Microbeads: beauty and the deep blue sea

As huge amounts of plastic waste washed up on Hong Kong shores this summer, we got up close and personal with our relationship with the sea. Many of us are familiar with the viral images of turtles wrapped in 6-pack cases, whales with stomachs full of rubbish and the plastic food our fish our eating.

What is less obvious is the hidden hazard in our regular beauty regime.

Most customers would be horrified to discover the effect their facial scrubs are having on the marine environment.

Mary Creagh, British MP

Countries around the world are beginning to ban plastic microbeads and the HK government is requesting research before taking any action — sign this petition.

Companies first began adding plastic microbeads to face and body scrubs in the 70’s. Tiny (less than 1mm) in size, they pass through waste treatment facilities and end up in our ecosystems and contaminate species at the base of our food chain. This means all marine life is consuming plastic.

Last month, our friends at Plastic Free Seas enlightened us with this article about plastic microbeads.

These simple natural options replace microbeads:

  • Pure honey with baking soda added
  • Cotton facecloth with honey or water
  • Ground oatmeal mixed with pure honey
  • Use a loofah or terry cloth as a body scrub
  • Paste of sugar mixed with olive or grapeseed oil
  • Smooth paste of mashed papaya for 15-minute facial

NOTE: It’s best not to exfoliate more than once a month.

Today, even naturally branded companies like Neutrogena and Aveeno include plastic in the list of ingredients in their products.

Check the labels for polyethylene (PE), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), nylon, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polypropylene (PP).

Locally …

The question was asked in LegCo …

whether it will follow the practice of some countries in Europe and America by completely banning the import, sale and manufacture of products containing microbeads in Hong Kong

LegCo on 22 April 2015

What the brands are saying

More information

More : Clean Cosmetics | Marine Protection

Most customers would be horrified to discover the effect their facial scrubs are having on the marine environment.
Photo courtesy 5 Gyres

 

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