Avoiding ‘polys’ in beauty products
Opening my eyes to plastic pollution
What started with concerns over microplastics in beauty products lead me to understand the main source of the problem is coming from entirely different industries, i.e. Infrastructure, logistics and the textiles industry (more research and tips to follow on those over the coming weeks).
For this post, I will continue to focus on microplastics in beauty products, heres how the week went: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday all flew by and I was lost for what to do for my challenge. Thursday arrived and in the evening, I was at the local supermarket. As my little scaly face had been screaming at me for weeks for some sort of moisturiser, I buckled, and bought a pot. This is something I had been putting off because I wanted to inform myself about which microplastic ingredients to avoid.
Finally, I sat down to do some research on ingredients, albeit after having bought the product (which is of course not the right way of doing things). Sure enough, it turns out the cream I purchased did contain one type of microplastic – Dimethicone 😖!
A simple introduction into microplastics in beauty products
Although we cannot see them, microplastics from beauty products are a substantial problem, here are a few facts:
- Beauty products account for 35,000 tonnes of the plastics going into our oceans per year (Source: Eunomia). To give some comparison, the average small car weights about 1 tonne (Ford Fiesta = 1.2 tonnes) so that is the weight of 35,000 cars worth of non-visible plastics from beauty products alone – EVERY YEAR.
- An estimated 808 trillion beads per household are discharged in a single day from standard bathroom products (Source: Wikipedia)
- Practically all bathroom products contain microplastics. Facial and body scrubs are easily identified culprits, but lots of other items include plastics, from body washes to facial cleansers and even toothpaste.
- Identifying microplastic ingredients in products is easier than you think – Put simply, anything with ‘poly’ or ‘PEG’ in the name is to be avoided, along with Carbomer, Dimethicone, Ethylene and Nylon. You can check your products using Beat The Microbead.
I checked 12 products from our bathroom and only 3 were free of the ingredients that Beat The Microbead states to avoid! #RoomForImprovement 😳
4 simple ways to reduce or avoid microplastics
- Buy products free of microplastics – check before you buy using Beat The Microbead
- Use less product per wash! So many of us use huge amounts of lotions and potions that are simply not necessary. Get in the habit of using smaller amounts more efficiently, e.g. with the help of foaming sponges or natural scrub mittens.
- Introduce a few days a week without products. Contrary to what beauty companies lead you to believe, a daily routine is not necessary. Whether it be washing your hair or moisturising your skin – our bodies were built to look after themselves. We are being kind to ourselves and the environment by allowing our skin and hair a few days of doing its own thing. For all our sakes though – keep brushing those teeth 😬 (Jen from Sustainable(ish) has a few tips for pure pearly-whites)
Understanding the bigger picture of plastic pollution is critical
Whilst, the main point of this particular post is; it is absolutely crucial that we stop creating demand for these products by not buying them and increase pressure on beauty manufactures to stop producing them, it needs to be highlighted that beauty products only scratch the surface of plastic pollution. My research this week lead me to this incredibly informative paper from Eunomia, which indicates that primary microplastics count for 0.08% of the plastics flowing in to the ocean, microplastics from beauty products count for 0.003%.
Primary microplastics are those that were created to be small particles less than 5mm, e.g. ingredients of beauty products etc. Secondary are particles that derive from bigger items made from plastic, for example tyres and textiles – here is where the bigger issue lies!
I am going to leave you with the below info-graphic and a link to the Eunomia paper on ‘Plastics in the Marine Environment’ (2016). Following this article finding the focus for next weeks challenge was easy – clothing & textiles!
Thanks for reading
Your Better Me Greener