Many toiletries contain tiny beads of plastic less than a millimeter thick called microbeads. These function as cleansers and exfoliates, and companies use then in countless products, even toothpaste. Unfortunately, these microbeads go down the drain and can pass through sewage treatment plants unfiltered, making their way to lakes, rivers, and oceans. Although the beads themselves are non-toxic, they can bind to DDT and other toxic substances, and when marine life ingests these microparticles, the whole food chain is compromised.
Fortunately, the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 in the United States is phasing out microbeads in rinse-off cosmetics by July 2017. The cosmetics industry is figuring out how to replace microbeads in favor of biodegradable materials that decompose or get filtered out before reaching the watershed, such as ground almonds, apricot pits, sea salt, oatmeal, and coconut husks.
Until microbeads are banned for good, read product labels and avoid items that contain polyethylene, PE, polystyrene, or PS. If you already have such items, you can tighten the lids and dispose of them with the rest of your garbage that goes to landfill. The main thing is not to flush or wash these products down the drain. Since many cosmetic tubes and bottles aren’t recyclable or are difficult to recycle, using those with microbeads doubles the negative impact to our environment.
To make your own beauty products that are natural, inexpensive, and safe for you and the environment, check out the Nature’s Body workshop at Rodgers Ranch Heritage Center on August 9, 6:30 – 8:30pm. Denise Koroslev will teach you how easy it is to make your own lotions, lip balms, floral facial steams, and cleansers. Make it a spa night out with a girlfriend, mother, or daughter! To register, go to www.sustainablecoco.org/workshops.