Mirobeads; the plastic terror

An article I originally wrote for one of my assignments, but I think it really fits on my blog too, as environmental issues are something I’d like to talk about more in the future. Including three original interviews, this article is definitely worth reading.

If you’re one of the people whose morning routine consists of brushing your teeth with Colgate Max White, you might want to re-think your choice of a product after reading this article.

Following countries such as the USA and Canada the UK government, under the support of Theresa May, has announced a ban on microplastics used in everyday products, stepping up again to show how this country cares for the planet’s environment.

The recent ban on microbeads is hoping to ensure less destruction to marine life and reduce pollution in seas and oceans.


Microbeads are nowadays a part of almost every household and yet some people might not even know about them. They are mostly found in toothpaste, body and face scrubs and exfoliating face washes, often serving only aesthetic purpose. You might like them for the soft feeling of your skin after you scrub it with one of your favourite body scrubs.

If you’re looking at one of your products right now and desperately searching for the word microbeads on it, save your time. Microbeads aren’t always named on the back of the product. Instead, they use the chemical names for plastics such as polyethylene, polypropylene and polymethylm ethacrylate, which microbeads are made from. If that doesn’t daunt you, we know what will.

“One shower can cause more than 100,000 microbeads go down the drain and to the ocean,” says India Thorgood, an activist from Greenpeace UK. This means, that millions of microplastics enter the ocean every day and because they are so small, marine life often mistakes them for food.

“We have found microbeads inside fish, oysters, sea-creatures and even seabirds,” says Thorgood. Correspondingly, many of them enter the food chain and can end up on our plate. How would you like to find out that the expensive shrimp cocktail you just ordered has tons of plastic in it? That’s what we thought…

maxresdefaultBut don’t lose hope just yet, your day of pampering can still be perfect without having to harm innocent animals.

Eco-friendly companies such as Lush, Body Shop and L’Occitane have been making microbeads-free products for a long time. If you haven’t heard about them, now is the time to take down some notes.

“All of our products are eco-friendly and have the same, if not better effect on the skin than the non-eco ones,” says Alberto Pelle, 24, a sales associate in Lush Oxford Street.

Lush has found a safe alternative to the microplastics used to exfoliate the skin. “Instead of microbeads we use sea salt, cane sugar, rice and ground almonds in our scrubs, which degrade quite easily, whereas plastic can take years,” says Pelle.


Not everyone can afford Lush’s pricey products whilst still wanting to stay eco – especially when 250 g of Lush’s Sea Salt scrub equals almost three cocktails during a happy hour. (And we know how important booze is, especially on a Monday night.) Lucky for us mere mortals, some companies such as Garnier with more affordable prices have arbitrarily given up microbeads and promised to replace them with natural materials.

The passing of the new ban, which will come into effect in September this year, means that companies will no longer be able to sell their products containing microbeads on the UK market.

MP Mary Creagh, chair of the environmental audit committee, campaigned for the microbeads to be removed from the UK market and is thrilled with the ban.

“I don’t think businesses are going to suffer in any way because they can still sell their products in other countries, where the ban has not yet been applied,” she says.

Plastic is still the cheapest and most easily obtainable material, and therefore it’s used all around the world as a substitute for natural materials.

Campaigners are hoping the ban might open the eyes of many people who have been blinded by the advertisements and fancy-looking products, and encourage them to care more for the environment.

“It’s time for companies to realize what impact their products have on the environment and start acting on it,” says Creagh, and we couldn’t agree more.


(none of the images are mine)

If you’d like to see more posts like this, let me know what environmental issues bother you, send me news, tips and articles so I can process them and spread the world!



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