#CleanSeas: more than 800 people pledge to stop using cosmetics containing microbeads

Under UN Environment’s new #CleanSeas campaign, more than 800 people have already pledged to replace their personal care and cosmetic products that contain microbeads with ocean-friendly alternatives.

On 23 February, UN Environment launched the #CleanSeas campaign to tackle the pressing problem of marine plastic pollution.  Every year, at least 8 million tons of plastic enter the ocean, threatening plants and animals as well as the livelihoods of many coastal communities and quite possibly also human health.

One type of marine plastic pollution is microbeads. These miniscule plastic particles, many of which cannot be seen by the naked eye, are an ingredient in many personal care and cosmetic products. Some of these products contain as much plastic as the packaging they come in. Even toothpaste contains plastic.  Help us change this by committing to our microbeads pledge.

According to one estimate, there are at least 51 trillion microplastic particles in the ocean. Once in the sea, they are impossible to remove and can cause great harm. For instance, they get ingested by fish that mistake it for food. As a result, they can die from starvation, often before they reach reproductive age. In addition to harming the fish and marine ecosystems, the plastic remains in the food chain all the way to our own dinner plates. This is of particular concern because we know that microbeads can absorb whatever toxins are in the water. Scientists are still trying to figure out what this could mean for our health, but we already know that microbeads are found in fish that are sold commercially.

The #CleanSeas campaign aims to achieve a global ban on microplastics in personal care and cosmetic products. It also wants consumers worldwide to stop buying products that contain them.  Several countries have already taken action; The UK, the US and Canada have announced bans on microbeads in personal care and cosmetics products, and the #CleanSeas campaign is encouraging more countries to follow suit.