Tuesday, 13 September 2016

beautifish or rub-a-dub

The UK government made a laudable decision last week, in favour of the environment, mostly unnoticed and quite unilaterally (which kind of makes me wonder if Britain were still in the EU if it could have done so without extensive consultation—and regardless, it would surely be better if the whole bloc enacted this ban) pledging to prohibit the use of plastic microbeads in cosmetics.
In response to a petition championed by several environmental organisations and voluntary-industry action, the tiny plastic beads which for whatever reason were introduced to toothpaste, soaps and facial scrubs (instead of salt or diatoms, I suppose—microscopic fossils of plankton that used to do the scrubbing) will be totally phased out by next year. Although it is disturbing enough that one’s morning shower eventually floods the oceans with billions of tiny particles that enter into the food-chain and never go away, there’s an even more dismaying aspect to consider: though far from inconsequential, the plastic beads are rather harmless in themselves (at least relatively less so for marine life that macro-sized plastic pollution) being inert. That characteristic makes the beads a magnet for the other nasty things that man puts in the seas. Most artificial toxins are hydrophobic and could latch on to the beads and bring more chemicals into the ecosystem. I hope Britain’s stance goes global.