Jul 21 2016

The Dangers of Ignorance

Published by under Student blog entries

Last year, December 2015, President Obama passed a bill that officially banned micro-beads in the United States (Imam, 2015). The purpose behind this bill was to protect the waterways of the country since water filters were unable to catch the minuscule exfoliating beads as they traveled through the underground sewage network.

Some cheered for this victory in environmental protection and others were disappointed by the discontinuation of their favorite skincare products. I, on the other hand, was just surprised because I had never even thought that my hand soap or face-wash could have a negative environmental impact. I was ignorant. In hindsight, it was clear that the beads were not good for the natural environment since they were plastic and non-biodegradable.

Though micro-beads are now banned, there are still plenty of everyday products that we use without thinking that damage the home that we are trying so hard to maintain and protect. If you use either sunscreens, moisturizing lotions, lip balm, lipstick or other similar cosmetic products then you might be playing a part in the death of around 3 million sharks a year (Lima, 2016).

In the liver of these deep sea sharks is an organic compound called Squalene. Squalene is coveted and utilized by the cosmetic industry due to its softening effect and non-greasiness (Lima, 2016). Some companies have switched over to the more sustainable plant-based Squalene, but not all have done this since plant-based Squalene is more expensive (Yeomans, 2012). Due to the demand for the cheaper shark-based Squalene, shark populations are taking a hit from being hunted for their livers (Lima, 2016).

There are several simple things that we can do in order to make sure that we do not play a part in the shark hunt.

  1. Read the labels! If the labels do not specify where the Squalene originates from then call and ask the supplier.
  2. Share the news and do not buy products from suppliers that support shark liver harvesting.

Just as environmentally damaging products and actions may sometimes be as obvious and big as an oil spill, they can also be as small as the micro-beads that used to be in most face-washes. It is up to us to be aware of the things we are using and their implications. Ignorance should not be an excuse in this day and age.


  1. Imam, Jareen. “Microbead Ban Signed by President Obama.” CNN. Cable News Network, 31 Dec. 2015. Web. 20 July 2016.
  2. Nima, Natalia. “Is Your Makeup Killing Sharks?” ENN. Environmental News Network, 30 June 2016. Web. 20 July 2016.
  3. Yeomans, Michelle. “Squalane: What Some Suppliers May Not Be Telling You…” CosmeticsDesign-Europe.com. N.p., 23 Nov. 2012. Web. 20 July 2016.

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