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The Dangers of Microbeads

Microbeads are found in facial scrubs, body exfoliators, shower gels, some soaps and toothpastes. These tiny microbeads are made out of plastic and do not degrade, and they are so small they are not filtered through our water cleaning processes. Instead they make their way into seas and rivers. Plastics are made with oil, so they attract and absorb toxic chemicals in the water. The smaller they are, the greater the surface area to volume, and because they look like food, they are eaten by fish and end up in our food chain.

In May 2015, Richard Bloom from the Californian State Assembly said: “Toxic microbeads are accumulating in our rivers, lakes and oceans at alarmingly high levels.” And according to scientists estimate that 471 million plastic microbeads are washed into San Francisco Bay every day.

A recent ruling, signed in October 2015 does not allow even new types of “bio-degradable” plastic microbeads to be used in everyday products.

What are the alternatives?

Some manufacturers claim to use natural alternatives such as apricot shell or walnuts but environmental scientists point out that degrading these in open waters could use up oxygen that is required for the wildlife.

Forever use jojoba beads which are a biodegradable natural wax, and are less likely to harm the environment. Yes, these ingredients cost more and raise the product price but there’s an environment at stake here.

There are also enzymes such as bromelain or papain found in pineapple and papaya that are very effective skin exfoliators. You can mix these with oatmeal, coffee or rice to make a homemade organic solution.

Another option is to source home gadgets such as rotating mechanical brushes, sonic facial brushes and silicon massage heads, which you can use with your normal non-exfoliating cleanser and will have the same effect.

Ditching the body exfoliator altogether, you can instead turn to your trusty body brush to speed up circulation in the body and aid exfoliation, or use an exfoliating wash cloth such as a Japanese wash cloth.

As for toothpaste, some dentists have found plastic microbeads lodged in gums which can then cause inflammation and lead to infection. Try the Forever Bright Toothgel which uses Aloe and Bee Propolis, both natural anti-inflammatory ingredients that do not harm your gums or the environment.

If you already have a product with the microbeads, how do you get rid of it?

Put the lid on and throw it in the bin where it will go to landfill. I know this is not the ideal solution but at least it doesn’t end up in the water and right now, there is no better alternative. You could also send it to the head office of the manufacturer with a letter, hopefully they may get the message.

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related posts: Earth day


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