5 Gyres works to help stop plastic pollution of microbeads

plastic microbeads

The issue of plastic in our oceans is huge – and growing! Even with encouraging news regarding Dutch engineering student Boyan Slat’s plan to clean up half the Pacific Garbage Patch in just 10 years, the issue of microbeads remains.

Plastic microbeads are in beauty products like toothpaste and facial scrubs in humongous amounts. One tube of exfoliating scrub can contain over 350,000 plastic microbeads! It’s estimated that 471 million microbeads are released into the San Francisco Bay every day.

Fish and other marine life ingest these small plastic particles, viewing them as food. Birds feed them to their young, essentially starving them and themselves to a painful death. And if that’s not bad enough, we humans eat the fish and other seafood that has ingested all this plastic. Imagine THAT the next time you order your favorite seafood for dinner!

There is no microbead alternative that still uses plastic that will stop the toxic effect microbeads has on our oceans and our health.

The 5 Gyres Institute and a coalition of leading environmental groups have cosponsored the California bill, AB 888. It would ban toxic plastic microbeads in California and pave the way for the widespread use of degradable alternatives like apricot pits, sea salt, and ground almonds.

Unfortunately, the bill faces major opposition as it heads to the California State Senate from beauty care giant Johnson & Johnson, who called the bill “too restrictive” in the NY Times. Thanks to massive public pressure from 5 Gyres,  Johnson & Johnson already pledged to remove plastic microbeads from its products.

Consumers can speak up and sign the petition to support this bill being passed – either on a state or national level.

BUT all is not as you’d expect from beauty giant J&J.

Through a loophole in the law, J&J – and other companies – intend to replace traditional plastic microbeads with other types of dangerous plastics, like the type used in cigarette filters.

Plastic Microbeads in cosmetics

So why is Johnson & Johnson trying to sidestep its promise while still maintaining it’s keeping its promise? For that matter, wouldn’t it be more exciting and generate more consumer enthusiasm and brand loyalty if J&J came up with a really innovative solution to the issue and ran with it with their PR?

Innovation to a global crisis versus greed and manipulation via PR. Hmm…guess the latter costs less and takes less of a bite out of shareholders’ stakes. As the saying goes, follow the money. And once again, consumers – and our oceans and marine life – lose.

Thanks, Johnson & Johnson.

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