Are we one step closer to safer products with the Microbead ban? Hopefully, but at least President Obama signing the ban against Microbeads is a step. You may be asking what are these Microbeads and what’s the big deal with this law? Let’s start with the law (boring for some and exciting for others) this is considered a bipartisan law, H.R.1321-114th Congress (2015-2016) and amends the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to prohibit the manufacture and introduction or delivery for introduction into interstate commerce of rinse-off cosmetics contacting intentionally added plastic microbeads. What?
The bill was enacted to protect the nation’s waterway by banning the plastic particles called microbeads commonly found in our products like body scrubs, body washes and even toothpaste. To be more specific, the bill defines Microbeads as:
“plastic-microbead-any solid plastic particle that is less than five millimeters in size and is intended to be used to exfoliate or cleanse the human body or any part thereof; and the term “rinse-off” cosmetic includes toothpaste.”
According to 5Gyres research, a single product can contain as many as 350,000 polyethylene or polypropylene microbeads – that’s crazy! These microbeads are tiny plastic beads that exfoliate and are meant to slough off excess skin cells to smooth skin, help wipe away oil and dirt from the skin and teeth. These microbeads are made to wash down drains but they are NOT biodegradable so they end up in our lakes, rivers and oceans.
So you can see why microbeads may pose a threat to the environment because they are made out of plastic which can’t dissolve. Specifically, the microbeads wash down drains into our waters harming the environment and the animals that live there and us. Microbeads can be ingested by animals/organisms that live in our waters because the shape and size of the microbeads resemble the food they eat. So one might say why not clean up the microbeads, not ban them, but they are so small in size clean up by water filtration is nearly impossible. Therefore, by July 1, 2017, companies will have to eliminate the use of microbeads in personal care, cleansing and exfoliating products. For a list of products that most likely contain microbeads see the list the International Campaign Against Microbeads in Cosmetics has compiled.
Until the microbead ban is effective, make sure to read labels and look to avoid products that contain polyethylene and polypropylene–polyethylene terphtahlate, polymethyl methacrylate, polylactic acid or nylon. Plus you can shop for alternatives that are already out on the market, companies that don’t use plastic microbeads in their products. These products use natural exfoliates like shells and natural waxes (coconut shell and jojoba), ground rice, salt, sugar, almonds and coffee beans.
This is great for our environment and hopefully a step we need to raise awareness that our laws or really lack of laws regulating the beauty industry need to be fixed. This law is movement in the right direction for making our products safer. Scientists showed through research that the microbeads are harming the environment and lawmakers were able to come together and decide to ban the microbeads. This is important, because one day hopefully all the research and lobbying by Groups and Companies like The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, The Breast Cancer Fund, Au Naturale Cosmetics Campaign Clean Beauty Lobby, and Beauty Counter will help get laws passed for safer products. We as consumers have the right to know ingredients that are in our products. One would think all of these products that are available on the market are safe, but that’s part of the issue.
Although, this legislation is a great step in the right direction for safer products, until we have stricter regulations we as consumers vote for products and companies with every purchase we make.
Green Passion Beauty
[Disclaimer: I’m not an expert, merely a passionate green beauty sharing my opinion and information gathered from researching Microbead ban. Also for more information about Microbeads go to 5Gyres.org ]