It can seem like if you’re even within a mile of someone using glitter, you’ll find it somewhere on you. And then it never goes away. For months, you’ll be pulling that small brightly-colored plastic out of your hair, tracking it with your shoes, and finding it stuck to your arms.
Yeah, that’s a little hyperbolic for people, but for the environment, unfortunately, it will take hundreds of years for glitter to go away, even though it’s tiny. It could actually be pretty bad for the planet.
Glitter is a form of microplastic, a type of plastic that’s five millimeters across or smaller. And glitter, as anyone who has found it clinging to the nooks and crannies of their clothing has realized, is usually much smaller than that—meaning it’s small enough to go through water filters and escape into our waterways.
You can now find glitter and other microplastics floating in vast islands atop the ocean—but you can also find it in the currents of local streams and rivers. With glitter and other microplastics so ubiquitous, it’s quickly ingested by fish and other animals, eventually making its way back up the foodchain and entering our own bodies.
Scientists agree that more research needs to occur in order to really know the effects of glitter in the environment. But they are encouraging everyone to use glitter made from biodegradable materials, or to just use it less.
I guess it’s true what they say: all that glitters is not gold.
Sources And Further Reading:
- Andrews, Robin. “Scientist Calls for Glitter To Be Banned Because It’s Awful For The Environment.” IFL Science, November 29, 2017. Accessed April 25, 2018.
- Fortin, Jacey. “All That Glitter? It’s Not Good, Critics Say.” New York Times, December 1, 2017, p. NA(L). Science in Context. Accessed January 24, 2018.
- Parker, Laura. “To Save the Oceans, Should You Give Up Glitter?” National Geographic. November 30, 2017. Accessed 24 January 2018.