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BEST declares war on microbeads

In anticipation of the upcoming visits by Plastic Tides and 5 Gyres, two of a number of organisations that are working actively on the issue of microplastics and microbeads in the world's oceans, the Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce has joined with members of the community to launch its own campaign — Beat the Bead Bermuda.

BEST is urging consumers to “choose to refuse” to purchase any personal care products containing microbeads or other plasticisers. A letter has also been sent to local organisations that import, distribute or sell personal care products, asking for their participation in this effort to stop making any of those products available for sale on the Island.

BEST describes Beat the Bead Bermuda as a campaign to avoid a few toxic ingredients in personal care products that are damaging the Island's ocean, water and food supply.

The worldwide use of plastic in the consumer goods market has been exploding since 1948, so much so that plastic, one of the most durable, man-made substances, is now being used for throwaway goods. The result is that the disposal of plastic has become a nightmare, both for Bermuda residents and for the environment. Plastic could easily sit in a landfill for thousands of years without decomposing, but what is particularly worrying is that much of the plastic waste is clogging up the oceans and waterways, breaking down into tiny micro-particles that bind to other chemical pollutants to create pieces of highly concentrated toxic waste.

One source of these micro-plastics is the microbeads that are put into many common personal care products, including facial washes and even certain toothpastes. These tiny particles of plastic are hardly visible to the naked eye but flow straight down bathroom drains into sewer systems or cesspits and, ultimately, into the ocean.

Wastewater treatment plants are not designed to filter them out and, not being biodegradable, they end up in the ocean, sooner or later. Mistaken for food, these particles are ingested by marine life and travel up the food chain. Humans sit at the top of that food chain, so we are not just poisoning the environment; we are poisoning ourselves. What's more, microbeads are now being considered an emerging issue for groundwater pollution, which means they could potentially make their way from Bermuda's cesspits to contaminate important freshwater lens. The good news is that there are alternatives such as maca root, sugar or sea salt products that could be — and are — used in personal care products to act as exfoliants.

There are many groups working to find solutions to this impending environmental disaster. As part of the global family, Bermuda has a role to play. BEST has adapted the “Get Plastics Off My Face and Out of Our Waterways” campaign created by 5 Gyres and is requesting that residents do not purchase any personal care products that contain plastic microbeads or the following plasticisers: polythene, polypropylene, polythene terephthalate, polymethylmethacrylate, nylon.

An app has been created at www.beatthemicrobead.org/en/ so that anyone with a smartphone can check if a personal care product contains microbeads and/or plasticisers.

BEST is also urging those persons who import, distribute and/or sell personal care products in Bermuda to “choose to refuse” to import, distribute or offer those offending products for sale. This has the power to greatly help by getting them off Bermuda's shelves and, ultimately, out of the ocean.

For more information and/or to get involved, call BEST on 292-3782, e-mail beatthebeadBermuda@gmail.com or visit the BEST Facebook page.

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Published April 24, 2015 at 1:40 pm (Updated April 24, 2015 at 1:40 pm)

BEST declares war on microbeads

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