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  • Writer's pictureRichard

Good News for a Change: The UK Bans Microbeads

Updated: Jan 13, 2018

The longest journeys start with a single step. It's only a start, but still worth celebrating: a ban on the use of plastic microbeads in cosmetics and other products has come into effect in the United Kingdom (from January, 2018). It joins the Netherlands, United States and Canada. In our view it is deplorable and tragic that such a product was ever allowed in manufacturing in the first place. Yet, performing experiments on the natural world (underestimating our ignorance) is a common theme in the history of humankind. Perhaps the most well-known example of this pattern is DDT.

This step by the UK is to be commended, however an expansion of the ban should clearly be a priority for the world community. Why are microbeads a problem? Well, they do not disolve for one thing. They add notably to the estimated 5-9 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean. Upon entering the food chain, cumulatively, these small pieces of plastic can have devastating effects on wildlife.

Who cares? (Some non-ecologically minded people might say.) We all should. Just on a purely selfish level, it will be difficult for anyone to enjoy their next meal of fish, knowing they are potentially consuming clusters of tiny plastic beads. (It may also well contain elevated levels of heavy metals such as mercury, but that's another topic.)

So, let's at least acknowledge that we seem to be on the right path with banning products and substances known to be damaging to the environment. Undoubtedly, though we need to pick up the pace. Or, our appetite may well be undermined for good.


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