Your morning routine may go as follows: have breakfast, brush teeth, shower, then head out to start your day.
But there’s a hidden step in there you may not be aware of – polluting the ocean and endangering sea life while *contaminating the food chain.
*Microbeads are *miniscule pieces of plastic omnipresent in our everyday cosmetics that you may have never paid much attention to up until now.
From face *scrubs, *exfoliating shower gels and even toothpaste, there’s no escaping them.
But while they may help keep our skin and teeth looking good, many species of sea life are mistaking the tiny colorful balls for food, ending up with them in their *digestive systems.
We find pieces of plastic in every sample of seawater we study from round the world, professor Tamara Galloway of Exeter University told the BBC.
What makes this even more worrying is that plastic is known to be excellent at absorbing toxic pollutants in water – such as motor oil or *pesticides – and it’s thought that these toxins could be making their way up the food chain and eventually onto our plates.
An average plate of oysters could contain up to 50 plastic particles.
We don’t have any evidence yet for the harm this might cause but most people would probably prefer not to be eating microbeads with their food, Galloway explains.
A number of countries have announced they will ban microbeads, including the UK and the US, but campaigners say that more still needs to be done to completely rid Earth of the tiny grains of plastic for good.
There’s a load of products containing microbeads – like washing detergents and other household products – which might not be banned.
That makes no sense to us, Fiona Nicholls of Greenpeace UK writes on its website.
After all, what does a hungry fish care if the microplastic clogging its gut has come from a face scrub or a washing powder?
There are still safe ways to dispose of microbead-containing products, for people who decide they don’t want to use them any more.
Several websites recommend squeezing the offending product into the trash, rather than down the sink, before cleaning out the container with disposable tissue and placing it in the recycling bin.
And for those who still want to enjoy the benefits of exfoliating, they still can.
There are several natural substitutes that are said to work in the exact same way as their plastic counterparts, except these will *biodegrade when flushed down the drain.
There are many ingredients that can be used as an alternative. There’s *jojoba beads, *cocoa, raspberry seeds, rice flour, oats – to name but a few, says Sonia White of British cosmetics firm Love Lula.
There is absolutely no cosmetic ingredient that is worth using if it has a negative effect on the environment and animals.
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