Some years ago, soap companies began putting plastic exfoliating beads into body wash in hopes of greater profits and smoother skin. Since then, billions of plastic beads have polluted our waterways and poisoned fish. Illinois has become now the first state to take a stand against the beads.
The Illinois bill, signed into law Sunday, will ban the manufacture of products with the microbeads by the end of 2018 and the sale of them by the end of 2019. New York and California legislatures have considered similar state bans.
The plastic beads—found in face washes and toothpastes as well as body wash—soak up toxins in the water, which are then absorbed by fish who mistakenly eat the beads for food. And the beads almost impossible to remove because they're so small; filtering them out means filtering out plankton, too. We wrote about the problem of plastic microbeads a few months ago—read all about how awful they are below.
Top image: Plastic pieces found in Lake Erie. Credit: 5 Gyres Institute