Your shower-time faves may be getting a big makeover soon. It's really good news.

Microbeads are doing bad things to our world, friends.

They are tiny little pieces of plastic that companies have been adding to soap, toothpaste, and all kinds of products to give them a texture (think "exfoliating body wash") as well as take up space, requiring less actual product in the same size container.



GIF from The Story of Stuff.

But there was a huge problem: Wastewater treatment facilities usually can't filter microbeads out of the water supply. They are ending up in rivers and lakes, where the tiny plastic particles accumulate and wreak havoc. They are even being found in fish. And one container of face wash can have up to 350,000 microbeads.

Microbeads add up over time, and they aren't biodegradable. Image by Oregon State University/Flickr.

They might be tiny, but collectively, they can have a huge, negative impact on the environment.

John Calvelli, an executive vice president of public affairs at the Wildlife Conservation Society, puts it into perspective.

"In New York State alone, 19 tons of microbeads are washed down the drain every year. They collect pollutants such as DDT and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and then become part of the food chain when fish mistake them for food," he said.

In fact, they are so clearly detrimental and unnecessary that members of both political parties in Congress co-sponsored The Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 to ban them, and it easily passed in both the House and the Senate in December 2015. It's set to be signed by President Obama in the coming weeks, and it's a hopeful indicator that there are still things that the government can work on together without polarization.

So pretty soon, your personal products may be a bit different.

Your face wash, your body scrub, your dish soap ... assuming the new law is signed and goes into effect for manufacturers in July 2017, we'll be finding new formulations after that when we pick up our trusty standbys at the store.

That could mean no more sparkly little green things in your toothpaste or at least a different type of sparkly little green thing.


GIF from "Arrested Development."

But don't fret, aficionados of squeaky-clean, exfoliating goodness. There will still be natural solutions for your favorite products to turn to, using organic matter like seeds and coffee to slough off the day.

Now you'll be able to feel better about your products as they swirl down the drain and carry some hope in your heart because our Congress proved they can still work together. That's worth getting in a lather about!

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Anne Hebert, a marketing writer living in Austin, TX, jokes that her closest friends think that her hobby is "low-key harassment for social good". She authors a website devoted entirely to People Doing Good Things. She's hosted a yearly canned food drive with up to 150 people stopping by to donate, resulting in hundreds of pounds of donations to take to the food bank for the past decade.

"I try to share info in a positive way that gives people hope and makes them aware of solutions or things they can do to try to make the world a little better," she said.

For now, she's encouraging people through a barrage of persistent, informative, and entertaining emails with one goal in mind: getting people to VOTE. The thing about emailing people and talking about politics, according to Hebert, is to catch their attention—which is how lice got involved.

"When my kids were in elementary school, I was class parent for a year, which meant I had to send the emails to the other parents. As I've learned over the years, a good intro will trick your audience into reading the rest of the email. In fact, another parent told me that my emails always stood out, especially the one that started: 'We need volunteers for the Valentine's Party...oh, and LICE.'"

Hebert isn't working with a specific organization. She is simply trying to motivate others to find ways to plug in to help get out the vote.

Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

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Yesterday I was perusing comments on an Upworthy article about Joe Biden comforting the son of a Parkland shooting victim and immediately had flashbacks to the lead-up of the 2016 election. In describing former vice President Biden, some commenters were using the words "criminal," "corrupt," and "pedophile—exactly the same words people used to describe Hillary Clinton in 2016.

I remember being baffled so many people were so convinced of Clinton's evil schemes that they genuinely saw the documented serial liar and cheat that she was running against as the lesser of two evils. I mean, sure, if you believe that a career politician had spent years being paid off by powerful people and was trafficking children to suck their blood in her free time, just about anything looks like a better alternative.

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It's been four years and Hillary Clinton has been found guilty of exactly none of the criminal activity she was being accused of. Trump spent every campaign rally leading chants of "Lock her up!" under the guise that she was going to go to jail after the election. He's been president for nearly four years now, and where is Clinton? Not in jail—she's comfy at home, occasionally trolling Trump on Twitter and doing podcasts.

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Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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The harm done with racist humor isn't just the emotional hurt they can cause. When a group of white people shares jokes at the expense of a marginalized or oppressed racial group, the power of white supremacy is actually reinforced—not only because of the "punching down" nature of such humor, but because of the group dynamics that work in favor of maintaining the status quo.

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With the election quickly approaching, the importance of voting and sending in your ballot on time is essential. But there is another way you can vote everyday - by being intentional with each dollar you spend. Support companies and products that uphold your values and help create a more sustainable world. An easy move is swapping out everyday items that are often thrown away after one use or improperly disposed of.

Package Free Shop has created products to help fight climate change one cotton swab at a time! Founded by Lauren Singer, otherwise known as, "the girl with the jar" (she initially went viral for fitting 8 years of all of the waste she's created in one mason jar). Package Free is an ecosystem of brands on a mission to make the world less trashy.

Here are eight of our favorite everyday swaps:

1. Friendsheep Dryer Balls - Replace traditional dryer sheets with these dryer balls that are made without chemicals and conserve energy. Not only do these also reduce dry time by 20% but they're so cute and come in an assortment of patterns!

Package Free Shop

2. Last Swab - Replacement for single use plastic cotton swabs. Nearly 25.5 billion single use swabs are produced and discarded every year in the U.S., but not this one. It lasts up to 1,000 uses as it's able to be cleaned with soap and water. It also comes in a biodegradable, corn based case so you can use it on the go!

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