That may seem a strange question but bear with me. The holiday season us synonymous with all things glittery. What would Christmas be without liberal heaps of glitter on cards, ornaments, gift wrap and even makeup? But, here I will now repeat my opening question. Did you know that glitter kills fish … and dolphins … and other marine life. Yes, glitter can kill Flipper!
Now, I don’t want to spoil your holiday season and tell you not to use glitter but as someone who believes very strongly in marine conservation who also has a passion for whales and dolphins, I need to share this disturbing news with you.
Glitter is a pollutant. It is actually a plastic (or aluminium foil) and therefore, takes hundreds of years to decompose. Because of its size, it ends up in the ocean and inside fish and other marine creatures. I will admit, this is a controversial subject. Various studies have shown that microplastics enter the ocean’s food chain and impacts in ways such as, humans consuming fish who have eaten microplastics and killing fish before they reach reproductive age, thereby depleting future fish stocks.
Like all these environmental issues, the truth is extremely difficult to pin down because for every study that proves detriment, there is another to refute it. My view is though, if it is an unnatural entrant to an environment, it is pollution and therefore adds further to the damage we continue to inflict on our beautiful planet.
There are good reasons to use environmentally-friendly glitter.
Let me quote some figures:
Sources say 8 million tonnes of plastic ends up in our oceans every day. Microplastics (pieces that measure less than 5mm) make up 85% of this. Even if these statistics can be shot down, just a small fraction of these amounts are enough to be of concern.
When you think about it, are bits of glitter any different to microbeads? These are a controversial item too, so much so that microbeads are being banned in the UK from 2018. If microbeads damage the environment, then it is logical that non-biodegradable glitter does too.
So, is this a call for you to stop using glitter? Hell no! I already mentioned that Christmas needs glitter. Where would elementary school collages be without glitter? And how boring would festival makeup be without swathes of glitter?
However, if you do care about the environment and want to make your own small bit of difference, you might like to consider switching to environmental-friendly glitter. Lush products for example do not use plastic glitter. A pioneering British company produces Bio Glitter which is made from eucalyptus tree extract and aluminium. Ecoglitterfun sells guilt-free sparkles from their Etsy store and the Gypsy Shrine sells really fun glitter cosmetics including mermaid and unicorn options. Just search online because there is more non-plastic glitter available than you might imagine.
If you want to be sparkling and not add to the ocean’s problems this Christmastime, please use eco-friendly glitter.