Eco Glitter – Undoing the Damage

Sparkles are a part of the holiday season, but all that glitters is not gold.

Glitter has been identified as a non-biodegradable nightmare, similar to that of microbeads, which hit headlines over the past year.

It’s hugely popular for people to wear at concerts and parties, as well as for kids events and present wrapping and presentation. Many Christmas ornaments also come covered in the stuff, and it’s only in the wake of the microbead crisis that people are starting to pay attention to it.

A report in The Independent has even gone as far as to call for a ban on glitter, highlighting its detrimental effect on our oceans where, like most of our garbage, it ends up.

Stephen Cotton, a British scientist who’s created ‘a pioneering eco-glitter made from eucalyptus tree extract and aluminium‘ spoke to the BBC recently about the issue: “A ban on microbeads is coming into force in the UK next year – but there’s still a lot to do,” he said. “A lot of people think that the glitter wouldn’t be as durable because it’s biodegradable. It feels softer because there aren’t harsh plastics used in the process.”

Science and Technology site Quartz followed up the article with further analysis of the problem:

Most glitter is made of a combination of aluminium and a plastic called PET, making it every bit as much of a microplastic problem as microbeads. Glitter that serves as an ingredient in “rinse-off” cosmetics (like shimmery moisturizer, for example) will be covered by the UK’s ban, according to the UK regulatory agency, but the types of craft glitter beloved by school children and pride parades alike won’t be.

“That stuff is going to escape down the plughole and potentially enter the environment,” Richard Thompson, a marine biologist at Plymouth University, said. “I think all glitter should be banned, because it’s microplastic,” Trisia Farrelly, an environmental anthropologist at Massey University, added.

So, what are the alternatives? Well, a quick search online will provide you with many options, but here are a few which we at My Good Planet found to be actively working to help promote and support a more sustainable and plastic free future:

Eco Glitter Fun was created by ‘two festival loving party animals, whose mission is to bring responsible sparkles and plastic pollution awareness to the world.’ Their product contains a minimal amount of plastic, but their ‘biodegradable glitter is made from a certified biodegradable cellulose film. This means that once it has been used to make the world a more glittery place, it will safely biodegrade, causing no harm to Mother Earth.’

Eco Stardust are another company working to reverse the damage done by the disposal of cheap, environmentally damaging glitter. Another pack of party animals, the creators were fans of the sparkly stuff, until they clicked that it wasn’s all fun and games. “Once we realised we were covering ourselves and the world in little bits of plastic it took the sparkle out of it for us, therefore we started our mission to find an alternative and this is how EcoStardust Biodegradable Glitter came about.”

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Using only sustainable sources, Glitter Revolution are also trying to change the way in which people think about glitter. as well as working with non-profit organizations that are dedicated to addressing the global crisis of plastic pollution.

Additionally, Bio Glitz use only fully biodegradable, compostable products which contain no GMO products and aren’t tested on animals.

So, the message is don’t stop using glitter, just choose it wisely, especially with the holidays just around the corner. Together a difference can be made.

Paula Mulvanerty
Paula Mulvanerty

Paula Mulvanerty is a writer and busy mom of two who lives in the idyllic West of Ireland. Committed to living a natural, sustainable lifestyle, she is one of the driving forces behind My Good Planet's Product Focus, which sources and highlights ethical, environmentally-friendly items worth sharing with the world.