Back in September we have been hearing about microbeads and the microbead ban on the news. But what's happening? How long will it take to ban them? And what can you do in the meantime?
First of all, you may still wonder “what is a microbead?” Microbeads are defined as manufactured solid plastic particles (polyethylene, polypropylene or polystyrene) of less than five millimeters in their largest dimension. They can be found in exfoliating beauty products and toothpastes, causing them to end in the sewage and passing unfiltered due to their micro size, making it to rivers, canals and the ocean. According to a government report1 a single shower can result in 100,000 plastic particles entering the sewage system and 680 tonnes of plastic microbeads are used in the UK every year. Microbeads and more generally microplastics are a relatively new “impact” on aquatic environment and research is still on its early days , however there is scope for significant impacts on freshwater and marine environments.
So, while the ban is being introduced and implemented there are a few things that can be done:
First of all always check “ingredients” on beauty products (especially scrubs and toothpaste) and look for natural exfoliants such as almonds, sugar, salt, bicarbonate. If you are short on time while shopping check "beatthemicrobead.org", which has an extensive product lists for many countries including UK and Ireland.
If you feel more adventurous try some of these DIY recipes and tips:
Mix some coconut oil with bicarbonate of soda and some peppermint oil. Bicarbonate can taste a little salty so try with the ratio a few times. I would recommend making a new batch every couple days just to avoid any possible contamination.
Hydrogen peroxide (at low concentration, mixed with water) is great to dunk your toothbrush in and use as a second brush or as mouthwash before bed to kill the last stubborn bacteria!
Coffee grains are the most useful: after your usual morning cup, keep your used coffee grains. You can use on their own, or mix with some coconut oil for extra moisture. They are not only great gentle scrub, but also have cellulite fighting potential - so why not give it a try!
Salt - table salt is a great, mix with usual soap or natural oil for extra moisture. Essential oil.
Sugar - caster sugar is gentle, mix with coconut and essential oil. Personally love grapefruit oil or lemon and peppermint for morning energy kick.
Sponge -buy a good quality one! possibly one of the best option. You can buy them of different materials for different scrubbing strengths. Choose them made of natural material and sourced ethically (always read the labels!), and they last! Rinse with some hydrogen peroxide (Cleaning blog coming up soon) and it will last for a long long time!
Have to pick more gentle options here compared to body scrubs
Almond flour / ground almond / almond meal : on its own with some water. Will leave your skin smooth and soft and hydrated as it leaves some oil behind. Perhaps it can seem a little on the expensive side, however you only need less than a teaspoon so a packet will get you a long way!
Sponge- again there are many great sponges/brushes out there, this is the best reusable option, choose brushes made of natural materials and ethically sourced.
Disclaimer: Try at your own risk. I am not a doctor, every skin is different, so try on small part first. Read about essential oil properties prior use and choose oils of the pure variety.
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