Beauty Store Business

AUG 2016

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22 August 2016 | beautystorebusiness.com into effect until 2018; so there is still a lot of work to be done. THE PUBLIC Unfortunately, most people still have no idea about the microbeads issue. Even in California, where we had media and messaging and a bill pass, I can't tell you how often I'm speaking to a crowd of people, and the majority of the audience hasn't heard about this—and they're shocked. They say, "Wow, I thought these were made out of apricot kernels or ground-up walnut shells. I had no idea." They're especially shocked when they find out that microbeads are in toothpastes. So there's a lot of work to be done on educating consumers. Until the law goes into effect, there are hun- dreds of thousands of these products on shelves and in people's homes. If we continue using them, we're talking about trillions upon trillions of plastic microbeads going down the drain and into our water bodies. Unlike making changes in plastic bags or plastic bot- tles, this is a really easy one. It doesn't affect people's convenience. There's an easy alternative—you can just swap [the microbeads] product out with one that uses natural alternatives, such as jojoba beads, sugar, salt, apricot kernels, [walnut] shells—or a loofah! The real work needs to be in getting the word out through influencers, through celebrities, through media articles, through continu- ing to message to people about this— that they have the power to make an easy choice right now that will protect the environment and their waters. Are those the avenues that 5 Gyres has been using to get the word out about this to consumers? We've been working on formulating a next-stage campaign to educate people. We rolled out the campaign in May with a few simple tools. We developed a toolkit for people to both take action personally and also to share this with their friends and family and commu- nity via social media, and that sort of thing. We have an art installation that Marcus worked on that we unveiled at a big influencers party at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival to try and engage more millennials. So we want to be using various mediums to get the word out to people. As far as the toolkit, where are you distributing it? It's a digital kit on our website [5gyres. org]. So, it has things like a PDF on how to make your own scrub, a label that people can print out to mail their microbead products back to our office, and forums for engaging people directly through webinars to build community and develop leaders. We've been passively mentioning the mail-back idea to people on our website; but we haven't yet pro- moted that—and week after week, we get boxes of scrubs and toothpastes from people who are sending them back. So, that's really one of our goals, to get people to A) commit to not buy these any more in the next few years; B) to take the products they already have and get them out of circulation; and C) to create a community of leaders who are engaged to take further action. This would be a great in-store action for retailers as well—to have a collection box in-store, where people can drop off their microbead products and swap them out for [nonmi- crobead] products, perhaps at a discount. This could create more customer loyalty and get people coming into their stores. And we are happy to take the beads back. We'd love to engage with any retailers interested in trying this! How is 5 Gyres disposing of the tubes it's receiving from consumers? We're actually filtering the beads out from the product and using those as a visual—so using them in the art project that Marcus has built, or putting them in vials to use as visuals to show peo- ple. We've had volunteers filter through tubes and tubes and tubes of these, and it's really powerful when you can show people what they actually look like. You've mentioned some beauty products that contain microbeads. Are there any other beauty products that use microbeads that people ought to be aware of? It's mostly facial scrubs, body scrubs, body washes and even some shaving creams and toothpastes. The thing I want people to be aware of is to read ingredient labels; so that people can recognize which products have micro- beads in them. And that anything that says polypropylene or polyethylene are the most common ones. There are other cosmetics that contain nanobeads, which are so small they can't even be detected by the human eye. They are smaller than the grooves on your fingers, and are used as fillers for wrinkle creams, lotions and cosmetics. The law that went into effect doesn't yet cover those because they are not considered "rinse-off." An exfoliant or scrub or toothpaste is something that Beauty products using microbeads: "Mostly facial scrubs, body scrubs, body washes and even some shaving creams and toothpastes." Images courtesy of The 5 Gyres Institute

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