Warning! Micro Beads Inside

Julissa Villalobos , Photo Editor

Your face wash or toothpaste may be harming the environment in ways you could have never imagined. Scientists and environmentalists around the world came to this realization in 2013 and are taking steps to ban the use of microplastics in personal care products.


Microplastics are tiny plastic particles that are being found in the environment and are generally between 1 and 5 mm. They can come from a variety of sources like face wash, toothpaste and soap.


These tiny pieces of plastic find their way into the ocean after being washed down the drain. They float from your drains through filtration systems and into the ocean to become coral and fish food. The tiny microbeads resemble zooplankton, sediment and other microscopic organisms, which poses as a great danger toward aquatic organisms. They are negatively affected as their stomach-cavities become full of indigestible plastic.


In .1 gram of a facial cleanser there are about 6,000 microbeads. So, three small tubes of the cream cleanser would contain about a million microbeads. Some of the tiny microplastics can be captured by waste treatment plants, but a high amount of them still get through to the oceans.


There are potentially millions upon millions of these microbeads just drifting across our great lakes or being consumed by fish and coral.


You should care about the fact that coral and fish are consuming microplastics because, chances are that most of the people reading this article eat fish. You enjoy fish Taco Tuesdays and Japanese sushi which all contain- fish. Microbeads soak up toxins like a sponge and scientists suggest that those chemicals could be passed on to the people consuming the fish. Tiny toxin filled plastic pieces do not need to be floating down your intestines. Second, coral cover less than one percent of the ocean floor, but support an estimated twenty-five percent of all marine life of over 4,000 species of fish alone. If the coral dies off, so will the fish and if fish die off our aquatic environments will be missing a crucial organism in the food chain that will, quite literally, destroy our oceans.


The plastic microbeads are not only polluting our oceans but they are also heavily polluting our Great Lakes, which contain more than 20 percent of the world’s fresh water. Californians know just how important fresh water is.


One hugely important way to help prevent the spread of microplastics in aquatic life is to not buy hygiene products containing polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) and nylon. A super easy way to detect the presence of these chemicals is to download an app called “Plastics!” This app was created by the Beat the Microbead Campaign. The app contains a barcode scanner that will tell you if your face wash is contaminated or not. A drop in demand of micro bead infested products will push companies to phase the products out.


Making the switch over to an organic face wash is healthier for your skin and environment. This movement only carries benefits for you and aquatic biomes everywhere. Join me and about 10,000 other people beat the Microbead.