No beads, please

The U.K. Bans Microbeads From Many Products

Microbeads bite the dust.

Photo Illustration by Kelly Caminero/The Daily Beast

Earlier this week, the British government banned manufacturers from using microbeads—tiny plastic balls that offer the sensation of scrubbing—in products. It’s a huge move forward for not only public health but the environment. Fish mistake the small, often colorful microbeads that are dumped into waterways as eggs to eat. Microbeads, however, are highly absorbent and suck up toxins. Those toxins can easily enter a fish’s digestive system and sicken—perhaps even kill—them. Humans can eat those fish, too, which continues a chain of toxicity. And while microbeads have been celebrated for their scrubbing power, they’re not necessarily good for human skin either, often scraping layers off that would otherwise keep skin moisturized and protected. Alternative abrasives, like seeds and sand, have been championed as a replacement to microbeads. The United States passed an act that banned microbeads in July 2017 from production; Canada and the Netherlands have already passed similar bans. It’s a win-win for our health and our planet’s too.