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Ban the Bead

Keeping microbeads out of our waterways

Pick up almost any tube of body wash, facial cleanser or toothpaste that promises a deep, scrubby clean and you could be washing with plastic.

Those scrubby plastic bits are called microbeads. Billions of these tiny plastic particles are washed down drains every day, and since they’re too small to be filtered out by water treatment systems, they end up in our waterways where they’re wreaking havoc on the ecosystem.

Microbeads never biodegrade, and remain at the bottom of lakes, rivers and oceans until they’re consumed by marine life. They also act as sponges, soaking up toxic chemicals from the water around it. Once ingested, those toxins can pass into the tissues of fish and other marine mammals, eventually ending up in our food chain.

The Campaign

In June 2015 our #BanTheBead campaign educated the public about the dangers of microbeads in our marine ecosystems, and about the safe, natural exfoliants that can be used in place of microbeads. In partnership with 5Gyres Institute in the United States and Ottawa Riverkeeper in Canada, we encouraged our customers to sign petitions asking for legislation limiting the use of microbeads in cosmetics.

We also created a limited edition body scrub called Life’s A Beach made with naturally exfoliating sand. 100% of the purchase price was donated to our campaign partners to further their work in protecting our waterways.

The Outcome

Through the sales of Life’s A Beach we raised $200,000 for 5Gyres Institute and Ottawa Riverkeeper.

In December 2015, just a few short months after our campaign, US President Obama signed the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 into law. The Canadian government added microbeads to a list of toxic substances under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act in June 2016. And as of July 2018, the sale of shower gels, toothpaste and facial scrubs containing plastic microbeads will be banned. 

Follow our partners for the latest news on microbead legislation!