Activate your inner Activist: Microbeads…


I invite you when you next venture into a Boots: go and look at the scrubs of most of the beauty houses and look at the list of ingredients you will find:

Polyethylene = Plain plastic

Yes the same plastic bag you now get charged for at the check out – halleluja! Also the most basic building block of the whole plastic family.

Microbeads… yes. You can but only laugh or cry about this… the craze idea of first scrubbing your face with plastic particles… then flushing these down the drain.

Here is a fantastic video created by the Story of Stuff explaining the microbead:

Where do all these things go?? Mixing with other poisons it ends up in fish, molluscs, ending ultimately in the stomachs of larger fish and birds and our own stomachs? The scary question is indeed where does the plastic disappear to. Research is just beginning to look at the effect of the poisonous chemicals released through the break down of plastics and the effect this has on our health. 

What really gets me is the short sightedness in the lack of consideration of the end life of products, the lack of clear information, or misleading marketing jargon on packaging about the products and the lack of directed legislation to enforce these processes.

Lots of work needed to be done for circular cradle to cradle design processes to be adopted. Brands to take full responsibility for their product from conception, through design to final consumer use  – including disposal. At the moment these are all voluntary, and is limited by time and cost constraints allowing for proper research and processes. A revolution in design is necessary, but at the moment it comes down to ethics in the industry… especially in question after the findings in a recent article in the Sustainable Business Guardian about business leaders who are still in denial about climate change.

This is the response from the government regards to the petition to put more pressure on the industry to phase out the use of microbeads.

Basically they are putting an action plan together to work with industry on the voluntary removal of the plastic in facial products and they are doing more research.

This is already banned in the US which will come into action beginning of 2017. So should they need to do their own research, if this is already proven to be hazardous elsewhere? Looks like the industry is looking to buy more time… 

To conclude I would like to say a few things about our power as consumers: 

  • We need to familiarise ourselves more with plastic as a material, to understand its advantages and   where it is really useful – but also know when to refuse it – when it is for single use and absolutely detrimental to the environment ie. mixed polyethylene aka the single use take away fork.
  • Join in petitions to put pressure on industry, yes you are just signing something, but these do work. 
  • Refuse products and services which we do not agree with, and be vocal about it. Go on.. talk to the shop manager or drop an email or a tweet. If it is about ethics.. it is going to take individuals to feel this stuff with us – who will ultimately be closer to decision makers to facilitate change.
  • If you complain about a product, and take your business elsewhere, it is putting financial pressure on businesses to change their ways. 
  • I like the “Activist Revolution for 2016” idea. Find your passion and start making noise about it. Climate change does indeed provide an opportunity for us all to be great. To make a difference. It is a fantastic opportunity to step out of the status quo, question and redesign things. There is such a joy in not having to do something – but wanting to do it.
  • Why wait? Be part of the solution!
  • Note: Good products out there are: St Ives product containing 100% natural exfoliators, also take a look at making your own in this extensive list of products on DIYNatural blog.
  • Of course if you would like to be guaranteed of an ethical and natural product, Lush is just simply fantastic. A wonderful example of a company that just does everything splendidly, such an example to other industry leaders.
Tweet about products to the industry...

Tweet about products to the industry…

See more work done on this subject by:

5 Gyres

City to Sea

Being PALL – Plastic A Lot Less

Green Livvy

Story of Stuff Project

Plastic Oceans

Plastic Oceans Project