Several states have already passed legislation to limit or outright ban the manufacturing or sale of plastic microbeads in personal care products.

With many personal care industry companies supporting legislation, as well as a national law, the question becomes what alternatives can be used. After all, people still need to use soap or other exfoliates to get clean.

According to a statement from the Personal Care Products Council, some alternatives are already being used by companies.

The Personal Care Products Council stated the personal care products industry is currently substituting "synthetic materials with a number of environmentally friendly natural bead alternatives, including those made from beeswax, rice bran wax, jojoba waxes, starches derived from corn, tapioca and carnauba, seaweed, clay and other natural compounds."

Industrial soaps using natural ingredients, such as pumice stone or walnut shells are also available.

Jennifer Caddick, engagement director of The Alliance for the Great Lakes, Chicago, also noted some of the alternatives to using microbeads.

"It just doesn't make sense to have this plastic in our products when there are so many easily available alternatives," she says. "We know some manufacturers are reworking their products to use ground almonds or oatmeal, hummus or other natural things that will give that same abrasive quality that people want in their facial scrubs but not be harmful to the environment."

She called it a commonsense step to phase out microbeads.

For Del. Dan Morhaim, a member of the Maryland House of Delegates who sponsored legislation to phase out microbeads from products in his state, the cooperation from both sides of the aisle, as well as the affected industry and environmental groups has helped advance the issue.

"It's not always that you have the industry that's being regulated and environmental groups coming together on an issue, but in this case we were able to do so," he says. Jonathan DePaolis is a freelance writer based in Frankfort, Illinois.