In 2013, Fauna & Flora International (FFI) launched the Good Scrub Guide to help shoppers find face scrubs that do not contain microplastic ingredients (also known as plastic microbeads), which can be harmful to the environment.
Now, FFI has launched a new quick guide to help you find microplastic-free toothpastes, body scrubs and shaving products.
“Initially, this project was focused on facial exfoliators as we felt this was something that most people could relate to, but over the past two years we have also reviewed over 1,300 personal care and cosmetic products in the UK in support of the global Beat the Microbead campaign and have found microplastics in over half of the product categories we reviewed,” explained Dilyana Mihaylova, FFI’s Marine Plastics Project Officer.
Plastic microbeads (which are often used as exfoliants but can have many different functions in a wide range of products) are tiny – usually less than 5 millimetres in diameter – and once they are washed down the drain they cannot be filtered out by wastewater treatment facilities. As a result, they end up in our rivers and seas, where they are often eaten by marine wildlife and become embedded in marine ecosystems.
The quick guide launched today will make use of this extensive data-gathering exercise, providing shoppers with examples of brands that do not use plastic microbeads in their toothpastes, body scrubs and shaving products.
“We know this is an issue that people care deeply about,” said Dan Steadman, FFI’s Marine Plastics Project Manager. “The use of microplastic ingredients in health and beauty products is completely unnecessary as there are plenty of natural alternatives available that do not have such a serious impact on the environment.”
The Good Scrub Guide forms part of FFI’s strategy to tackle marine microplastic pollution by working constructively with companies to persuade them to phase out these ingredients. This approach has proven extremely effective, with many leading manufacturers and retailers having already made the pledge to scrub microplastics out of their products.
However more needs to be done to level the playing field to ensure that these commitments are ambitious and that companies honour them. For this reason, FFI is also supporting Greenpeace UK’s petition for a ban on plastic microbeads.
Keep up the good work!
By choosing microplastic-free products and making your choice known, you will send a clear message to manufacturers, retailers and policy makers that people want to end this unnecessary pollution.
There are a number of ways you can support this important work:
- Sign the petition calling on British Prime Minister David Cameron to ban the use of microplastics in products that can go down the drain.
- Use the regularly updated Good Scrub Guide and Beat the Microbead App to easily find microplastic-free products and pledge to Scrub it out!
- Keep up to date with all the brands that have made public commitments. For regular updates, follow @GoodScrub and @BeatTheBead on Twitter.
- Check whether the products on your bathroom shelf contain microplastics by looking for the following ingredients: polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), and nylon.
- If you have already bought products containing microplastics, you can send them back to the manufacturer, asking them to end the use of these ingredients. Not sure what to write? Feel free to use our letter template.
- Have a product you would like us to assess? Fill out this form and we will investigate further.
- If you want to know more about the widespread use of plastic ingredients in cosmetics, we recommend UNEP’s latest report on the issue.
* To our knowledge, all microplastic-free options in our product database are free from solid plastic ingredients including polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate, polymethyl methacrylate, polytetrafluoroethylene and nylon. Products containing co- or cross-polymers or ingredients of potential concern identified by UNEP have been excluded from our recommended list pending further investigation.