Glitter seems to be a holiday staple. Unfortunately, glitter isn’t sustainable! Learn how to keep your holiday sustainable and bright, without the glitter.
Who doesn’t love a little bit of sparkle in their holidays? Shiny bobbles, dresses, Christmas crackers, wrapping paper, and cards all seem to have a plethora of the stuff. And it gets EVERYWHERE. We all know it’s impossible to get rid of glitter once it’s in your home. Well, the same goes for our waterways and environment. Did you know that glitter isn’t sustainable? Avoiding the sparkles could possibly be the easiest you can do this year to create a more sustainable holiday celebration!
It’s All Just Plastic
So, glitter isn’t sustainable. How? Conventional glitter is made of plastic. It has a small PET core, is covered with aluminum, and coated with more plastic. Glitter plastic comes to us as microplastics and eventually gets washed down our drains, into our local water systems. This is a problem. Microplastics disrupt plant and algae growth, causing their numbers to be far below normal levels! Not only that, but some invasive species thrive in their presence, further weakening our ecosystems!
With microbead bans well underway, news outlets are turning their attention to this hidden plastic source. Several companies, such as Lush, have already phased out conventional glitter, opting for “biodegradable” sources or natural mica. Both of these solutions are, still, unsustainable. Biodegradable options just break down into smaller pieces; they never fully disappear and studies demonstrated they still disrupt ecosystems in the same way as conventional glitter. Mica, while the truly natural and biodegradable option, has serious ethical concerns. It usually comes from illegal mining operations, which have little regard for sustainability and often use slave and/or child labor. Not much better, to be honest.
The Scale of the Problem
Being honest, glitter is not the major cause of microplastic pollution. It accounts for less than 1% of microplastics found in our environment. The sparkly stuff becomes a bigger concern with larger events, such as music festivals and large New Years celebrations. Smaller applications, like your makeup, are much less damaging and have a smaller environmental impact (just wipe off your glittery makeup and toss it in the bin; don’t wash it down the sink!). It may not be the biggest concern, but leaving it out of our celebrations is an easy change we can all make for a more sustainable holiday season this year!