Micro beads are tiny plastic particles that have been added to thousands of beauty products around the world. Their intention is to act as 'scrubbers' in the product for either your skin or teeth. The problem, however, is that sewerage systems can't filter these minuscule particles out and they get washed out to sea. As they are so small they cannot be gathered up and they float around the seas, oceans and even lakes. From there they are ingested by marine life who then end up on our dinner plates. So, yea... It's a big problem.
In a study carried out by Plymouth University in England they looked at looked at the occurrence of plastic in 10 species of fish caught in the English Channel. Of 504 fish examined, more than one-third were found to contain small pieces of plastic less than 1mm in size; micro beads. I don't know about you but I prefer a nice almond butter with my fish over plastic.
Many companies have been adding micro beads to their face and body scrubs under the ingredient name of Polyethylene (PE) or Polymethal Methacrylate (PMMA) to name a few. (So if you see these names on the back of your body wash: avoid like the plague! Buy yourself a nice bar of soap instead. Or a cupcake. No harm ever came of a cupcake.) The issues surrounding micro beads have only become apparent in recent years but luckily there is a growing movement called Beat the Micro Bead who have been working to eradicate micro beads in beauty and skin care products and have already gotten many companies on board with either discontinuing their use of them or promising to phase them out within the next few years.
|Click on the photo above to go to their website|
Not only do they have a fancy app for your phone that can scan the barcode of any product to tell you if it has micro beads, is phasing them out or has no micro beads, they also provide lists based on your country of residence giving product names that have micro beads in them so you can avoid them.
--> Ireland's list <--
The results have been promising so far with many companies acknowledging the issue and removing micro beads or promising to when they find other, less damaging ingredients to do the same job. In the mean time though we should all do what we can to avoid buying products that still use them and find other less harmful alternatives.