Are you willing to give up glitter for our oceans? If you are a confetti and glitter fan, I bet I caught you in two stools.
On the other hand, if you have received a handful of glitter-filled birthday cards, you might know just how annoying glitter can be. It sticks to everything and is impossible it to pick off, and now scientists are warning that the environment is just as averse to the sparkly stuff as we are.
Confetti and glitter are omnipresent materials bombed for picture-perfect graduation or wedding, dabbed on artworks, and crucially used to make Christmas ornaments.
Through natural causes or garbage dumping, these vibrant nanoscopic pieces are washed down and enter the oceans. Although recent bans on plastic bags and microbeads in the United States have restricted the use of plastics, our oceans contain a profusion of similar plastics. Glitter is one of the 800 tons that contribute to marine pollution.
All Over The Environment And Us
Wikipedia defines glitter "an array of tiny, reflective particles that vary in shapes and colors." Trisia Farrelly, a Massey University environmental anthropologist, and political ecologist clarified that glitter comprises plastic and aluminum bonded with polyethylene terephthalate (PET). PET can disintegrate and release chemicals that disrupt human hormones. She confirmed that glitter leaks into daily things in our lives including the water filtration systems.
Glitter is a material used in numerous cosmetics and self-care products. For instance, shower gels, eyeshadows, and lipsticks incorporate glitter. Glitters, as mentioned before, are basically microplastics, plastics that measure less than five millimeters in length, found throughout the surface to the deep sea floor. As glitter is used in cosmetics, people apply it, then wash them away- making glitter's purpose to be disposed of.
Fancy Topping or Chancy Toxic?
One of the latest food trends is edible glitter- those brilliant ingredients added in beer, donuts, and even gravy.
As these are progressively becoming viral via social media, people start concerning if they include any toxic chemical.
While regular glitter is composed of plastic and metal, edible glitter is mainly made up of soluble food.
Alternatives To Harmful Glitter
The amount of glitter that escapes our environment is still unknown. "We do have general evidence of accumulation of microplastics and their harms, but there is no sufficient evidence specifically on glitter," said Richard Thompson, a marine biologist at the University of Plymouth in Britain.
"About one-third of the 500 fish we examined in the English Channel contained microplastic particles in their bodies but zero glitters were found," he added.
Luckily, there are non-plastic, biodegradable alternatives to glitter. Nontoxic glitter used for crafts is one example, but they are indeed different from edible ones. LUSH, a cosmetics company, is leading the path by using mica-based pigment in their products since the start of 2018. LUSH bath bombs, shower jellies, and other glitter products are eco-friendly as guaranteed.
Yes, there are steps being taken to shift the focus on glitter, but since severe harm of glitter is plausible, we still need to be wary of the shiny material.