The Hidden Evil of Microplastics
Can Looks Kill? Microplastics are omnipresent but most of us are unaware of these new hidden agents that are detrimental to our overall health. Stripping our Beauty Closet or Skincare Regimen of microplastics requires consciousness. While the cosmetic industry (both beauty and skincare) have efforts underway to reduce usage, the overall industry is not even close to embracing plastic free. We, as eco conscious consumers, can help the industry move forward by choosing products that are not only better for us but also help the environment. This is not about being an eco-snob but rather about taking simple effective steps that count towards our own wellness and the long-term health of our beloved planet for the future generations.
What Are Microplastics and Why Are Microplastics Bad?
Microplastics are less than five millimeters in length and microbeads are tiny plastic particles usually smaller than two millimeters (the size of a sesame seed). Microbeads are a category of microplastics and are added to many health and beauty products like cleansers, shower gels, toothpastes etc. In 2015, the U.S. enacted federal legislation to ban microbeads in rinse off products (but exempting leave on products) and so it remains that microplastics continue to lurk in most cosmetics including creams, mascara, eye shadow.
Plastic byproducts and debris (microplastics) in the oceans are detrimental to ecosystems. Humans are exposed to microplastics via the consumption of seafood and drinking water, contact with food packaging, or inhalation of particles. Scientific research has proven that the accumulation and long-term exposure of microplastic particles in humans has many potential health risks. They attract persistent organic toxins (POPs) and are therefore recognized as a global environmental issue, due to both the impact this type of pollution has on marine biodiversity as well as the eventual consequences on human health.
How Can We Avoid Microplastics?
The microplastics pollution is no doubt a highly complex intertwined issue. Our platform for that reason is a journey to help our community find solutions and replacements, or at least take us all one step closer to a beauty or skincare regimen that is both efficacious and beneficial to the overall society. As an informed consumer, you have the power to help brands be better over the course of time.
Here’s How You Can Start:
❖ Read these articles: National Geographic & Vox as they provide a well-rounded account of plastic pollution.
❖ Avoid microplastics such as Polythylene Terepthalate (Glitter), PolyPropylene (BB creams, Sunscreen), and Polytheylene (packaging, soaps, facial and body gels, toothpaste facial creams, eye contours, lip balms) – These microplastics are cheaper alternatives to natural ingredients. To help you identify a list of main microplastics to avoid, we have included a quick reference list:
Propylene Copolymer or Polypropylene
❖ Recycle and Reuse existing plastic bottles you already have (reduced wastage counts). “America uses about three million bottles, every hour of every day”. Dispose bottle caps responsibly as caps pose a hazard as they also break down into microplastics when left in the environment. Use plastic bottles for storing: kitchen scrubs, buttons, toner on the ‘go’ for travel, or create a DIY garden. Check this out: https://dirt.asla.org/2013/08/13/diy-vertical-gardening/.
❖ Pick wellness and skin care products with fewer ingredients – Aim for less than 10-12 ingredients.
❖ Look for packaging that is reusable, refillable, or compostable. As part of a Zero Waste Beauty or Skincare Regimen consider the following replacements to help you transition:
– Never buy wet wipes (8 billion wipes are thrown, and most contain plastics). Never flush wet wipes down the loo!
– Use bamboo toothbrushes. However, know that most bristles contain plastic and are not biodegradable.
– Buy local products where possible so the producers are fully aware of their manufacturing processes.
– Buy reusable and washable makeup remover pads or use wash clothes.
– Support product offerings that use post-consumer recycled plastic.
As a society we seem to embrace Raw, Vegan, Sustainable, Green, Plant Based, Organic, Wild Crafted, Cruelty Free – or whatever the latest buzz word is. However, plant-based means nothing if it is sold to you in plastic with wasteful packaging. Simply put; it’s like having a plant-based snack with numerous artificial ingredients that negate the one “healthy” green ingredient touted being good for you. Similarly, in the wellness realm, we’d be way smarter if we could connect the dots or understand the interconnectivity of all the fancy terms and just not chalk it up to what’s “in trend”.
The microplastics issue isn’t solved by transitioning to a bamboo toothbrush or running out and buying the next in-fashion product but rather by understanding the broader implications of our choices as a collective society. Our articles are meant to help you our supporters take an action however small and bring you closer to topics that matter to you.