Or, rather, they’ve started to like our plastic too much! When it comes to microbeads, researchers in Sweden have been studying young Perch and discovered that they’re hooked on plastic as a source of food. The result is smaller and slower fish more easily caught by predators. Poor old Perch – they’re not exactly the cute Nemo of the sea but they’re by no means the only sea life affected by the estimated 8 million tonnes of plastic that’s expelled into oceans each year.
Beauty brands have known for some while that microbeads are awfully damaging, and yet some continue to use them in their products. From a list taken from http://beatthemicrobead.org/, updated in February 2016, one of the biggest beauty microbead offenders is Johnson & Johnson, but they’re not alone. I was slightly horrified to find that Clinique popped up. If you want to know what you’re looking for to make a choice to buy without microbeads, search the ingredient list for Polyethylene (PE).
With World Ocean Day (Wednesday 8th) round the corner, Neal’s Yard Remedies (HERE) are flagging up that they’re the UK’s first “Look For The Zero” certified beauty brand, meaning that none of their products contain any micro plastics at all, not just microbeads.
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According to a Guardian feature (HERE), most brands have a phase out plan to eliminate all microbeads and microplastics from their products – Johnson & Johnson have 2017 as their full phase out date and the only brand that neglected to respond to the Guardian’s questions on phase out was Coty. Bliss is owned by the same company as Elemis, yet are removing their microbeads entirely this year, while Elemis flags 2018 as their removal date. All of the Estee Lauder companies are in the process of eliminating them as we speak.
Nonetheless, we have all known about microbead-sea life damage for many years, so it seems that it’s a rather slow and reluctant move from the beauty industry. It’s really such a small thing – microbeads are mostly in any ‘scrub’ product so always double check on the listings – and brands should have been more ahead of the game on this. I did a check with Clinique to see when their phase out is scheduled for and it has fully taken place but do check older stock which I assume has yet to fully sell though.
If you’re wondering how to exfoliate without microbeads – all number of solutions to this one! Coffee, sugar, salt and enzymes for a start and Goldfadden MD Doctor’s Scrub uses ruby crystals so there are plenty of alternatives!
It’s very well worth checking the Guardian feature to see the Green Light list of companies who have never used or have completely phased out microbeads. I’m guessing the reason that brands have phase out dates instead of literally just stopping overnight is so that they can sell through the original bead containing stock, so if you want to avoid beads, you really will have to be vigilant in looking at labelling for the next couple of years a least.
Brands that have never used or have phased out microbeads should definitely let us know with the “Look For The Zero” label until that label isn’t needed any more, ever. It’s much easier for consumers to make the right choices with clear direction from brands.
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