The World Is Drowning in Plastic. Here’s How It All Started

In the early 2010s, brands began phasing out the plastic microbeads they’d been adding to toothpaste and face scrubs to boost their scrubbing power. Some of these products contained hundreds of thousands of microplastics, which washed off of your face and out to sea. It turned out that consumers weren’t particularly happy when they realized what was happening—President Barack Obama made that displeasure into law by signing the Microbead-Free Waters Act in 2015, four decades after microplastic scrubbers were patented in the cosmetics industry.

“In that bill, it was only for wash-off cosmetics, and that was mostly the facial scrubs,” says Marcus Eriksen, cofounder of the Gyres Institute, a nonprofit

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