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Microbeads= trillions of tiny mistakes

Microbeads are tiny plastic particles which can be found in various everyday products we use. Although exceptionally small, they are causing future problems for the environment and our own personal health. These tiny pieces of plastic are contained within various products that we use regularly in our daily lives, such as facial scrubs, including body washes, exfoliators, toothpastes, and other cleansing products.

Microbeads have been designed so they can be easily flushed away, resulting in trillions of them washing into our rivers and oceans. Once there, they absorb dangerous toxins that are in the water around them - soaking up industrial chemical pollutants such as oil or pesticides.

Fish and other sea creatures mistake these plastic particles for food, and by eating them, these dangerous toxics enter into their systems. Men then catch (and consume) fish, thus ingesting all these harmful toxics themselves. Although tiny, they are providing the vehicle for these toxins to enter our food chain, en masse.


Following the UK Government’s plan for a national ban on microbeads , it is crucial that we work towards preventing the plastic waste issue before it reaches the water. As public concerns about the issue grows (Obama in the US has signed into law the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015) , and parliaments around the world debate how to tackle the problem – is Romania going to follow?

Awareness campaigns about the issue will of course generate more knowledge of the problem but, as suggested by Dagevos (Plastic Soup Foundation, 2016) , ‘We need to incentivise people to discard waste responsibly.’ Increasing awareness amongst adults will get them talking, but will it be enough to change their attitudes? Promoting responsibility amongst adults will of course prove challenging, but working with children is an effective way to ensure that the next generation learn about how to look after our environment – and it just becomes part of their everyday living. As Dagevos (2016) further discusses, ‘It could take, maybe three generations to stop the plastic waste issue…’ It will take time and effort, but teaching these next generations should be seen as a priority.

Initiatives such as ‘A Future Without Rubbish’  work to provide a solution to this problem and implement a longer-term strategy. A strategy where we aim to educate the younger generation – helping to break society’s bad habits by working with children at a time in their lives when they are discovering for themselves what is right, and what is wrong. Plastic has become a necessity in our lives. When used safely it can be very useful, but it is important that microbeads now act as a constant reminder of what ‘goes around, comes around.   We must act now to ensure the safety of our future generations.  

Governments, businesses, communities and initiatives need to combine their efforts. We need to work together to solve these problems. It is time to clean up our act and take responsibility for our actions. The first step in this is surely to become more educated about the consequences of our actions.

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