Would you rather clean your refrigerator or the ocean?

Mary Duggan

By Mary Duggan

One. I love Maritime culture. Two. I am proud to make environmentally sound personal care products. Three. I live for being in the water: anything from my bathtub to the ocean. Four: I love seeing women doing really important and interesting work. So you can imagine my delight when I read that one of the Tall Ships converging on Chicago just a few weeks ago was here doing really important environmental research on microplastics in our waterways and lots of the scientists involved are women. And you guessed it, while the topic is complex and layered, one of the catastrophic delivery systems for microplastics to our waterways is through toxic personal care products. 

SAIL close up 3 sisters

We had only been in Amsterdam a matter of minutes when Clare whisked us off to Sail 2010. The arrival of the tall ships in Holland is stunning. Even when you are seriously jet-lagged and slightly nauseous from travel – the call of the tall ships prevails.

The U.S. Brig Niagara is collecting samples to measure the levels of microplastics in Lake Michigan. The consequences of these plastics have implications not only for the waterways themselves but also for the people who live nearby. And here is what caught my attention as a maker of personal care products. Plastics pollution is insidious. Did you realize that some exfoliators contain beads made of polyethylene – a type of plastic? That’s right folks, you could be a major contributor to pollution by using a product containing plastic. You shower using an exfoliating bath gel. You go to the beach and swim. You leach shower gel with plastics. Fish eat the plastics. It looks like food -but it isn’t. The fish starve to death. It has to stop. Oversimplification? Hardly. This Tribune piece is informative and alarming.

SAIL orange ribbon ship

Orange ribbons cascading salute the Dutch House of Orange.

Scientists are making real inroads with their call to eliminate plastics from the world’s oceans. Johnson & Johnson is promising to no longer develop products containing plastic microbeads. A good start. But everywhere I go I see products currently on the market and you can see the beads, or “pearls” as they are frequently called; so much vigilence must be brought to the topic. Recently at the end of a work-out I noticed that the liquid hand sanitizer the facility offered contained visible microplastics. Yikes. Due diligence can never be turned off.

sail annie wheel

Women need to be encouraged to answer the call to adventure in their own life. Annie certainly did and still does!

Tall ships spark the imagination. They are deeply romantic and shout adventure, intrigue and yes – danger. I am so delighted to see young women actively participating in maritime arts – and not just on the docks awaiting the return of their love. We’re always being called upon to clean up. Why not clean up the oceans? Wouldn’t that be more fun? Women and science and exploration and adventure go naturally together. Sail on Professor Sherri Mason and all the science ladies of the Tall Ships!

SAIL best ship photo


Mary Duggan is Co-Founder and President of the Duggan Sisters.

The Duggan Sisters cracked the code and created a natural deodorant that actually works: lifestinks.  And that was just the beginning. We hope you will spend a few minutes exploring duggansisters.com to experience their spirited approach to wellness through their natural products and healing stories.

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