Natural alternatives to harmful microplastics

Published: 17-Sep-2014

With microplastics, in the form of plastic exfoliant microbeads, being so harmful for the environment and our whole ecosystem, the availability of natural alternatives is a welcome advancement

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For some years now, scientists have expressed their concerns about small plastic particles contained in our everyday products such as cosmetics and toiletries like shower gels, shampoos or body scrubs. The plastics have been entering the marine environment in huge quantities and, in the last two decades of the 20th Century, the deposition rate of plastic has accelerated past the rate of production, which makes plastic the most common type of marine litter worldwide. Thirty years ago the prevailing attitude of the plastic industry was that plastic litter was a very small proportion of all litter and causes no harm to the environment[1]. In 2012, the global production of plastic reached 280 million tons[2]. Now six times more plastic than plankton by mass is floating in an area of the Pacific Ocean, becoming a major source of environmental pollution. Studies of the beaches and ocean floor in southern California show that plastic materials are the most common type of human made debris found in the region[3]. But there’s more to it than this. Different kinds of plastic trash start building conglomerates resembling plastic stones – further evidence of man’s pollution of the earth[4].

The impact of exfoliants

The discussion has now become public, with producers and consumers looking for alternatives to prevent our oceans and seas from becoming even more polluted. Exfoliants help give the body a bright, shiny and attractive appearance, especially in summertime after the effect of a long winter on the skin. The problem is which products are trustworthy and what kind of exfoliants should a good body scrub contain? Before having a closer look at different natural alternatives for plastic beads, let’s see why microplastics are so harmful for the environment and our whole ecosystem.

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