Microbead, Macro-problem

“If all insects on Earth disappeared, within 50 years all life on Earth would end. If all human beings disappeared from the Earth, within 50 years all forms of life would flourish.”
— Jonas Salk, Biologist

If you went to your local Walmart or any other general store today you would find an entire aisle dedicated to skin and body care. In that aisle there will be enough products containing microbeads to fill at least one shopping cart. Microbeads are minuscule balls of plastic found in many face personal care products such as facial scrubs and toothpaste. They are typically made of polypropylene or polyethylene and are so small, sometimes as small as 1 mm, that they pass through most water treatment systems. This means that after they swirl down your drain they head straight for the oceans. Along the way, these microbeads tend to absorb any number of chemicals like a sponge. They are then mistaken for food by thousands of fish, many of which retain the plastic and eventually die of starvation. These fish eventually eat so much plastic that they can no long eat any actual food. Not only that, these microbeads also tend to release all of the chemicals they absorbed on the way once they are ingested. These chemicals are then absorbed by the fish and then kindly shared with whatever eats the fish, including humans.

I don’t understand how humans can knowingly cause harm to their home. This planet is the only one we get, that alone should be motivation enough to take care of it. The fight against harmful microbeads has already begun. According to an article by NPR, state lawmakers in Illinois and New York have approved legislature banning microIMG_20150221_192052beads in their states. This is amazing. I decided to do my part by educating the people in my community about the dangers of microbeads. With the help of DoSomething.org, I found a campaign where I went to my local convenience store and took a picture of some of the products that contain microbeads. I then posted this picture onto all my social media accounts along with an educational paragraph in hopes that if the people around me become aware of the problem they will do their part to stop contributing.

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