Give Now

A Moment of Science

Glitter Pollution

It's okay if you hate glitter; it's probably bad for the environment.

multi-colored glitter

Most glitter is currently made from plastic. (raw, Flickr)

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:

Stay Connected

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from A Moment of Science:

Support for Indiana Public Media Comes From

About A Moment of Science

Search A Moment of Science