Glitter is alluring for many reasons, because who doesn’t love the shimmery pizzazz it adds to everything from makeup to arts and crafts projects and decor items. However, the reality behind glitter is not a glamorous as you might think. In fact, it is actually very damaging to the environment for several reasons. It starts with the production of glitter and goes all the way to its post-production persistence. Here’s why you might want to consider alternative options when it comes to your decor.
Since glitter is mostly made up of small bits of plastic, it is considered to be part of the microplastics issue. Microplastics are so small they’re able to get into the environment through drains and pollute our waters, which is dangerous to marine wildlife. The food chain is then disrupted, as we consume the seafood that itself is already contaminated with these microplastics.
Microplastics like glitter are a huge problem because they are not biodegradable and they continually break down, gaining the ability to pollute more and more ecosystems over time.
When glitter pollutes bodies of water, toxins that are used in glitter’s production also contaminate the waters, with horrific consequences to marine life. Sources of drinking water then become contaminated as well, causing damage to our health as well.
Glitter that gets into terrestrial ecosystems also causes damage there as well. It can destroy the delicate balance needed in soil health, which impacts how plants grow, crops included. Of course, crops watered with contaminated water are also damaged, further highlighting how everything is all interconnected and potentially magnifying the damaging effects of microplastics.
Glitter found in body lotions and makeup can make their way into the air, adding even more pollution into the air we breathe. The worst part of all of this is that the long term implications are not yet clear to us as not enough research has been done, but most researchers agree that it is likely that the consequences will be quite damaging.
So what can be done about all of this? While governments surely need to step in to curb the mass production of plastic products, you can also pitch in by buying biodegradable glitter that has been developed. Made from plant-based cellulose, this glitter is able to actually break down without causing more damage to the environment. While the brunt of the responsibility lies in the hands of those in charge, every little change helps.