Your face scrub may be great for your skin, but the plastic beads found in many products are causing serious damage in our nation’s waterways. The tiny plastic pieces are small enough to slip through water treatment plants, and get directly deposited into rivers and lakes. Earlier this month, New York went as far as to begin the process to ban products containing the beads from consumer shelves.
Photos by 5 Gyres
Gritty beads are added to facial scrubs and soaps for their exfoliating properties. The plastic beads can easily be replaced by organic counterparts, but the plastic beading has proven largely more profitable. Environmentally friendly alternatives like crushed walnut shells and salt can achieve the same results on the skin, without harming water.
Plastic beads have been found contaminating the waters in the oceans, lakes and even smaller bodies of water. Jennifer Caddick of the Alliance for the Great Lakes has revealed that the microbeads are actually a much bigger thread than originally thought. Aside from polluting the water, the microbeads are posing a threat to the wildlife in these water bodies. Animals and fish are mistaking the beads for food, ingesting them and sometimes ultimately dying.
In reaction to state legislative interest throughout the country, many cosmetic companies are taking it upon themselves to remove microbeads from their repertoire, as well as community support pleas, like from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics that is urging Californians to pledge their support to the California Assembly.