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California Banned This Tiny Thing That’s Wrecking Our Oceans and Rivers

Tuesday Oct 13, 2015 1:00 PM

A sample of microbeads collected in Lake Erie. (AP)

Another environmental victory for our oceans, rivers, and streams! Last year California proposed a ban on microplastics, or microbeads, in cosmetics. While these tiny little beads in toothpastes, soap, and face scrub seem like a micro problem, in reality they have a huge impact on our environment.

800 trillion microbeads wash into American wastewater every day. Scientists have also found that there’s nearly to 1.7 million pieces of micro plastic in each square mile of the Great Lakes. Microbeads are impossible for water treatment plants to process. The little plastic beads wash into rivers, lakes, and oceans. Animals eat them and then eventually they may even make our way back to us.


The good news is that slowly but surely, the fate of these little beads is changing. California’s governor Jerry Brown just signed legislation to ban microbeads. The new law is designed to protect against loopholes, too. This means even biodegradable beads aren’t allowed.

When California bans something, because its a leader in the consumer products world, it tends to start a swell of change across the industry. It is easier to nix microbeads from soap and toothpaste all together instead of designing a different product for the highly populated state.

Six other states have the ban in place, too: Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland and New Jersey. Next up? New York. In the meantime, if you do have microbeads in that face scrub of yours, maybe try something else. Even granola could do the job.

This article is brought to you by our partners at RYOT. Click here to view the original article on RYOT.org



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