In life, we've always taught that it's the little things that matter the most. A famous quote by American writer Kurt Vonnegut reads as follows:-
"Enjoy the little things in life for one day you'll look back and realise that they were the big things. "
In terms of plastic pollution and environmental impact, micro-beads are one of those deceptively small things that are, in reality, quite big. Now, this brings up a lot of questions. What even are micro-beads? Who uses them? Are they really that bad? Well, let's get to it!
The What and The Why
Micro-beads are a sort of micro-plastics. They're used specifically for scrubbing and exfoliating (think of all those face and body scrubs commonly available). If we get into specifics, these micro-plastics are smaller than 5mm (between one and five micrometres). Micro-beads also act as emulsifying agents or cheap fillers.
It's not just scrubs, today micro-plastics can be found in products such as lipstick, eyeliner, and sunscreen! In fact, today, there are more than 60 different types of microplastics being used in the cosmetic industry.
Why Microbeads are a Huge Problem
Micro-beads have a rather sizable contribution to make towards plastic pollution. They're even a great threat to marine life! But why? and how?
Imagine this: In the morning, you're getting ready for your day and decide to use a face scrub which has microbeads. The scrubbing action is greatly satisfying and you wash your face. Now, the problem begins. The microbeads (often undetectable to the human eye) go down the drain (literally) and straight into the sewer system. The wastewater treatment plants are not designed to filter the microbeads out; that is how microplastics contribute to the ‘Plastic Soup’ swirling around in our oceans. Once in our seas and oceans, these microbeads are consumed or absorbed by marine animals. They're then passed along the food chain and can even end up in our own food!
What's Being Done to Deal with Microbeads
Around the world, a lot of people are raising awareness and pushing for better alternatives to microbeads. In India, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) banned the use of microbeads in cosmetics in October 2017. This ban will be implemented this year, in 2020.
Like India, New Zealand, the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom are some of the many countries that have banned the use of microbeads. But there's still a long way to go.
Aside from banning microbeads, it's more important to sensitize brands and consumers to the catastrophic impacts of microbeads. With climate change and environmental devastation becoming an undeniable reality, even the smallest actions count towards making a big big difference.
Better and Natural Alternatives
There are much better and more effective alternatives to microbeads. Natural clays, baking soda, bamboo, organic oatmeal and sugar and ground fruit kernels are great alternatives.
At Myra Veda, we're completely against the use of microbeads! Our scrubs are made of walnut shells and non-nano jojoba beads. We believe in the power of organic and natural when it comes to personal care. Because it's the small things that are in fact the big things! So, the next time you choose to buy a scrub, make sure you make the correct and ethically green choice!