Microbeads – From Your Face to Your Food

Photograph by Tom Newton

It is a popular (and hygienic) habit but washing your face with certain products may be causing more harm than good. Microbeads, beads that are so tiny we do not even know they are there, can be found in face wash, toothpaste, and sometimes even in our food. They are usually smaller than 1 mm, which is why most people may not know about them. Microbeads help with exfoliating, which is why it is a popular ingredient in face scrubs and toothpaste. When it first started to become commercialized the long-term consequences were not studied; the microbeads provided a cheap alternative to resources that were running out and that was that. Now we know that microbeads are almost impossible to remove from our environment and that they make up most of the plastic we find in the ocean.

There are multiple reasons why microbeads are now banned in the United States: the plastic is polluting fresh water and ocean water, which is leading aquatic animals to getting sick from eating the microbeads. Through fishing those aquatic animals, this can then lead to microbeads – 100% plastic – ending up in our food. It is not good for us and it is certainly not good for the animals swimming in the polluted water.

So what can we do to further ban microbeads? Talk about it. Talk to friends, family, write about it and share with everyone (just like this blog). The only place that has banned microbeads so far is the United States, and that is a very recent development. We can do more by watching the products we buy. If we watch what we buy, we can avoid supporting the companies that prefer dollars over life and health. We only get so many chances until decisions like microbeads start affecting more than animals.