Should Glitter Be Banned?

Glitter is often used to decorate, but it is very harmful to the environment. Should it be banned?

via Flickr

Glitter is often used to decorate, but it is very harmful to the environment. Should it be banned?

Since 1934, modern glitter and confetti have been used to provide the sparkle and flare “needed” in the air for almost any celebration, but afterward, they are left as litter on the ground. This has lead to a controversy over the use of this product.

Glitter is made of a polymer known as Mylar and, typically, has a diameter of about a millimeter which makes it a microplastic. In 2014, researchers estimated that 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic weighing a total of nearly 270,00 tons are in the ocean and, despite bans on plastic bags and microbeads, 800 more tons of plastic being added every year. What’s startling is that 92.4% of all this plastic litter are microplastics.

Glitter is a product made to use for minutes even though it lasts for centuries. It proves to be a significant problem in products that apply glitter to skin and are disposed of by getting washed off in the shower. Everyone knows that glitter can go anywhere— even in fish, it seems. A 2012 study in Great Britain found that out of every three fish, one fish had ingested microplastics as the size of these plastics appear to be food to fish and other marine life. When glitter reaches the ocean, any organism can drink this water containing plastic as these plastics are too small to be filtered out. And if these fish are eaten by humans, they can ingest plastic chemicals.

Not everyone hates glitter, it’s just that glitter isn’t used in the most environmentally friendly way. Even the U.S. Air Force used it. The purpose that glitter was used was to drop it out of warplanes to confuse enemy radar. It’s just that environmentalists and researchers think something else should be sprinkled for shine.

The issue is that 65 percent of all plastic is made for single use which is a significant issue that needs to be solved before the situation worsens anymore.  It doesn’t mean that people don’t have to choose between some sparkle and guilt of littering. Retailers have made biodegradable glitter as a replacement. The replica of these environmentally harmful plastic particles is made with eucalyptus extract metalized with a thin layer of aluminum and colored for sparkle. One reason consumers may not use biodegradable glitter is that it’s biodegradable. The reason why it feels softer is that this alternative isn’t made of harsh plastics which means it will not melt off faces when it meets hot temperatures.

Plastic glitter decomposes throughout hundreds of years and, before then, ends up in the ocean and fish. However, this environmentally friendly alternative meets a different end. When is washed down the drain, it will be eaten by micro-organisms located in the soil and ocean in months to be broken down.

Hopefully, consumers will purchase this “eco glitter” to the point where the original formula for glitter will be replaced entirely. This alternative is an obvious solution to the problem of plastic litter that leaves humanity one step closer to saving their planet.