Is Glitter Destroying the Environment? Here’s Why Some Scientists Say It Should Be Banned

Not all that sparkles is gold for the environment.

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As parents, we have a love/hate relationship with glitter. You can’t deny that the sparkle makes life a little brighter and no doubt that kids love it too. It’s a must-have childhood craft ingredient, but it’s messy as all can be. Once you break the glitter out, it’s impossible to clean it all up, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to see it sparkle for the next month all over your house. As much fun as it is, it turns out scientists are pushing to have it banned. No, not because they’re siding with the parent’s hate for it, but for a much more serious reason. Scientists say glitter is terrible for the environment—here’s why.

The main argument boils down to the ingredient that makes up glitter – plastic, specifically a polymer called polyethylene terephthalate (PET), or better known as Mylar. These microplastics account for 92.4% of the total 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic floating around in the ocean. Researchers also say that given the size of these glittery microplastics, to marine life and fish, it looks like food particles. Studies have found that many creatures of the sea are choosing to eat plastics over their typical diet – and it’s having a negative effect.

Given the attention that’s been brought to how many plastic straws pollute the oceans, which is estimated to be as many as 8.3 billion plastic straws around the world, it’s not surprising scientists are urging us to look at glitter use as well.

“I think all glitter should be banned because it’s microplastic,” Dr. Trisia Farrelly of New Zealand’s Massey University told CBS News in 2017, and there have been significant changes taking place since. There is already a partial-ban on glitter in place in the United States, Canada placed a ban on microbeads in 2018, and the United Kingdom’s ban took place this year. While this is definitely a start in the right direction, scientists say there is still that needs to be done.

“There is a need to change the way plastic is viewed by society: from ubiquitous, disposable waste to a valuable, recyclable raw material, much like metal and glass, says the Royal Society of Chemistry. Adding, “It’s hoped this will increase the economic value of plastic waste in a circular economy.”

Now, if you’re a real fanatic of glitter and can’t imagine the sparkle being removed from your life forever, all is not lost. Thankfully, there are companies who are working to give us all the best of both worlds filled with a healthy environment and all the sparkle. Products like BioGlitz, which has a “unique biodegradable formula” for their glitter is safe for the oceans, and EcoGlitter has over 50 shades of biodegradable glitter to choose from.

It’s more important now than ever that we’re choosing products that are safe for the environment. Switching to a biodegradable glitter allows you to keep the fun in your life and do your part to keep the world healthy, too.

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