First things first, we are proud to say that Spud has NEVER carried microbeads in any of our products (check out our Health and Beauty aisle here!). But we are thrilled to see our government finally taking action to wipe out these sneaky pollutants everywhere.
Microbeads are tiny, yet they cause humungous problems for our environment and wildlife. Many of our personal care products and toiletries which contain these beads get washed down the drain after use, polluting our oceans and harming the critters who eat them.
But good news! As of July 1st, 2018, a Canadian ban on toiletry products including shower gels, toothpaste, and body scrubs containing microbeads will FINALLY come into effect.
This legal action has been a long time coming. Unrelenting efforts by scientists, environmentalists, and a stockpile of research has revealed the devastating impacts of microbeads on ecosystems for years. After studying the impacts of plastic microbeads on the environment in 2015, even Environment Canada declared microbeads as toxic, and we will be seeing the effects of this decision in coming years as the government works to eradicate these little plastic beads from all products on the market. Following the 2018 ban on microbeads in toiletries, Canada will implement the ban on microbeads found in natural health products and non-prescription drugs on July 1, 2019.
What are microbeads?
Microbeads are tiny little particles of plastic that are typically smaller than two millimetres. If you’re checking labels, microbeads often include polyethylene (PE) or polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polymethlyl methacrylate (PMMA) or nylon.
Which products contain microbeads?
You can find microbeads in face soaps, body washes, and toothpastes. They deliver that ‘gritty’ texture to cleansers that helps to exfoliate. Manufacturers are attached to microbeads because they’re incredibly cheap to buy, and very easy to source. This is why microbeads have been used for so long, even while environmentally friendly alternatives (like crushed walnut shells!) exist.
Unfortunately, microbeads are small enough to evade most water treatment systems. So instead of being filtered out, they end up in waterways everywhere.
How does microbead pollution affect us?
Although it’s easy to see something get washed down the drain and forget about it, plastic is never truly gone. And what’s really crazy is that microbeads could wind up back on your plate.
When fish eat the micro-plastic particles, the toxins in those plastics leak into the fish tissue. Similar to mercury, when plastic ends up in the ocean, it often gets eaten by fish and sea mammals, increasing in concentration as it makes its way up the food chain.
Besides getting into our food, millions of microbeads in the oceans means billions of toxins leaching into the water, killing plant life and disrupting the ecosystem.
How can I celebrate the end of microbeads?
How about by whipping up a batch microbead free pampering products, like these DIY natural face masks? These are all great for you skin, fun to make, and won’t contribute to the looming plastic problem in our oceans.
We’re glad to see this new legislation reflecting our values as Canadians with a priority in preserving and protecting our environment. Though there are many different areas that still demand attention, this was a definite win for our oceans. We’re hopeful that we’ll continue to see these kinds of protective changes taking place as we move forward!