Today, Toronto’s City Council agreed to support a motion brought forward by Councillor Paul Ainslie urging the provincial and federal governments to ban the use of microbeads, tiny pieces of plastic found in personal care products.

With this motion, Toronto joins a growing list of environmental, industry, and government advocates calling for a ban on microbeads. When people wash their faces or hands with products containing microbeads, the beads end up going down the drain. The beads are so small that they bypass most wastewater treatment plants and go straight into the water.

Unlike in Canada, a number of U.S. states have already passed legislation to ban the beads and groups in the U.S. are using this momentum to push for more bans.

The situation has gotten pretty bad in the Great Lakes region. Scientists have found millions of microbeads in parts of the Lakes. The highest concentration was found in Lake Ontario with counts of up to 1.1 million plastic particles per square kilometre.

Plastic-polluted waters often mean plastic-filled fish and wildlife. This can be dangerous because the plastic absorbs dangerous pollutants such as PCBs and PAHs, which are already present in the environment. When the fish eat the plastic, they too absorb these chemicals.

It’s clear that it’s time to eliminate plastic microbeads from products. Not only are they damaging our environment, they are totally unnecessary—there are lots of natural products, including apricot shells, jojoba beans, and pumice, that can exfoliate skin.  With plastic clean up costs for the Great Lakes estimated to be $486 million, we’re paying a lot more for face wash than we think.

Plastic does not belong in our water. It’s time for the provincial and federal governments to pass bullet-proof laws that stop companies from adding any kind of plastic to products designed to end up in our lakes. These laws should come into effect as quickly as possible.

Are you fired up? Take Action!


  • Sign our petition – Ask the Ontario government to pass a law banning the use of microbeads



  • Spread the word – Most people still don’t realize that plastic is in the products they use every day.