Last week, significant progress on banning harmful plastic microbeads was made when the California State Senate approved bill AB 888. With support from over 75 water agencies, environmental organizations, and green businesses in the state, it is clear that Californians have had enough of companies using the dangerous and unnecessary beads. Now the state awaits the next steps before the ban becomes law.
Assembly member Michael Bloom, who authored the bill, says “Continuing to use these harmful and unnecessary plastics when natural alternatives are widely available is simply irresponsible and will only result in significant cleanups costs to taxpayers who will have to foot the bill to restore our already limited water resources and ocean health.” The bill is sponsored by organizations such as Californians Against Waste, The Story of Stuff Project, The 5 Gyres Institute, Clean Water Action, and the California Association of Sanitation Agencies (CASA), who all vehemently agree that the use of the beads is vastly destructive.
One personal care product can contain up to 350,000 microbeads, which all wash right down the drain and, mostly, right through waste treatment plants, according to CASA. They not only pollute the ocean just by their presence, but easily absorb toxic chemicals, which are then ingested by marine life – not good for them, not good for humans who eat them.
With the availability of natural exfoliant ingredients, which many companies already use, it’s a wonder that some companies are still in the microbead trade. Walnut shells, apricot shells, and cocoa beans are much safer alternatives and still do the trick with personal care needs. Anyone can make the switch now, yet if the bill is passed it will shut down the 38 tons of microbead pollution in California’s waterways each year, beginning January 1, 2020.