Media Contact: Annabel FitzGerald
Phone: 014002210 or 0876169727
Beat the Microbead for World Water Day
Did you know that by washing your face, brushing your teeth and scrubbing your body you might be polluting the environment and threatening your health?
‘Beat the Microbead’ is an international campaign aimed at raising awareness about the issue of microbeads in cosmetic products and encouraging consumers to purchase alternative microbead free products. Here in Ireland, An Taisce’s Clean Coasts programme joined the fight against microbeads in comestics by supporting the ‘Beat the Microbead’ Campaign since the beginning of 2014. For World Water Day 2015, which takes place this Sunday 22nd March, Clean Coasts is asking people to help ‘Beat the Microbead’ by downloading the free app to check for microbeads in products and to stop buying these products. The app can be downloaded from www.cleancoasts.org
What Are Microbeads?
Tiny particles of plastic are ingredients in thousands of personal care products sold around the world. These plastic microbeads, hardly visible to the naked eye, flow straight from the bathroom drain into the sewage system. Wastewater treatment plants are not designed to filter out microbeads, typically less than 1 millimeter wide, and so they end up in our waterways and oceans. Sea creatures absorb or eat microbeads. These microbeads are passed along the marine food chain. Since humans are ultimately at the top of this food chain, it is likely that we are also absorbing microbeads from the food we eat. Microbeads are not biodegradable and once they enter the marine environment, they are impossible to remove. Scientists tell us that microbeads become more toxic over time and these toxins can biomagnify up the food chain so the top predator has the highest concentration of the toxins. That’s us!
Three out of four scrubs contain micro plastics. Shampoos, soap, toothpaste, eyeliners, lip gloss, deodorant and sunblock sticks may also contain plastic particles. A single product can contain thousands of microbeads. These micro particles are made of Polyethylene (PE), Polypropylene (PP), Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) and Nylon. PE and PP are the most common.
Beat the Microbead App
The Beat the Microbead App scans the barcode of personal care products informing the consumer whether or not the product contains plastic microbeads. Products are divided into the categories Red, Orange and Green. Red: the product contains microbeads; Orange: the product contains microbeads but the manufacturer has pledged to stop using microbeads in the near future; Green, the product does not contain microbeads.
Speaking about Beat the Microbead, Annabel FitzGerald, Clean Coasts Manager said, “Clean Coasts encourage all eco-minded consumers to download the app which takes the guess work out of choosing a face wash, body scrub or toothpaste by informing you whether or not it contains microbeads!” She added that “plastic microbeads as ingredients in personal care products is such a needless and avoidable source of pollution considering that there are many alternatives available such as crushed walnut shells and dried coconut which are just as good exfoliants”
About Clean Coasts
Clean Coasts engages communities in the protection of Ireland’s beaches, seas and marine life. The programme is operated by the Environmental Education Unit of An Taisce and is currently funded by the Department of the Environment, Community & Local Government, Coca-Cola and Fáilte Ireland.
The Clean Coasts volunteering effort engages communities in the protection and conservation of their local coastal environment. There are currently 432 registered Clean Coasts groups. There are a variety of group types such as community groups, residents associations, tidy towns groups, sports clubs, schools, businesses, universities etc. Clean Coasts organises hundreds of beach clean-ups annually mobilising thousands of volunteers, removing considerable quantities of marine litter from Ireland’s beaches and waterways.
Two Dutch NGOs – the North Sea Foundation and the Plastic Soup Foundation launched the app in 2012 as part of their Beat the Microbead campaign.