Banning the Microbead

In May of 2015 I came across a NY Times article that struck me, titled “Fighting Pollution From Microbeads Used in Soaps and Creams.”  In an instant I began to see the face scrubs and toothpaste tubes in my own house as threats to our marine life.  Prior to reading this article, I didn’t see how a problem could arise from minuscule tiny beads that exfoliate our skin and scrub our teeth clean.  After reading, I began to realize just how many people use these products, and where all these plastic balls went after we use them.  They’re too small to be filtered out of our drains, and so they head right into the ocean, where they are consumed by fish; the same fish we catch and eat.  At the end of the day, no one can make the argument that we NEED these microbeads for exfoliating our skin and brushing our teeth. Maybe the CEOs of Colgate, Neutrogena, and Crest can find an argument, but a little legislation can set them straight.


Microbeads Cartoon
Microbeads Cartoon

You may have heard that the Obama Administration has recently banned plastic microbeads in our products. CNN sums it up nicely here.  So, how will we clean our pores now? When I found out about this issue back in May, I did what any worried consumer might do– I refused to continue buying products with microbeads. Instead I made my own soaps and toothpaste. I put leftover coffee grounds into my homemade soap to substitute the microbeads. I continue to use my coffee exfoliate soap and feel much better using a product that will decompose underwater and pose no threat to our marine life.

Here are the ingredients and proportions for my coffee soap:

    • 4 oz Canola Oil
    • 4 oz shea butter
    • 8 oz Coconut Oil
    • 8 oz Olive Oil
    • 0.5 oz Vitamin E
    • 8 oz Hydrogenated Soybean Oil (Crisco)
    • 3 oz coffee grounds
    • 12 fl oz Water or strong coffee
    • 4.5 oz Lye (sodium hydroxide)

(I strongly suggest doing your research before attempting to make soap. You must be very cautious when working with Lye!)