On December 4 2017, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a ban on the use of microbeads — tiny pieces of polyethylene plastic, less than five millimeters long and utilised in a majority of wash-off products, sold and manufactured in New Zealand.
When we practice self care with plastic-containing products, we, often unknowingly, practice minimal care towards our sea life — those creatures arguably more vulnerable to their environment than ourselves. Like alternate forms of plastic, microbeads can have extremely harmful effects on marine and aquatic life. In the ocean, sea animals mistake microbeads for food, absorbing or eating them in replacement of their normal nutritional sources. This can cause them to starve or fail to mature as usual, both of which can be fatal, particularly in a competitive feeding environment. The implications don’t stop here. Once ingested by fish, microbeads continue their journey along the food-chain. As humans at the top of this chain, we are likely to be consuming this variety of microplastic in our own food. Using product with microplastic is antithetical to Plantae’s philosophy of self care being of paramount importance.
The microscopic size of these plastic beads means that they cannot be recycled nor do they biodegrade. The only solution, of which the Labour Party’s ban appropriately acknowledges, is to halt their use in the first place. While its introduction as of May (as opposed to an original date of effect in July) will be an initial and progressive step for our nation’s environmental footprint, it’s not all — nor is it enough. UNEP research shows that more than the common microbead, of which 10,000 tonnes is utilised yearly across the globe, a plethora of alternate microplastics play the same damaging role in our personal care products like; Polypropylene, Polyethylene terephthalate, Polymethyl methacrylate, etc. These micro plastics easily hide behind name like the above that are difficult to read and hard to pronounce.
Plantae Skincare has submitted all of our raw materials to the international NGO: Beat The Bead. As a result, Plantae has received the 0 microplastics stamp of approval, confirming that all products within our range are 100% free of plastic and free of harm to aquatic life and ultimately human health. For the team at Plantae, it is deeply rewarding to see both attention towards and action being taken against the issue of microbeads in New Zealand. It is our intention, however, to not only realise the issue in its full depth, and to act accordingly ourselves, but also to encourage that others do the same. An investment in Plantae Skincare is as much one in yourself, as it is one in the environment, in sea life and in positive change.
For more information about microplastics and to check if all your personal care products are plastics free please visit Beat The Bead’s website: