In January this year, the New Zealand government made an announcement to ban plastic microbeads in cosmetic products. The ban takes effect from July 2018. Plastic microbeads cannot be recycled and there is evidence to show that they pollute waterways and harm marine life. The United States and Canada have also begun the process of banning plastic microbeads, while Australia has threatened to if cosmetic companies do not voluntarily remove them from their products.
Microbeads are tiny plastic beads made from polyethylene (or polypropylene) found in a variety of skincare products. The most obvious and well-known products containing microbeads are exfoliants and facial scrubs. However, they are also found in masks, cleansers, soap and even toothpaste. The size of microbeads mean that water treatment facilities have no way of filtering them out. Their plastic/chemical composition also mean they are not biodegradable.
Luckily, there are many companies out there who, even before the threat of the ban, were environmentally conscious. Many companies, like Savar Skincare, opt to use alternatives, such as bamboo beads to plastic microbeads. As a consumer, you can make the switch and opt for products containing natural alternatives to microbeads, such as ground nut shells, apricot kernels and bamboo.
I personally prefer an exfoliant instead of a cleanser, so the information on microbeads was particularly useful for me. Once I became aware of and understood the issue, I immediately looked at the Savar Natural Refining Revitalising Facial Exfoliator I was using and was relieved to see they used bamboo beads. One of the benefits of investing in a natural, plant-based product.
July is Plastic Free July, if overhauling your lifestyle to completely rid it of single use plastic is too much, you might like to consider looking through your skincare products to see what they contain and making the switch to products with natural microbeads. I’d also just like to commend companies who strive to be environmentally aware and responsible. And who do so before bans and fines come into effect.