You probably don't think about the ocean each time your exfoliate. Your scrubs might be great for your skin but it could also be polluting the ocean and marine life. Microbeads are rife in everything from face wash, toothpaste, scrubs and soaps. Companies use microbeads as exfoliants and fillers in personal care products because these tiny plastic spheres are cheaper than natural alternatives.
The tiny beads which get flushed down the drain are too small to be filtered by most water treatment plants and end up in rivers, lakes and oceans; impacting marine life and the ecosystem. An estimated 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean every year.
Plastic microbeads also collect toxins as they make their way from drains into the waterways. The toxic beads spread increase water pollution and are sadly mistaken for food by aquatic organisms.
They create blockages in their digestive systems and gives a sense of being full but without any real nourishment. Some marine organisms also retain plastic in their systems after ingestion and this transfers to humans, birds and other animals up the food chain. A study done by Plymouth University in the English Channel showed that 36.5% out of 504 across 10 species of fish examined, showed the occurrence of plastics in their digestive systems.
Big brands are not doing enough to remove micro plastics from their products according to a ranking of the world's 30 largest personal care companies published by Greenpeace East Asia.
The ranking reveals that among the worst offenders are Amway, Estee Lauder and Revlon. Companies like Proctor and Gamble and Colgate Palmolive fared better but are still 'not living up to the collective responsibility that comes with being world leading brands.' Get the Greenpeace scorecard here.
Fortunately there are natural exfoliants that are a great and safe alternative to plastic microbeads. They do wonders for your skin without harming the environment.
Shop natural and organic body and face scrubs by Saltie Soul, People for Plants and Blossom skincare here.