Micro plastic pollution is a very serious problem for our environment, especially the marine environment. Millions of tiny plastics break down into even smaller plastics and are washed down drains into our oceans and subsequently into marine animals.
But what exactly are micro plastics? Micro plastics come in all shapes and sizes and are very often invisible to the naked eye. Micro plastics are present in many toiletries and cosmetics like exfoliators, scrubs, toothpastes, and soaps. They can also be referred to as microbeads and are a huge contributor to the growing amount of plastic in the oceans. Many people are shocked to hear that just by going through their daily bathroom or skincare routine, they are unknowingly contributing themselves to ocean plastic pollution.
Micro beads are often mistaken as food by marine animals like plankton, fish, turtles, seabirds, and even whales. They can also harm marine life by leaching toxic chemicals into the water and absorbing toxic substances that are already present in the water and therefore introducing them into the food chain. These substances become more harmful the higher up in the food chain they travel due to biomagnification: the increasing concentration of a substance, such as a toxic chemical, in the tissues of organisms at successively higher levels in a food chain.
So what can we do about this? We can become smarter consumers. Fauna and Floral International has partnered with Surfrider Foundation to launch the Good Scrub Guide that will help you choose facial scrubs and cosmetics that are free of these micro beads thereby helping us send the message that we don't want these things in our houses. To read more about micro plastics and how to avoid them, go to this link: http://www.tangaroablue.org/amdi/good-scrub-guide.html.
By checking the ingredients in the cosmetics and toiletries you buy, you can be doing your part to help us Beat the Micro Bead and safeguard the future of our oceans.
For those on the go, we’ve also teamed up with some great organisations around the world to develop a free smartphone app that lets you scan a product’s barcode to see if it contains plastic (www.beatthemicrobead.org). Simply tap to download, select your region and get scanning!
The Good Scrub Guide focuses mainly on facial scrubs and cleansers, although we encourage you to to check out all the products you use for the presence of micro plastics! Checking your products for these is actually pretty easy. Just take a peek at the ingredient list on the back of your product. Polyethylene and polypropylene are the two main types of plastic to look out for. To be on the safe side, also check if the product is free from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and nylon and you’re good to go.
Click on the Good Scrub Guide Australia to see the full list of plastic-free products and use it as an easy reference tool to help you choose facial scrubs that are free from micro beads. The Guide makes choosing your favourite plastic-free face scrub easier by including a wide range of Australian products that cater to all budgets. For information about other types of products (toothpastes, body washes, soaps etc), check out these online product lists.
You can help – consumers: vote with your wallet!
We need you to vote with your wallet by choosing plastic-free products. By doing so, you will help keep up the pressure on manufacturers, retailers and legislators alike to ensure that they take meaningful action.
- Use the Good Scrub Guide or Beat the Microbead App to choose micro plastic-free products.
- Find out whether your favourite brand has made a public commitment.
- If you have already bought products containing micro plastics, why not send them back to the manufacturer, asking them to stop using these ingredients. If you’re not sure what to write, feel free to use our letter template.
- Think you have found a product containing plastic? Fill out this form to give us the information we need to investigate further.