Glitter contains microplastics that are ready to be released into the environment
Plastic is the main component of glitter, and because plastic does not degrade easily, you can find almost all of it. It’s likely that the glitter you used to decorate your Xmas tree a decade ago still exists. It’s possible that it is still trapped in your carpet or keyboard or has been eaten by you or your pet. It may have found its way to the ocean.
Glitter can be used in many ways, including to decorate clothing and arts and crafts. It is also widely used in cosmetics. Glitter is microplastic, not just shimmering and sparkling.
It gets everywhere. It’s not all harmless glitz. You should avoid glitter at Christmas for five reasons:
This prevents recycling
Glitter is not biodegradable, and it’s a contaminant. Glitter can make products you would normally recycle, like wrapping paper, unrecyclable.
Many councils in the UK have issued guidelines on festive waste to remind households not to put glittery or shiny Christmas cards or wrapping papers into recycling bags. You could end up with your recycling at your door if you put glittery or shiny Christmas cards in the bags.
No longer recyclable. New Africa / Shutterstock
There is no way to distinguish between glittery wrapping papers, biodegradable glitters, or sustainable glitters at the recycling point. It’s better to put it in your regular waste bin than the recycling bin. There are also concerns that “eco glitter” can cause the same damage to our oceans as traditional sparkle.
Fish is food
Plastic glitter is a large, clumpy substance that will eventually find its way into rivers, lakes, and oceans. Marine life mistakenly believes that the floating particles are food. This has a significant impact on oyster reproduction rates. Other animals become less active and less responsive to predator signals, making them more likely to get eaten.
In addition, microplastics are increasingly found in the human body. In one study, it was estimated that people ingest and inhale more than 100,000 pieces of plastic every day. Plastic glitter is one source of microplastics that can be eliminated.
The glitter is made from plastics PET and PVC, which are then covered with synthetic materials to give it its shimmer. The chemicals used to make the glitter can harm human health.
Microplastics are found in the food chain.
Microplastics are found in Xmas cards and party crackers, as well as decorative baubles. According to a growing body of research, microplastics end up on our dinner plates. Plankton and other marine animals eat it, and then the microplastics pass through our food chain to reach us.
Microplastics attract other toxic pollutants and can add an extra layer of contamination. This could make its way into our food, up the food chain.
Glitter can be dangerous because of its small size.
It is argued that due to its ubiquitousness and small size, glitter is more harmful than other microplastics. Glitter, which is already a type of microplastic, can easily contaminate soil, water, air, and food. It is widely available and ubiquitous in nature, and washing it down drains only ends up in the sea.
research conducted earlier this year found that even a small amount of glitter could impede the growth and development of organisms that play an important role in the water and soil cycle.
Although restricting plastic glitter in the UK is only a small step, it is a significant one in tackling the microplastic issue. Morrisons, a leading UK retailer, should be commended for taking a stance against glitter and becoming completely glitter-free.
It’s obvious that avoiding or banning glitter won’t reverse the extinction crisis or save the climate. If we want to save our planet, then no step is too little.