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What Happens When Products Go Down the Drain?

Do you ever think about what happens when you wash your products off and they go down the drain? Makeup and personal care products can contain synthetic chemicals that eventually make their way to the ocean when you wash them off or dump them down the drain. Not only are you potentially causing harm to your own health but also the environments.

How is it harming the environment?

Yes, when products make their way into waterways it is very diluted and dispersed throughout large bodies of water. But the chemicals can bioaccumulate over time, some never degrading. Waste water treatment was designed to target human waste and food, it can target chemicals as well but there are thousands of unregulated chemicals that are able to pass through.

Once down the drain it will eventually end up in the ocean where it can contaminate fish and other tiny organisms. Then other animals, including us, eat the contaminated fish. If organisms lower on the food chain start to be negatively affected the result will be a major ecosystem shift potentially reducing our food sources and livelihoods surrounding these species.


  • MicroBeads: This is one example where legislation was actually put in place to reduce the use. Remember those tiny plastic beads in many exfoliating products? These greatly contributed to plastic pollution in the ocean and was harming wildlife -- thankfully Canada and the US have taken efforts to stop the use of micro-beads in personal care products. Legislation can help but these products can still be bought so education and awareness is VITAL!
  • Titanium Dioxide: Used as an UV filter or whitening agent in personal care products. It has been found to severely affect phytoplankton - whom are responsible for producing a large amount of the earths atmospheric oxygen. 
  • Parabens: A chemical preservative found in personal care products. You might recognize this one as well, many products and companies are riding their products of parabens. It can be a major hormone disruptor that affects many different marine and terrestrial species. 
  • Triclosan: An anti-microbial agent. It has been found in large quantities in the Great Lakes where it is negatively impacting the freshwater species. 

What can you do?

As consumers, we can make the conscious decision to use products that wont compromise our health or the environments -- taking a preventive method rather then trying to reverse the damage. Want to disposes of your products sustainably? Contact your local Household Hazardous Waste Facility!


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