Whilst glitter comes with a sense of nostalgia and fun, it is also getting a terrible rep at the moment for how damaging it is for the environment. A large proportion of glitter products are made from plastic bi-products, which can cause huge issues for marine life. When glitter is washed into drains, it adds to the ever-growing problem of microplastics, which are then consumed by marine life such as fish, birds and plankton.

A study carried out last year found that microplastics have even reached the deepest point in the ocean, which is a huge cause for concern. Scientists, environmentalists and fashion lovers are campaigning for the substance to be banned, but why?

Glitter Is a Microplastic

When people typically think of glitter, they imagine dress up and party glitter, but one which people don’t tend to think of is glitter which is used in cosmetics. During scientific research, most glitters were found to contain or derive from PET, which can then break down and release harmful chemicals which disrupt animal and human hormones.

Since this discovery, many brands have since started to take action. As most cosmetic glitter goes directly into our waterways when washed off or removed, the focus was on creating something which would dissolve or which wouldn’t be harmful. Now, many glitters are made from cellulose, which comes from plant cells, and this new glitter now fully dissolves in water over time.

Changing Consumer Behaviour

Demand leads to supply, and a fail-safe way of tackling the glitter problem was to change the way in which consumers thought of and used glitter. Over the past few years, many brands have either stopped using glitter or instead replaced the glitter that they used. Lush very quickly replaced the glitter in their products with a biodegradable substitute and the main supermarkets committed themselves to fully remove any glitter from their products.

But what about events and festivals? Concerts and festivals, in particular, have long been reliant on their glitter use, with many attendees wearing facial glitter or buying props and souvenirs adorned in it. Last year, 61 music festivals in the UK said that they would now ban festival goers from wearing glitter, due to the damage it does the land the festival is held on. Luckily, with biodegradable glitter now so readily available, attendees don’t need to change their makeup ideas too much!

Long Term Effects

There have been recent petitions in the UK for glitter to be banned altogether following a study which found that a third of fish that had been caught in the North sea contained particles of micro-plastics. We don’t really know what long-term effects or damage glitter will have on our planet, children and animals and this is highly disturbing.

Banning microplastics in the UK would be a step in the right direction and would work at sending a message to other countries who are also sharing the same concerns. We now need to do everything we can to stop plastics from polluting the environment and decrease our use. Every piece of plastic ever created is still around now and decomposing, leaking harmful chemicals into our planet, so we need to do this as soon as possible.

Author's Bio: 

Zack is a freelance writer with a particular focus on sustainability and eco-friendly living. Whether you’re looking for a new meditation method or some facts on plastic pollution! In preparation for a festival, he is currently loving trying out different sustainable festival glitter ideas.