Spring Street International student Lily Compton gave a presentation to the San Juan County Council regarding a ban on microbeads on Monday morning, Nov. 6.
“There are 5.25 trillion pieces in the ocean,” she said.
This number amounts to 8 million metric tons. There are 269,000 tons floating on the water’s surface. Microbead made from a type of plastic, polyethylene, found in soaps, cosmetics, and exfoliants, among other products, are tiny, toxic, often colorful beads eaten by fish, which then end up on human dinner plates.
“You don’t want to eat plastic every time you eat fish do you?” Compton asked.
She went on to explain that during a trip to Jackson Beach with her school, she found over a 100 beads in 20 minutes.
These beads impact other marine animals as well, including shorebirds and whales.
“I understand coral reef creatures eat them?” Council member Rick Hughes asked.
“Yes,” Compton said, adding that while there are federal laws it is beneficial for counties to have their own bans. Erie, New York she said, has strong microbead legislation that San Juan County could look to as an example. Compton gave a copy of Erie’s regulations to the San Juan County Clerk to the Council Ingrid Gabriel.
“Thank you very much, Lily, we will look into this,” Council members Bill Watson and Rick Hughes said.
To find out more about microbead regulations visit https://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/GuidanceRegulation/LawsRegulations/ucm531849.htm
To see what products may contain microbeads, visit http://www.beatthemicrobead.org/product-lists/