In case my blog name and Instagram didn’t give it away, I love marine life. I love fish, I love cetaceans, I love weird deep-sea creatures and sharks. I want to be hugged by an octopus with all eight of their arms, and I think shrimps are cute. That’s why we really need to talk. You’re killing my friends.
I mean, you’re not doing it on purpose but you probably are.
Have you ever heard of microplastics? It’s pretty self-explanatory; microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic matter that come from litter and industrial waste, and are subsequently ground down by the motion of the ocean. Lots of microplastics come from eroded shopping bags and other things people throw into the waterways. These microplastics get into the gills and guts of fish with deadly consequences. A study of fish in the English Channel found that one in three fish were carrying microplastics in their system.
Now, I’m not accusing any of you of being litterbugs, I’m sure you have far better manners than that.
However you could still be contributing to the problem. How, you wonder?
Glitter roots, bath bombs and facewash. Yes, really.
The glitter roots trend is kind of a marmite thing, you love it or you hate it. Even those who have tried it have admitted that it’s a bugger to wash all that shiny stuff out. But what they might not realise is that they are effectively rinsing a bunch of fish poison into the drain every time. The best way to try this trend without hurting marine life is to use edible glitter. If you really want to use plastic glitter then try and brush it out instead of washing, and consider using a plug filter when you wash your hair.
Bath bombs containing glitter or sequins have the same effect. But don’t worry, you don’t have to throw out all of your Lush goodies just yet because this is where it gets interesting. Lush recognised the danger of microplastics AGES ago and are instead using only edible glitter in their products, which is great. Crack on with your Experimenters and your Yogas, you can bathe with impunity. However some other brands will still be using plastics and should be avoided if you want to keep the oceans clean. Take a look at the packaging; my policy is if you can’t be sure then give it a miss.
And, finally, facewash. In particular I’m talking about exfoliants. All of those lovely face and body scrubs boasting about their high-tech “microdermabrasion beads” might make your face feel all silky smooth but they’re also choking octopuses. Any scrubs you use are washed off your face, down the drain and into the waterways, carrying the little plastic pieces with them. Don’t despair, not all exfoliants contain plastic beads so you won’t need to go all scaly for the sake of our fishy friends (see what I did there?) Just make sure your scrubs have naturally-derived ingredients like salt, sugar, nut shells and apricot stones. There are plenty of these available at all price points, though if you want to make sure you’re using all-natural ingredients you can very cheaply make your own with a mix of any oil (coconut is lovely) and brown sugar.
There are so many ethical concerns and questions surrounding beauty products, and this is one of the least publicised. One more way you can help is by signing this petition to prohibit the use of plastic beads in all cosmetic products in the UK.
So, from a mermaid to you, please stop putting plastic in the sea. The fish will thank you, and so will I!
Update: Microplastics have been banned in cosmetics in the UK as of January 2018!