'Mission Blue' is a documentary that I recommend EVERYONE watch (it is currently on Netflix) this features Dr Sylvia Earle and it focuses on Dr Earle's life and mission to save the Ocean. The documentary is filled with footage from her various dives and explorations of the Oceans. Dr Earle mentions that even at the deepest depths of the Ocean she can still see the footprint of human existence, there is footage of the deepest part of the Ocean and what does Dr Earle see - a plastic chair. I think this speaks volumes, Plastic is one of the worst offenders for clogging up the Oceans. Plastic is not biodegradable, some Plastic can be recycled (but I can guarantee everyone on the planet still doesn't recycle properly) so it just goes onto landfill & into the Oceans. Looking at Plastic packaging today I am not quite sure why products we use are even made with un-recyclable materials, it seems ridiculous. We are littering and filling up the planet knowing full well that it's polluting it and it will never go away.
One offender for Plastic pollution (and one that we can eradicate) in the cosmetic industry is Microbeads, these are the tiny round plastic beads found in a lot of soaps, body scrubs and washes. Once washed off these beads head down the plug whole, through the pipes and end up piling up in the Ocean's, animals living in the Ocean are then eating them and it goes down the food chain. I have seen more and more posts recently about beached animals, a post-mortem is performed (to determine why they washed because of unusual circumstances) and what do they find in their stomachs? Along with huge amounts of fishing gear is Plastic. Barack Obama recently signed a bill banning the Microbead for good in the U.S.A which is fantastic and I hope the UK & other countries follow suit. If we can phase these awful (and completely unnecessary) plastics out soon that would have a huge effect on the ocean and it inhabitants. We know these are bad for the environment, such a small thing has had a huge damaging effect. There are so many accessible alternatives there is NO need for Plastic Microbeads.
One high street brand that has jumped on the ban the bead band wagon is The Body Shop, I had heard they were going to replace the Microbead's in their products by the end of 2015. I emailed their customer service to double check this, see the response below.
"Polyethylene micro beads are no longer used in any of our products. In 204 we made a commitment to replace these ingredients with a naturally-derived alternative during 2015, which we fulfilled. The materials that replace the Polyethylene micro beads are either natural or naturally derived ad biodegradable. The work has now been completed and by the end of 2015 all formulas were being made without the use of Polyethylene micro beads".
Products with NO Microbeads -
Konjac Sponge - The Konjac Sponge Company have lots of different sponges for different purposes (face, body and even dogs) made out of Green Clay, Pink Clay, Red Clay, Charcoal, Pure Konjac and Chamomile (lots of different sponges for different skin types). These sponges are a GREAT exfoliant, they are a solid - almost rock hard sponge until water is added. I have used these sponges for over a year now and I love them. Price wise they range from £8.99 to £14.99, they last for 3-4 months, they are fully biodegradable and safe for the environment - so very ecological! All these products are Cruelty-Free International and The Vegan Society certified.
Living Naturally - As you will probably know I have so much love for this brand, they have used the naturally derived Soapnut and produced so many fantastic products from it. They do two body scrubs - Organic Vanilla & Grapefruit Coffee Scrub and Organic Cardamom & Lavender Sugar Body Scrub (both of which I have). It costs £10 for a pot of this scrub and it lasts for ages. These guys are also cruelty-free and certified by The Vegan Society and all their ingredients are ethically sourced, plus their packaging (including the lids) are completely recyclable.
The Body Shop - As I mentioned above this company has now gone completely Microbead free so you can go all out with their scrubs with no fear of hurting the environment. The Body Shop are also Cruelty-Free International certified.
Superdrug - This is the most accessible source for cruelty-free and vegan skincare on the highstreet. All of Superdrug own brand is certified by Cruelty-Free International almost all of their products are suitable for vegans (there are only a few things I have come into contact with that are only suitable for vegetarians, including the Sensitive Sun Cream and some of their own Hair Dyes) and thankfully these are all very clearly labelled on the back of all Superdrug products. Two great scrub products that I like are the Vitamin E Sugar/Oil Body Scrub (the scrub elements are Sugar, Sea Salt and Walnut Shell Granules) and Cherry & Macadamia Body Scrub (the scrub element is Apricot Seeds).
ECO by SONYA - This is an Australian brand that does a huge range of skincare products, my favourite by far is the Pink Himalayan Salt Scrub. ECO by SONYA are certified Toxic Free, Organic, Cruelty-Free, Vegetarian and the majority are Vegan (the only ingredients that make a few of the products non-vegan are beeswax).
Burt's Bees - I'm seeing Burt's Bees in more and more shops which is great, they are Cruelty-Free International certified so it's great these products are getting more mainstream. They do a Peach and Willowbark Deep Pore Scrub, the scrub is made from finely ground Peach stone (which makes for a very thorough exfoliant). Burt's Bees products do have Bees Wax and Honey in so it's up to you how you feel about that, but as I say they are certified cruelty-free and so do not test their products on animals.
By 2050 there will more plastic in the Ocean than Fish, that is madness. Everyone can reduce their plastic footprint. Check if the bottle/tub is recyclable (or think if you could use it for something after) and if the product contains plastic - put it down!