California knows that the tiny plastic microbeads that are often found in various hygene products are a big part of the pollution problem. It was just last year when a study released showed that the plastic contaminants that were in the ocean were by and large, tiny, almost microscopic pieces of plastic that couldn’t possibly be weeded out without cutting down on the plastic waste. That’s why the California State Assembly has placed a strict ban on products that contain these tiny beads. The beads are used as “exfoliators,” and are inexpensive versions of what would otherwise cost significantly more to produce naturally.
Scientists and lobbyists though have been quick to point out that it isn’t solely due to these microbeads that oceans are filled with plastic. In fact, it was made clear that 38 tons of plastic pollution is created each year that is moved through water treatment plants in California. This is why the change is so necessary. It’s important to work to stop this now before the problem grows even more and the burden on the system is even greater.
Mark Murray, who is the executive director of Californians Against Waste pointed out that, If a manufacturer tried to dump 40 tons of plastic pollution into the ocean, they would be arrested and fined for violating the Clean Water Act.” He went on to point out that, “These cosmetic and soap makers are doing the same thing on a daily basis with billions of plastic microbeads washed down millions of drains. Enough is enough.”
The point is that there are natural alternatives, like fruit pits, and much more, which can be used for the same purpose and avoid the massive amount of waste. Johnson & Johnson have begun halting the use of these plastic beads. Now that California has made this kind of move, many are wondering what it will mean for other states. Democratic state Assemblymember Richard Bloom pointed to a tipping point that was coming, and said that the issues need to be addressed before it becomes too late.
He said of the change in policy that, “Toxic microbeads are accumulating in our rivers, lakes and oceans at alarmingly high levels. Continuing to use these harmful and unnecessary plastics when natural alternatives are widely available is simply irresponsible and will only result in significant cleanups costs to taxpayers who will have to foot the bill to restore our already limited water resources and ocean health.” At this point it’s important to understand the scope of the situation, and as many have laid out – there are a wealth of issues facing Earth. This is just one of the smallest and simplest ways that we can have the biggest impact possible on helping Earth regain itself, and begin cracking down on what was so long ago.
Many believe that this is the first example of this situation being dealt with swiftly, powerfully, and without any reservation. It will be interesting to see how other states react. There is a very good chance that this is not something that will remain exclusive to California.