Some of your favorite exfoliating products are in for a change: The New York Attorney General just introduced a new bill that would ban face washes, body washes, and toothpastes containing microbeads. The idea is that stopping the production, manufacture, distribution, and sale of these products in New York will help eliminate the amount of pollution in the Great Lakes.
Wondering what the connection between these products and water pollution is? Microbeads, the tiny plastic particles found in many face and body washes, are so tiny that they often slip through filtration systems and end up in the waterways that eventually feed into the Great Lakes (or, if you're not in the New York area, to other natural aquatic environments). Fish and other wildlife then ingest the plastic beads, which eventually end up in our food supply, says Danny Seo, a green lifestyle editor and author ofSimply Green Living. Pretty disturbing, huh?
Big brands such as Unilever, Proctor and Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive, and Johnson & Johnson have all recently agreed to phase out the plastic particles and replace them with natural ingredients such as sea salt and walnut shells, according to the proposed bill.
But until the beads are phased out completely, Seo recommends limiting the amount of microbead-containing products you use.
"If you use well water, be cautious not just about microbeads that go down your drain, but other chemicals, too," he says. "Only drink filtered water whenever possible, and just ditch the polymer plastic beads altogether."