A startling report reveals that upwards of 8 trillion individual pieces of plastic waste enter marine ecosystems every day, posing an enormous threat to the world's aquatic wildlife.
If your soap contains “microbeads,” or tiny spheres of plastic advertised as exfoliants, the majority of these bits are making their way down the drain and into the world’s oceans. And according to a report rom Discovery News, the 8 trillion bits of plastic entering aquatic ecosystems daily are posing a serious theat to marine life.
Some of the plastic pieces are smaller than a grain of sand, intended to help scrub away dry and dead skin. They slip right through most filtration systems, and ultimately are washed downstream into the oceans.
The biggest problem with plastic in the ocean is that it doesn’t biodegrade past a certain point. While tiny fish and crustaceans filtering plastic microbeads from the water is bad enough, once they break down into their chemical component, the plastic molecules simply remain floating forever.
A new study quantifying the amount of plastic being dumped into the oceans was commissioned by 7 separate institutions. According to the study’s lead author, Chelsea Rochman, “We’ve demonstrated in previous studies that microplastic of the same type, size and shape as many microbeads can transfer contaminants to animals and cause toxic effects.”
Numerous states across the U.S. have already passed legislation to limit the plastic that manufacturers can add to their soap, but various loopholes continue to allow the scourge on marine environments.
Major cosmetics companies such as Johnson and Jonson, L’Oreal, Colgate-Palmolive, Proctor and Gamble, and Unilever have all taken steps to remove microbeads from their products, but they continue to appear throughout the world’s oceans.