, posing a human health risk.
-CBC News, Facial scrubs polluting Great Lakes with plastic
What can you do?
While several companies such as Johnson & Johnson, L'Oreal, and the Body Shop have agreed to phase out microbeads in their products by 2015, there are other options in the meantime. Read the ingredient list on all your products and avoid those that contain microbeads.
There are many alternatives to products that contain microbeads. To get your exfoliation fix try a DIY treatment.
- Add a teaspoon of sugar, rolled oats, or ground almonds (you can do it yourself in a food processor) to your favourite body wash or to a few teaspoons of your favourite oil (olive, almond, coconut).
- Add a pinch of ground rolled oats, finely ground almonds, or brown sugar to a small amount of oil- jojoba, coconut and almond are especially good carriers for this treatment.
- Alternately, try exfoliating through the use of fruit enzymes. These are available commercially, or make your own by mashing up some strawberries or pineapple, applying them with a bit of honey as a treatment (let sit about 5 minuites and rinse well- rinse off if any burning or irritation occurs).
For more information on microbeads there are some great news stories and resources available to learn more.
(CBC News- Facial scrubs polluting Great Lakes with plastic)