MICRO PLASTICS IN PERSONAL CARE PRODUCTS?
HEY LOVELY! Today's post is about what triggered my eco-beauty conscience.
Before early 2015, I was a fairly naive consumer of skincare and beauty products, mainly because I trusted that companies who branded themselves as "caring" and "natural", actually were.
That's until I saw the infographic below on Facebook that depicted a large portion of our products containing plastic micro (the size of a pin head) beads, which were going undetected through our waste water treatment plants and directly into larger fresh waterways because the water plant filters are too small to capture these nocuous plastics.
Companies had been using plastic micro beads made from polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET) or polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) in our personal care products such as soap, body wash, face scrubs and toothpaste as a cheap alternative to previously natural, biodegradable exfoliates.
And despite knowing the harmful effects on the environment, they weren't stopping.
First, I wanted to know if the infographic was true so I investigated 5Gyres claims with the Operations Manager of the West Australian Water Corporation. When I spoke to her she said she wasn't aware that we were dealing with plastics typically smaller than a pin head (and as a consumer, had no idea that this was happening) yet the next day it was confirmed to be true!
Not only was I was gobsmacked, I was pretty pissed off that I'd bought and used these products.
I felt betrayed by well-known brands I had trusted as most of them had "greenwashed" themselves as being "natural" so I hadn’t realised I was contributing to an environmental issue. Brands such as The Body Shop, Aveeno (Johnson& Johnson), any Johnson & Johnson brand, the list went on.
So I complained and let them know that I was an unhappy consumer. I received my money back and a written response stating there were "phasing out" ... but only because a national ban was looming.
I wanted to do more. I spoke with Emily, the Community Engagement Manager of the WA Water Corp (who also wasn't aware of what she had been buying) and one solution we discussed to prevent littering into the environment was to better equip the plants with finer grade filters, however the costs of upgrading and maintaining would be passed directly onto us as a community which we (Emily and I) agreed as being an unfair.
The only other alternative was to create a national campaign that raised awareness and educated consumers about the dangers of plastic micro beads whilst offering them the long term solution to shop brands, such as Happy Skincare,who were already doing the right thing for our environment (and continue to do everything they can).
I reached out through different avenues; one of which was my local paper at the time and involved myself in different awareness campaigns and reached out to Environmental Ministers asking for a response on this issue.
Since then the government slowly rolled out its ban but not before companies made every cent they could at our long term expense.
Nowadays I'm more thoughtful about the plastic I'm using and where that plastic is going, especially in something as frivolous as personal beauty products and single use plastics.
As consumers, we all contribute to the health of this planet. What we buy supports companies and their ideas.
More importantly, what we won't buy sends a clear statement . Showing a company that we refuse to invest in their products has a greater, immediate impact on what they willing to sell us, far more powerful then any petition or ban.
Question - What changes have you made in your household to lessen your impact on the environment?