Unilever vows to remove microbeads by 2015
Tue, Feb 12 2013 at 11:03 PM
Cutting down on plastic usage? Then you might want to reconsider your skin care products.
While I am an avid recycler and really push myself and those around me to avoid plastic usage in the first place, apparently I am a very ignorant consumer. I had always considered exfoliating creams and soaps on par with my teenage favorite, apricot scrub, and assumed that these goods were prepared with natural substances like apricot, walnut, or coconut bits, or even something coarse like sand or chopped up seed husks.
But no. Apparently, items that are true to the earth are-surprise!- inconsistent and might cause tiny scratches on your skin, irritation, or at worst spread infection.
In come the evils of plastic. Many lotions, facial scrubs, and soaps that contain exfoliating beads are not plant or mineral based, but are full of tiny plastic pellets. While this might treat your skin with a slightly gentler touch, like everything else, it is horrible on the environment.
Since the beads are minute, they are unable to be filtered out of our water in treatment facilities. Most find their way into our waterways, becoming part of the plastic nightmare that infests our oceans and makes its way back into the food chain.
Luckily, one company has decided to take a stand and reevaluate the role its products play in our environment. Unilever announced last month that it will remove all plastic microbeads from its line of soaps and skin care by the year 2015. One of the largest suppliers of health and beauty products, including brands Vaseline, St. Ives, Noxema, Dove, Suave, Lever2000, Caress, and Ponds, Unilever promises to make a noticeable dent in the amount of polyethylene polluting our water.
However, two years for reformulation equals a lot of plastic particles that marine life mistake for food. To tell if your scrubs or soaps contain these materials, look for Polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) or Polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) in the ingredient list, and try to select a different item that has natural ingredients. Unilever is certainly not the only company utilizing microplastics as exfoliators, but it is currently the only one making an effort to curb this practice.
Check out this website to decipher some of the other ingredients in skin care products, many of which are harmful to you and the environment.
Want to put a little pressure on other companies endangering the ocean with plastic particles? The North Sea Foundation has put together a Beat the Micro Bead petition and asks people around the globe to boycott these products until they are removed from the shelves altogether.