Plastic is everywhere, and we are pretty used to seeing it in plates, phones, furniture, and just about everything else.  But have you ever considered plastic in soaps?  Many shampoos, body washes, hand soaps, and toothpaste contain microbeads, tiny pieces of plastic often used as an exfoliant. But these deep cleansing plastic pieces are harmful to the Earth and its organisms.  

In personal care products, microbeads are usually around one millimeter in size, making them easily go down the drain. But this also means that the beads are not filtered out of the sewage system, ending up in lakes, streams, and oceans. Sherri Mason, an associate professor at the State University of New York found “up to 1.1 million plastic particles per square kilometer” in the waters of Lake Ontario.  

Apart from the countless numbers of products using microbeads, the plastic does not decompose.   Instead, they break down into smaller pieces, resulting in even more minuscule pieces of plastic in Earth’s bodies of water.  Microbeads are also similar in size to fish eggs, and many marine animals mistake them for food.  Microbeads absorb toxins, and when animals eat them, they ingest the toxins and chemicals taken in by the microbeads too.  These tiny pieces of plastic don’t only affect marine life and ecosystems, but also people like you and me.  Many of the fish that are affected by the plastics are caught and eaten by humans, and when the human eats the fish, there is a high possibility that (s)he is also digesting the chemicals absorbed by the microbead.  So in a sense, when we clean and exfoliate our bodies, we are also poisoning our bodies.  Cleanliness is important, but is it worth damaging the environment, animals, and ourselves?


Works Cited

Corley, Cheryl. “Why Those Tiny Microbeads In Soap May Pose Problem For Great Lakes.” NPR. NPR, n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2016. <>.

“Plastic Microbeads: They’re Bad. But Together We Can Stop Them.” The Story of Stuff Project. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2016. <>.

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November 29, 2016 9:57 pm

Great job! I thinks this is a topic that many people don’t think about, so thank you for writing about it. Have you heard of any ways that people are trying to clean the ocean or stop plastic from entering it?

November 22, 2016 2:58 am

This is a really informative and well-written article. I’ve never fully understood the environmental impact of microbeads up until now. However, did you know that the use of microbeads in cosmetics as of last year was banned in the US? I remember reading a similar article the day this law was officially passed by the House of Representatives, and maybe this is when you first learned about the dangers of microbeads. If you are interested in politics, you could possibly expand on your essay by discussing the effectiveness of the laws prohibiting microbeads.

November 22, 2016 1:05 am

Many people do not take into account the effect our beauty and health products are having on the environment, but your post makes it apparent that it is an issue. Your evidence and style make the topic relevant to the environmental issues of today. I think you should think about the different methods to remove plastic from the ocean, like the invention of Boyan Slat in his Ted Talks called “How the oceans can clean themselves: Boyan Slat at TEDxDelf”

November 22, 2016 12:22 am

Great topic! I had no idea that microbeads were found in soaps and what not. This was a very insightful essay and it certainly raised my awareness. Ever heard of the Pacific garbage island? It’s an island of trash larger than Texas that is very harmful to wild life. Well done!

November 21, 2016 11:32 pm

I think that this is a great topic to write about since this problem if not addressed will only get worse. If enough people talk about this issue and put their heads together. But I do’t know of any solutions for our plastic problem so if you can do an other post about a solution I would love to see it.

November 21, 2016 11:27 pm

I completely agree! Nice evidence backing up your statements. If you want to delve even further into this topic, here is an article concerning the “plastic islands” polluting our oceans:

Heidi Huntsman
November 21, 2016 11:19 pm

I completely agree! Nice evidence backing up your statements. If you want to delve even further into this topic, here is an article concerning the “plastic islands” polluting our oceans:

November 21, 2016 3:02 am

Dear Naomi,
I would like to start off by saying that your piece on Cleaning and Killing is a great research article and I enjoyed it because it educated me on this specific topic that I didn’t know about. I would also have to agree with you in the fact that plastic is everywhere and we should really should take some consideration in what we are doing to our planet. Nice job!

November 20, 2016 7:57 pm

I really enjoyed reading this I agree plastic is a big concern for the world, one thing I would suggest to make it stronger would be to include more data and resources so you could make your claim more concrete.

November 20, 2016 7:54 pm

Naomi, this is a really great topic. I never even considered the harm body wash and cleaning materials would have on the environment in the big picture. This post really makes me aware of what I am using in my daily life. I agree that it is very important that we always keep the environment in mind. This was an extremely informative post. I really enjoyed it. Nice job!

November 20, 2016 7:32 pm

I really like the content. Environmental concerns really strike home with me. Your grammar is solid and the piece is well organized. The only suggestion I have is to make the conclusions stronger. Summarize your strongest pieces of evidence and maybe suggest ways to circumvent this issue. Well done!

November 19, 2016 9:45 pm

Great topic! Plastic is such a huge threat to our environment and something really needs to be done about it soon.

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