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When Tiny Plastic Beads Were Standard In Cosmetics

One of the biggest environmental and ecological problems we are facing today is the pollution of water by a collection of different materials known as microplastics.

Microplastics are a consequence of water runoff, storms, strong winds and littering that cause plastics to enter water supplies where they are often consumed by fish and other marine animals, entering our bodies through them, and potentially causing harm to us in the process.

Naturally, an ethical store avoids the use of single-use plastics at all costs, instead using recycled materials and biodegradable materials and ingredients in their products.

It would be ridiculous to add a lot of tiny microplastic beads into products that by design were meant to be consumed, washed off and end up in the water supply, but in doing so we may be giving some companies way too much credit.

Since 2018, microbeads have been banned in the UK and most of the world has followed suit, but there was a time when exfoliants, shampoos, shower products and even some kinds of toothpaste included microplastic beads as an abrasive material that would scrub stains away.

The concept, and indeed concerns about its potential dangers date back as far as the 1960s when military manufacturer Bofors branched out into making toothpaste. Yes, really.

Amazingly enough, the toothpaste seemed to be deadlier than their anti-aircraft guns as there were rumours the beads would stick in the body, causing cell death and cancer.

In the early 2010s, concerns about microbeads ramped up again, with the North Sea Foundation launching an app in conjunction with the Plastic Soup Foundation to help people check for products containing microbeads and find alternative plastic-free products.

This led to the voluntary phasing out of microbeads by large manufacturers and widespread bans in several countries around the world.

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