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Small Beads, Big Problem

Posted on 10th November 2015

Photo credit: http://umichenvchem2014.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/plastic-microbeads-are-contaminating.html


Microbeads, defined as tiny plastic particles used in abundance in most skin-care products, can now be redefined as tiny plastic particles that threaten the environment.

Teeny in size, microbeads are too small to be sifted out by water treatment facilities and consequently are flushed out to sea.

Made up of different plastics these non-biodegradable orbs increasingly contribute to the ever-expanding plastic soup, otherwise known as the ocean. Once in the water, aquatic life mistake the miniscule spheres for food, ingesting the toxic micro-plastics, which inevitably means we eat both the fish and the poisonous, plastic pellets. Specifically 35% of 670 marine species were found to have microbeads in their stomachs; this is a small representation of the damage microbeads are having on the environment.

What’s more, microbeads release toxic chemicals. They are comprised of harmful pollutants, contaminating surrounding flora, further aggravating the issue of endangered species.

Furthermore, companies produce microbeads with a smooth surface, meaning their exfoliator role is a façade: effectively rolling over your skin without fulfilling the promised function.

An industrial sized problem, there is a minute solution: boycott the bead.

Without you, the cosmetics industry cannot sustain the use of microbeads; so some cost-effective (essential in the student life) replacements: sugar, coffee grounds, rice, apricot seeds, walnuts shells, crushed pecan shells, coconut husk, oatmeal, bicarbonate of soda and lemon, sea salt and almonds. With a little water, these are some great-smelling alternatives.

Let’s scrub out blackheads and microbeads.

Georgina Morris-Davies
(Studying A Level Biology, English Language and Spanish)