Editorial: Limiting plastic use a good start

It’s time to do away with plastic microbeads in our cosmetics, cleansers and toothpastes.

It’s time to do away with plastic microbeads in our cosmetics, cleansers and toothpastes.

There is good reason to believe these plastic microbeads are already clogging up the bodies of miniscule marine life after being swept down the drains and excreted through ocean outfalls. Even in areas with sewage treatment (i.e. everywhere but Greater Victoria), the tiny flakes of plastic are still finding their way into the Great Lakes and other bodies of water in disturbing concentrations.

Europeans are ahead of North America in the fight against microplastics in everyday products. As an example, two Dutch-based advocacy groups launched an app in 2012 that identifies which products contain plastic microbeads (see BeatTheMicrobead.org).

But the momentum is shifting in North America. New Jersey recently banned the manufacture and sale of plastic microbeads in cosmetic product, and a ban already exists in Illinois; several other states are considering similar measures. Consumers are also getting more conscientious about plastic waste, and should be applauded for avoiding products that contain plastic beads.

But why do manufacturers continue to use plastic microbeads in their products? Exfoliation and esthetics are the advertised reasons, but it really comes down to cost-savings, which hardly justifies their continued use. It turns out natural exfoliants like rice, apricot seeds, nut shells and even bamboo work even better than microbeads for exfoliation because they have rough edges.

Companies like Johnson & Johnson, Unilever, The Body Shop, L’Oreal, Colgate-Palmolive and others are sensing the shift in direction and have already started phasing out microbeads in an effort to eliminate their use by 2015. Environment Canada is now studying the potential toxicity of microplastics, but government does has a way of dredging through any new regulatory measures.

In the meantime, avoid purchasing any products with polyethylene or polypropylene in the ingredients list. Aquatic life will thank you for it.

 

Just Posted

Saanich lifeguards earn Vital Link awards for cardiac arrest response

Awards from BC Emergency Health Services recognize quick and skillful life-saving

Cyclists and drivers take to the streets Wednesday morning in first official Bike to Work Week celebration

The 25th annual Greater Victoria Bike to Work Week kicks off the followingMonday, May 27

Art and fashion collide for a cause at the Union Club of Victoria

May 26 event benefits Art Gallery of Greater Victoria exhibitions and educational programs

UVic science and engineering research gets $18.8 million federal funding boost

Funding for engineering, science, sustainability research

Horse carriage supporters to rally outside city hall

Owner of carriage company plans rally in response to Coun. Ben Isitt’s motion

VIDEO: Fun without sun: Hundreds enjoy Family Fest on Victoria Day

Families enjoy activities in Veterans Memorial Park

POLL: Were you satisfied with the Game of Thrones series finale?

Millions gathered in front of their televisions Sunday night to watch the… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of May 21

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Raptors beat Bucks 120-102 to even series at 2-2

Lowry pours in 25 as Toronto moves within two games of NBA Finals

Body of missing snowmobiler recovered from Great Slave Lake

Police confirm the body is that of one of three missing snowmobilers

Christmas morning burglar sentenced on Vancouver Island

Justin Redmond Feusse, 20, sentenced to 240 days in jail for Dec. 25 break-and-enter

‘Conservation financing’ could stop old-growth logging

Reader says with this type of financing province recognizes the benefit of forests

So, do you know ‘Dave from Vancouver Island’?

Ontario man searching for fellow he travelled with in Europe 50 years ago

Toddler seriously injured after falling from Okanagan balcony

RCMP are investigating after a two-year-old boy fell from the balcony of an apartment in Kelowna

Most Read