Plastic Cleanser

Plastic Cleanser

By:  Tony White The first blog I wrote after I started at IDO was titled Plastic Water.  It was a blog about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and the plastic swirling around our oceans. On a recent commute home I heard an NPR story about a new plastics threat to our water. Facial cleanser is polluting our waterways.  What? Cleansers are polluting our waters. Technically speaking it is the plastic micro-beads in these facial cleansers that are doing the polluting. I don’t know what I thought those magic exfoliating gems in the cleansers were.  Plastic beads would NOT have been on my short list of guesses though. Scientists sampling the waters of The Great Lakes found as many as 466,000 beads per sq/km with an average of 43,000 per sq/km throughout the lakes.  This accounted for about 90% of all the plastics trash found in this Great Lakes study.1 These micro-beads which are designed to help exfoliate our skin are also designed to be washed down the drain. Wait what? A product has been designed where .1gram contains 6,000 micro-beads of plastic and is meant to be washed down the drain with zero recovery plan in place? Yes, they’re small, but that is the problem. Our waste-water treatment plants are generally not able to capture them in the treatment process.  The micro-beads are washed into our waterways. Just like their larger counterparts I reported on in my first blog, these micro-beads also attract persistent toxic substances (i.e PCBs). Eventually, and just like their larger counterparts, they make their way into the food chain. There are states and municipalities considering legislation to ban micro-beads. Additionally Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, L’Oreal, & Colgate-Palmolive, and The Body Shop have agreed to phase out use of the micro-beads in their products. Make sure you check your products to ensure they don’t contain these micro-beads.  You’ll want to look for words like polyethylene or polypropylene in the ingredients list. OR there’s an app for that.  Beat the Micro-Bead App allows you to scan products to see if they contain micro-beads or not. As a final note there are natural alternatives that can be used in place of the micro-beads.  Apricot shells and cocoa beans are just a couple alternatives. What home remedies do you have for facial scrubs? Check out the following links for more information: http://5gyres.org/ http://5gyres.org/how_to_get_involved/campaigns/ http://tinyurl.com/kr7tqye http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/30/great-lakes-microbeads_n_4178363.html http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/12/12/250438904/how-plastic-in-the-ocean-is-contaminating-your-seafood http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOOUZ4GSpJY http://vimeo.com/49330970   1 5Gyres: First Survey of Micro-Plastic Pollution in the Great Lakes  

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