Those microbeads in your face wash are bad news.

The United Nations warned this week that more than eight million metric tons of plastic end up in oceans each year,”wreaking marine wildlife, fisheries and tourism, and cost at least $8 billion in damage to marine ecosystems.” If present trends continue by 2050, oceans will have more plastic than fish if present trends are not arrested.

And those microbeads found in cosmetic products like face wash, toothpaste and hair gel? The UN Environment Program says they are a major contributor to the some 51 trillion microplastic particles floating around the world’s oceans. That’s about 500 times more stars than are in our galaxy.

The UN environment program launched a new campaign yesterday to draw attention to this problem. The #CleanSeas campaign seeks to “turn the tide on plastic” by raising public awareness and soliciting government pledges to take on this problem. The USA and Canada have already banned microbeads, and countries like Indonesia have pledged to dramatically reduce the amount of plastic dumped.Uruguay e will tax single-use plastic bags later this year. In all, the UN says some 10 countries have joined the campaign.

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