Earth Day: Microbeads – What Are They Good For…? (Includes Products That Dont Use Them).

…Absolutely Nothing!

(For Earth Day, I am republishing this post from last year, the Prime Minister may have left, but the issue remains.)

More than a quarter of a million people have signed a petition organised by Greenpeace, The Environmental Investigation Agency, the Marine Conservation Society and Fauna and Flora International calling on UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, to introduce a ban on the use of microbeads.

Barack Obama has banned them in the US, they are banned in Canada and many other countries are discussing a ban.

What are Microbeads?

Microbeads are tiny beads of plastic used in the manufacture of many toiletries and cosmetics. They act as exfoliants in products like toothpaste, facial cleansers, soaps and body scrubs, cleaning products.

Why should they be banned?

Tiny plastic microbeads can’t be filtered out by our sewage system and they end up in our rivers, lakes, seas and oceans. They are a massively polluting substance. Because they are so tiny, they become ingested by all kinds of sea life: birds, whales, turtles, fish, plankton, bivalves and so on. Most birds studied have been found to have microbeads in their stomachs.

Not only do they harm the species that swallow them but they can harm us too, for example when we use toothpaste and eat fish. Some end up in our soil via fertilisers.

8 Billion tonnes of plastic are disposed of in the oceans every year, do we really need plastic microbeads adding to the problem?

There are many more ethical and natural alternatives for example, seeds, cellulose, nut kernels, sugar, oatmeal and salt.

Many organisations and companies are calling for microbeads to be banned, some have agreed to phase them out, others have stopped using them. According to Greenpeace, Asda, Boots, Avon, L’Oreal, Clarins and Bodyshop have all pledged not to use microbeads in their own products. Other companies have made statements announcing the phasing out of microbeads from their products: Proctor and Gamble, Unilever.

The Co-Operative doesn’t use them at all.


My personal favourite, Dead Sea Magik products don’t contain microbeads or other nasties, are vegan, moisturising, gently exfoliating and you only need a tiny amount so they last a long time too.

1F6AFEA3-1A9C-4422-973E-2492968884EFGreen People organic products have won over 100 awards and are free from microbeads. Most of their products are vegan. Again, a tiny amount is needed, so although they may seem expensive, they last for ages.

They also use recyled and recyclable packaging.

Weleda use natural ingredients, working in harmony with nature, with no petrochemical derivatives, and many of their products are vegan.

We can all help by signing the Greenpeace Petition and by buying our toiletries and cosmetics from companies that don’t use microbeads – or make our own! There are many sites that have recipes for DIY cleansers, exfoliators and moisturisers using coconut oil, avocado and so on.



Beat the Microbead

Plastic Free Seas

Copyright: Chris McGowan