Microbeads What are they and how do the effect you?

Have you washed your face with an exfoliating scrub today? Brushed your teeth with ‘whitening’ toothpaste, used a facial cleanser, makeup? or, had a shave with shaving gel? Chances are you have unknowingly smothered your body with plastic particles before washing them down the plug hole to pollute our oceans and contaminate marine life. We know you have done this unwittingly, and that’s a big part of the problem, you see so many leading brands contain plastic particles called microbeads and they can still be sold, legally, before the UK ban comes into force in 2018.

 So, why should you care about microbeads? There are around 12.7 billion tonnes of plastic waste being dumped into the world’s oceans every year - Everything from drinks bottles to plastic bags drinking straws, plastic cutlery, and packaging straps. These things end up in the stomachs of seabirds, whales, turtles and other marine life. Microbeads are particularly BAD – because they are so small they are unable to be filtered by our sewage systems so they enter the oceans in their billions - every day!

Plastic in the Ocean does not disappear by itself, so for every bit that ends up in the ocean, it means future generations will need to do more cleaning up of our mess! Not to mention that if you eat fish or any seafood, someone's used microbeads could be on your dinner plate tonight – oh, yum!

Yes, but the UK government has banned microbeads and put a 5p levy on plastic bags - hasn’t it? Yes, they did - but the ban on Microbeads will not come into force until 2018 - meanwhile, we are all still buying products that are killing our marine animals and destroying our oceans, and the plastic bag usage has dropped by around 80% - good, but not enough, yet. 

Save Me Trust wants to see more information and better education for the public. We believe that if people knew the true impact of they're ‘exfoliating scrub’ or the forgotten reusable bags (again!) whilst at the supermarket this week, we would very quickly change our habits and preferences.

So, we have put together a short list of things we believe you need to know, so let’s start with 

What are microbeads? Microbeads are microscopic pieces of plastic that are added to everyday cosmetic products such as face wash, toothpaste, abrasive cleaners, acne products and lots more. They are most frequently made of polyethylene but can be other petrochemical plastics such as polypropylene and polystyrene. Microbeads are small enough to go down your plughole and easily pass water filtration systems.

How do they affect the ocean? Microbeads are tiny and may appear harmless, but 100,000 plus microbeads are washed down the sink with a single application of some products, ending up in the Ocean where they destroy the marine ecosystems, killing marine animals and contaminate the food chain - including ours! New scientific research is continuing to find more and more examples of plastic inside all kinds of marine life. But it’s not just marine life, a recent study showed that 90 percent of seabirds have plastic in their stomachs too! 

 We know micro beads end up inside humans through toothpaste but the contamination risk of biomagnification is greatly increased through eating fish or seafood that has ingested microplastics and the toxins that come with them. We are not only destroying our Oceans and marine life but also ourselves!

How can I find out if products include microbeads and limit my use of them? Have a look at the Beat the Microbead website for products in the UK that definitely contain microbeads here

For products that contain microbeads and are still on sale in the UK here and for a list of products that contain NO MICRO BEADS here 

You can check your own favourite products at home or in store by using a free App available from Beat the Microbead website, or check the ingredient list for the following;

Polyethylene (PE), Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), Polypropylene (PP), Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) and Nylon.

Why not try products that use sustainable natural alternatives Here are some suggestions from Lush UK here