California to Remove Plastic Microbeads in Personal Care Products

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The 5th grade class at Mount Madonna School is requesting the removal of plastic micro-beads in personal care products like face wash and toothpaste to be replaced with natural alternatives.

What are microbeads?  Microbeads are tiny balls of plastic, usually smaller than 1 mm about the size of a piece of sand. They are used in personal care products like your shampoo, face washes, hand soaps, sanitizers, body wash and toothpaste to help scrub your teeth and your skin clean.

Why are microbeads a problem?-  The problem is when we use products with microbeads, they go into the drain, and they can’t be filtered out. They enter the water like streams, lakes and the ocean and attract toxic and dangerous chemicals like DDT and PCBs and MORE. The fish think the microbeads are food, and they eat the toxic plastic. The microbeads move up the food chain, and end up on your plate. Not to mention it it hurts all of the animals along the way like the orcas which we are studying this year.

Why not biodegradable microbeads? Last year's 5th grade did a science experiment and proved that any biodegradable plastic (stuff made from corn or potato or stuff like that)  takes really high heat to compost it. Our oceans don't get to 120-130 degrees Fahrenheit so the beads would still be in the waters causing harm to ecosystem. There are bills to ban microbeads but they have exceptions for bio-plastic... supporting those types of bills really won't help the problem.


  • There are about 365,000 microbeads in a 4.2 oz bottle of face wash, which means about 2,000 microbeads each time you wash.
  • In Lake Erie 90% of the plastic is microplastics, and in Lake Michigan 17,000 bits of plastic per square km.
  • Microplastic has been found in EVERY ocean, bay, gulf, and estuary of the world.
  • These microbeads are adding to the 46,000 pieces of plastic per square mile in the ocean.
  • Coral is dying from eating microbeads and coral supports so much life!
  • Not to mention we swallow the microbeads, they get stuck in our gums, and cause infection if they get in cuts.

Alternatives? There are simple and safe scrubbers without using plastic like using ground up seeds, shells, salts, sugar, baking soda, rice, bamboo or other natural ingredients. We can have clean skin and teeth and keep the water clean. With these easy type of scrubbers we can get rid of microbeads and we can keep this plastic out of the ocean and out of endangered marine life and our food.

**This petition was written by students using research reports and information learned through a larger project focused on the orcas of the Monterey Bay.**

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