(Originally published Jan 2018) These little microbead suckers are creating havoc in our oceans and waterways and are right up there with plastic bags as wildlife serial killers. Somewhat ridiculously they often serve no other purpose than decoration, but they are often used as an abrasive. Country after country around the world are banning them, with New Zealand being the latest, close to home here in Australia.
For the more scientifically correct readers, there are actually more than 60 different microplastics in use. Look out also for Polyethylene (PE), Polypropylene (PP), Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) and Nylon (PA).
The problem with microbeads is that cosmetic & hygiene product companies have been adding them to products for decades. Because they are so small and hardy, they pass through water treatment systems out into waterways and end up in the food chain. It is unlikely that there is an adult creature on earth that does not have a microbead in their gastrointestinal tract. The problem compounds of course when you realise that not only are there billions upon billions of microbeads in our food chain, but because plastic does not break down, their continued use is compounding the problem.
All this means that you are actually eating microplastics and in some cases, potentially even in food you grow yourself. While microplastics have been detected in commercial products like fish, salt & beer, they have also been found in milk and honey (where plastic has been deposited in pollen).
Microbeads are most commonly put into body & face scrubs, exfoliates & washes, sunscreens, deodorants, lipsticks, nail polish as well as some toothpastes. Sometimes their existence is acknowledged on product packaging, but often it is not.There is an excellent list of products containing microbeads on Beat the Microbead and they also have a great (free) App which allows you to scan your products for microplastic ingredients.Ban the Micorbead rate common products red, orange and green for microbead content and also give you a list of products that do not contain microbeads. According to ABC News sources, these companies have committed to phasing out microbeads. You will still see some of them on the Beat the Microbead site. Unilever | L'Oreal | Beiersdorf (Nivea products) | Reckitt Benckiser (Clearasil products) | Johnson and Johnson | The Body Shop | Ella Bache | Clarins
Like it or not, many of us shop in supermarkets. The supermarket chains could be more active in who they do and don't accept on their shelves, but most have taken what I think is a commercially clever alternate route and either banned microbeads or undertaken to phase them out of their own home brand products. (That would be Aldi, IGA, Coles & Woolworths). Vote with your wallet and don't buy anything with a microbead inside its plastic coated gut.
I notice that Beat the Micro has a Zero Plastic logo that products can stick on their packaging if they have no microplastic. And there is a list of companies too on this page http://www.beatthemicrobead.org/look-for-the-zero/. I am just not sure how many are Aussie.
Monday, 14 August 2017
Anything that contains polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) or nylon.There are a couple of websites and an App that are reasonably up to date if you want to look for specific products.
Sunday, 13 August 2017
How do you know what products to avoid and not?
Friday, 11 August 2017