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Are exfoliating scrubs hurting the planet?

Posted on September 10 2013

You may not suspect it, we sure didn't, but those exfoliating scrubs we so love may be ruining the planet! "How on earth can shiny smooth skin ruin the planet?" you may ask. Well, after reading Don’t Lather, Don’t Rinse, Don’t Repeat on you may just rethink they way you resurface.

Turns out many of those oh so scrubby micro beads aren't made of sand or shells like one may think. They are little plastic beads mere fractions of an inch across. Unlike many plastics that accidentally go down our drains and storm pipes, micro beads are designed to wash down the sink. 

Some of the samples they collected from Lakes Huron, Superior, and Erie indicated the presence of as many as 450,000 bits per square kilometer—twice as many as had ever been recorded.

Making them incredibly effective at messing up our ecosystem. While many people are familiar with the trouble caused by plastic soda can rings choking sea birds and other marine mammals, plastic microbeads have a more stealthy effect on sea life. How can these tiny beads be so dangerous? they look just like yummy fish eggs, which is a staple nutrient source for many sea creatures. "So what?, a fish eats a few plastic beads, don't they just poo them out?" Not really, after gorging on plastic beads sea animals may lose their appetite for real food thus slowly starving themselves of nutrients much like many people who eat the SAD (Standard American Diet.) Imagine, a sea full of animals snacking on Cheetos, watching Judge Judy all day... that is sort of whats going on, but replace Cheetos with plastic.

Why on earth do we use these microbeads and is it really a problem big enough to worry about?

Microbeads have been detected in more than 200 different consumer products; most fall under the category of facial cleansers, but the beads also make their way into soaps, sunscreens, even toothpaste. Manufacturers like them because they’re smoother than many natural exfoliants like salt, apricot pits, or walnut husks. And American consumers like them enough to buy cosmetics containing more than 573,000 pounds of them each year.

Wow, 573,000 pounds... that is equivalent to 38 FULL GROWN elephants, or 104 SUV's or 4,584 Myles Cyrus' THINK ABOUT THAT! While certain large brands are promising to take microbeads out of their products they are not in a rush, most brands give a 3-5 year timeline. That allows another 1,719,000 - 2,865,000 pounds of microbeads to be washed into our water supplies.

So what can we do? Easy, make sure when purchasing face scrubs, toothpastes (Our toothpowder is micro-bead free!!), exfoliators, soap etc that you look to see what the exfoliating agent is made out of. Stick to natural exfoliators like Apricot shell, Walnut Shell, Sugar, Salt, Coffee Grounds, Lavender Flowers, Silica, Cotton Washcloths, Strawberry seeds or poppy seeds. The fastest way to make change in our world is to vote with your dollars.

Thanks for helping us make the world a little better one smooth shiny face at a time

<3 The Dirt Team

Please read the original article by Susan Freinkel Here