The neutral color of the packaging with the green flower and the leaf in the upper corner make this product look pretty eco-friendly. The statement “Active Naturals” under the brand name gives you a good feeling about buying the product. At first glance, you would definitely think this is a green product thats good for the environment and good for your skin. At second glance, you’ll see that the product contains “gentle microbreads.” If you are unaware of what microbeads are or the effects of them on the environment like I was when I used to use this product, you wouldn’t think twice about the green goodness of this face scrub.
Microbeads are tiny balls of plastic in cosmetic products that are used to exfoliate skin. These beads are not biodegradable and they end up in our waterways. According to Newsweek, just 1% (which is 8 trillion microbeads) of the microbeads discharged in a day can cover over 300 tennis courts. This 1% makes it to the ocean. The other 99% ends up in sewage sludge which is often used as fertilizer that is sprayed on crops and runs off with rainwater, eventually winding up in the oceans with the other 1%. Here, the toxic microbeads are eaten by aquatic animals. As of December 2015, plastic microbeads have been banned in the U.S.
On their webpage Johnson & Johnson responded to the Aveeno microbead issue. Here they state that they were one of the first companies to start removing them from their products and planned to completely remove them from all products by 2017 and have already met their 2015 goal. They clearly have to remove the microbeads a little sooner than 2017 now, but kudos to them for taking the initiative before it was law to do so.
The packaging commits the Sin of Vagueness of the seven sins of greenwashing with its phrase “Active Naturals”. What is natural about this product? Certainly not the tiny balls of plastic that exfoliate your skin “gently” while harming the environment.