I don’t know if you all heard or remember the big environmental concern that was raised this summer, but corporate giants like Neutrogena, Unilever, L’Oréal, and Clean & Clear came under fire for the massive environmental harm their exfoliating products with plastic microbeads have been causing, particularly in the Great Lakes. A study by Sherri Mason from the State University of New York, Fredonia, found 17,000 “bits of tiny plastic items” per square kilometer in Lake Michigan. Lake Ontario, the worst off, was found to have about 1.1 million plastic particles per square kilometer. To recap, microbeads are terrible for the environment because they are so small (0.0004 to 1.24 millimeters in diameter) that they are often not filtered out in water treatment facilities. Once they make it to the lakes, they cover the bottom and “choke out plant life.” Their shape and size also resembles fish eggs, a food source to many marine creatures; the plastic is indigestable and ends up filling up their stomachs, causing them to literally starve to death. These fish are consumed by bigger fish, and toxins like motor oil and pesticides which are absorbed by the beads make their way into those fishes’ bloodstreams. Think about it: even if you don’t care about marine life, do you want to be eating pollutants like those? The damage already caused by these microbeads is irreversible, because, due to their small size, it would be impossible to remove them without also further disrupting the marine ecosystem and removing other things like zooplankton that are the same size. Fortunately, most big skin care companies, like those mentioned above, have agreed to end their use of the plastic microbeads through a gradual phase-out processes with deadlines as soon as 2015.
On a happier note, what can you do now other than resist the buy one get one free sales for products with microbeads? I know they feel really good when you’re using them and they do a great job exfoliating, but there are equally good alternatives out there. Next time, try Burt’s Bees or other companies that use things like apricot shells or cocoa beans as exfoliants instead!
Other alternatives make for fun DIY projects! Fall is by far my favorite season, and, basic girl that I am, I ~love~ the Pumpkin Spice Latte, so I thought I’d share this seasonal sugar scrub recipe, courtesy of TheFrugalGirls.com!
What You’ll Need:
- 1/2 cup Coconut Oil
- 1 cup White Sugar
- 1/2 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
- 1/4 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
Pinterest abounds with recipes like these, and the base is usually just sugar or oats and olive/coconut/almond oil at a 2:1 ratio. Super easy to make, and they smell awesome too!!