It is the season to sparkle. But you might want to do it without glitters this year. Glitter is everywhere it seems. In makeup, on ornaments, on people´s hair, on clothing. It´s fun and people think of parties and good times when they see glitters.

But glitter may not be as innocent as it seems. Some scientists have called for it to be banned because of its environmental impact, like Sherri A. Mason, the geology and environmental sciences department chairwoman at the State University of New York in Fredonia. Most glitters are microplastics, little pieces of plastic that are less than 5 millimeters (see also our blog on microbeads to read about the problems with microplastics). The impacts of microplastics on humans is still an area of research, but fact is that they are pretty much everywhere. The microplastics themselves cause problems, but also the chemicals they absorb along the way.

So maybe we should not be using glitter during the holidays. "Yes, there are going to be pains associated with reducing our use of plastic, but we have to think beyond ourselves," Mason said. "This isn't about your New Year's celebration. It's about humanity, and our ability to survive as a species."

One other option is to use biodegradable glitter, like the one made by Bioglitz, Eco Glitter or Wild Glitter.  Biodegradable glitter and traditional glitter differ by how it decomposes, not by how it looks. "Plastic glitter will take hundreds of years to decompose, and most glitter, because of its size will end up in the ocean and in fish. But with [eco]glitter little micro-organisms found in places like soil and in the ocean will eat it over a period of months and that's how it breaks down," says Sophie Awdry, co-founder of Eco Glitter Fun.


The Sydney Morning Herald