In 2012, researchers from the University of Wisconsin and the State University of New York-Fredonia conducted a number of studies in local reservoirs. Initially, the project was implemented as a means to compose a current recording of water pollution in lakes Haron, Superior and Erie. Prior to investigation, scientists estimated that much of the pollution in these waterways could be caused from micro-plastics, degraded from larger pieces of materials. However, they were not prepared to find thousands of perfectly spherical plastic beads. In fact, the presence of these beads was overwhelming, averaging 450,000 per square kilometer. Perplexed by this extreme accumulation of small, round multicolored plastics, researchers took initiative to discover the source. After further investigations, the mystery was solved—hygiene products. The tiny plastic balls were microbeads, commonly found in mainstream cleansing solutions and exfoliating scrubs.
Polyethylene, (the most common plastic) is formulated into small microbeads as a common ingredient and/or filler in hygiene merchandise. For over five decades, trusted companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Proctor & Gamble have been implementing these tiny beads into their shampoos, soaps, tooth pastes, deodorants and facial cleansers. The beads are used as substitutes for more expensive natural solutions such as salts, walnut husks and apricot pits. It is estimated that American’s buy cosmetics containing over 537,000 pounds of microbeads each year. Formulated and designed to pass through our drains, by using said products, consumers are directly damaging their food sources. Sherri Mason, an environmental chemist at the State University of New York-Fredonia is ashamed of this manmade problem. The balls look exactly like fish eggs, and thus hundreds of marine organisms swallow the microbeads no longer hungry for healthier options such as plankton and algae.
Not only do microbeads contribute to climate change and the growing issue of pollution, they also administer to planned obsolescence. By creating materials that are known to be less efficient than natural ingredients, corporations are guaranteeing consumers will need to purchase more products and at a higher frequency. Not only do they need a facial wash, they also have to purchase a zit cream, exfoliating scrub, toner and a moisturizing cleanser. Moreover, for greatest results, larger portions are necessary, requiring monthly or even biweekly replacements of products. Essentially, microbeads are one of the many procedures corporations use to cut corners and maximize profits. Do you want to be a victim of this vicious cycle, which does nothing but drain your own pockets? I don’t think so. Join the campaign to ban microbeads and fight against planned obsolescence: http://www.beatthemicrobead.org/en/.
The following video is also worth of attention: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAiIGd_JqZc.