Thank Illinois for Banning Plastic Microbeads in Cosmetics


Target: Illinois Governor Pat Quinn

Goal: Thank Governor Quinn for protecting aquatic life from plastic contaminants

Illinois has just become the first state to successfully ban plastic microbeads. These harmful synthetic granules are a common ingredient in many soaps and skin care products and have been found to be ubiquitous in wetlands and waterways, clogging up sewer lines and endangering wildlife. The new law bans the manufacture and sale of all such products by the end of 2019.

Recent research on the prevalence and effect of microbeads on the Great Lakes ecosystem found that there were, on average, over 17,000 tiny bits of plastic per square kilometer of water in Lake Michigan. This is enough to have serious consequences on the environment, but pales in comparison to the 1.1 million bits per square kilometer found in Lake Ontario. The non-biodegradable particles are the same size as many fish eggs, making them small enough to get through sewage system and water treatment plant filters, but large enough to be mistaken for food by fish and other aquatic species. Since the microbeads are made of petrochemicals, they can leach toxins, which then make their way through the food chain and ultimately back to humans. The plastics have also been found to soak up chemical pollutants and transfer them in a similar way.

While Illinois is the first state to outright ban microbeads, similar bans are currently making their way through the legislature in both New York and California, and lawmakers have introduced the idea in Ohio and Minnesota as well. The importance of clean water and healthy waterways cannot be overestimated. Illinois’ law could eventually be the basis for a nation-wide ban on this toxic and unnecessary product. Thank Governor Quinn for his proactive regulation.


Dear Governor Quinn,

Plastic microbeads are an absurd and needless source of harmful water pollution in the Great Lakes and across the U.S. Illinois’ ban is a much-needed positive step toward entirely eliminating plastic waste from our environment. Your emphasis on clean water and healthy waterways should serve as an inspiration at all levels of government.

Hopefully the rest of the country will soon follow your example. Thank you for leading the charge to eliminate this toxic pollutant in our water and protect aquatic life from its deleterious effects.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Gentlemanrook via Flickr

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