What are micro-plastics?
Micro-plastics are small plastic particles that are less than 5mm in size. These tiny particles may seem harmless, but they can actually have a negative impact on both the environment and human health.
Indeed, they are contained in many everyday bathroom essentials. When these products are washed down the drain, the micro-plastics can end up in rivers, oceans, and other bodies of water, where they can harm marine life and other animals. They are not biodegradable and can persist in the environment for hundreds of years.
The micro-plastics are especially dangerous for marine animals, as they can accidentally ingest the tiny particles. Once eaten, the beads block their digestive track and lead animals to starvation.
Plastic found inside a fish’s stomach
Moreover, once ingested by marine life, they then end up in the food chain and are consumed by humans. There is concern that microplastics may accumulate in human tissue and cause health problems.
What products are at risk of containing micro-plastics?
- Exfoliating scrubs
- Facial cleansers
- Body wash and shower gel
- Some makeup products, like eyeshadows with glitter, bronzers and blushes
What is being done to help?
There has been a growing awareness of the negative impact of micro-plastics in cosmetics and skincare products. Many companies are now eliminating microplastics from their products and using natural or biodegradable exfoliants instead. Some countries, such as the UK, have even banned the use of microbeads in cosmetic and personal care products.
Consumers can also do their part by choosing products that are free of microplastics. Reading the ingredient label and looking for products that contain natural exfoliants such as sugar, salt, or ground nuts can be a good start.
All natural exfoliants
To avoid micro-plastics, you can start by avoiding the following ingredients: Polyethylene (PE), Polypropylene (PP), Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), and Nylon (PA).
Consumers can also download the app Beat the Microbead which helps find sustainable products and tells customers if their current beauty routine contains micro-beads.
It’s important to remember that our choices as consumers can have a big impact on the environment, and by choosing products that are free of microplastics, we can help to protect the planet for future generations.