Have you heard of the Microbead-Free Water Act? Neither had I. Microbead toxicity is something that recently came to my attention. Up until recently I was totally ignorant of the damage that these seemingly ubiquitous scrubbers were doing to our environment, right under our noses (pun intended). They're cheap and effective, which is why they are frequently used in products, but according to New York State officials these tiny scrubbers are polluting the Great Lakes. The Microbead--labeled Polyethylene or Polypropylene-- is designed to wash down our drains, even though they are not biodegradeable material. Once in our waterways the particles can absorb toxins are consumed my animals, which are then caught and consumed by humans, thereby passing the toxicity on to the end user (i.e. Us). According to the Associated Press, a single bottle of face scrub can contain as many as 350,000 microbeads.
New York worked to become the first state to introduce legislation that would in effect ban the Microbead, now many states are joining. New York, Ohio, California, Ilinios, Minnesota, and Michigan are considering bans on the ingrediant. Although this is a move in the right direction, many states legislators aren't even aware of the issue. Thankfully some leading manufacturers like Johnson & Johnson, Unilever, and Procter and Gamble have already made plans to stop the use of Microbeads.
What can we do?
We only have one Earth. Let's try to do everything we can to protect it.
I use sugar as my scrubbing agent. I never felt like the microbeads did a good job of exfoliating. I'm happy to know that companies are slowly getting on board with helping not to pollute water any more than it already is.
It's great to know that industry giants such as Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, and Unilever are among the multinationals who have made plans to stop the use of microbeads anywhere from 2013-2017 - and their choice to do the right thing will have powerful influence throughout supply chains globally. As there are only 4 months left to ship-out goods that make it onto shelves in 2014, their decisions to be microbead-free by 2017sounds like they've turned around their sourcing & manufacturing processes quickly, and it is great news to hear this about these big brands.