Eating plastic isn’t good for anyone but it’s likely you will have ingested your fair share thanks to the beauty industry’s love of using plastic microbeads in products such as body washes, body scrubs and facial exfoliators. The fish in our oceans certainly have! A recent study found that around 35 per cent of fish examined had microplastics in their stomachs.
Plastic microbeads were hailed as the next best thing when they began to be added personal care products more than 20 years ago with manufacturers claiming they were more gentle to use because they rolled on the skin, however, not only can plastic microbeads irritate the surface of the skin but they are now one of the biggest pollutants of our oceans as well as harming marine life and our food chain.
How? Because they are so small that they bypass wastewater filters, washing down bathroom sinks and straight into the ocean. These plastic particles are non-biodegradable and are not only adding to the growing volume of plastic in the world’s oceans, but inevitably also find their way into our fish population.
The seriousness of the problem has led several countries to begin the process of banning plastic microbeads. In January this year the New Zealand government announced that cosmetic products containing microbeads will be banned from July 2018. The USA and Canada have begun the process of banning microbeads and Australia has threatened a ban if companies do not voluntarily remove them from their products.
This means there are still a lot of products out there that contain the beads but thanks to a new app, Beat the bead (which you can download on your phone) you can scan products before you buy them to see if they contain the beads or not.
New Zealand natural skincare company Trilogy, which has never used microbeads, is one of the companies who comes up clean on the Beat the bead app. Trilogy’s Exfoliating Body Balm uses finely ground rosehip seed powder in lieu of microbeads, and its Gentle Facial Exfoliant contains natural biodegradable, non-abrasive jojoba wax microspheres.
Trilogy recently boosted publicity for the app on World Oceans Day on June 8 by taking part in the ‘Look for Zero’ initiative by Beat the Microbead. The ‘Look for Zero’ logo is used by brands and companies to make it clear to consumers that their products are 100 per cent free of microplastics.
For the month of June Trilogy is also presenting its products in limited edition packaging featuring ocean and Beat the bead app imagery as a call to action. It is a campaign that extends beyond World Oceans Day for Trilogy, who see this as an ongoing cause.
They have been joined by New Zealand pro surfer Paige Hareb to spread the eco-conscious message in making microbead-free beauty choices. “If everyone did their little bit to help it would make a massive difference,” says Hareb.
Australian pro surfer Laura Enever also joined Trilogy to spread this important message on World Ocean Day. Check out the video here at lauraenever.co
Scientists have estimated that an average bottle of face scrub contains as many as 100,000 plastic microbeads. About 100 personal care products in New Zealand have microbeads, and it’s estimated about 10,000 tonnes a year of plastic microbeads are used globally.
“The numbers are unimaginable on a global scale. Plastic microbeads are simply not necessary when there are effective natural alternatives available,” says Trilogy’s global in-house beauty expert Corinne Morley.
Other natural skincare brands that don’t use microbeads include Goodness, Linden Leaves, Weleda and Lush.
Find out more about Beat the Microbead campaign at beatthemicrobead.org