Should Glitter Be Banned? One Researcher Certainly Thinks So!

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Photo Credit: lejeune.marines.mil

For most people, the mention of glitter brings back fond memories of colorful preschool and kindergarten projects. However, the sparkly material is also prevalent in everyday grown-up products like makeup, decorations, and even iPhone cases. Unfortunately, while the fairy-dust-like substance is great for lifting our spirits, it is not so good for the environment, which is why one researcher is calling for a worldwide ban.

As you may or may not be aware, the shiny flecks are made using aluminum and PET, a plastic which does not decompose for decades. What makes glitter, and other microbeads used as exfoliators in face scrubs and soaps or to add texture and color to products like toothpaste and lip balms, dangerous is its diminutive size. Measuring less than five millimeters in length, the microplastics pass unfiltered through sewage treatment systems, into rivers and canals and eventually, the ocean.

Image Credit: citizenscampaign.org

In 2009, a study led by Professor Richard Thompson at UK’s Plymouth University discovered that one in three fish caught in Great Britain had ingested microplastics. A 2015 paper published in the journal American Chemical Society found evidence of polymer in the tiny zooplankton that form the base of the oceanic food chain. A more recent study by researchers at the State University of New York at Fredonia and the University of Minnesota examined 12 different kinds of salt, including ten sea salts, and found all contain microplastics. Trisia Farrelly, a social anthropologist at Massey University in New Zealand and an expert in waste plastic, says, "They really do get into everything, and despite their tiny size, they can have a devastating impact on humans and non-human animals.”

Image Credit: greenwire.greenpeace.org

Farrelly is particularly focused on banning glitter, but not because the shiny material is the primary cause of the trillions of pieces of microplastics polluting our oceans. Her concern is that though many countries, including the US, UK, and New Zealand, have banned the use of microbeads, glitter is only restricted if present in cosmetics and personal products. The plastic material is not prohibited if used for other purposes.

Since most experts believe getting rid of glitter is not going to make a dent in the plastic crisis, a worldwide ban is probably not going to become a reality anytime soon. Fortunately, companies and organizations have begun taking the initiative themselves. In the UK, many preschools have banned the shiny material from their classrooms, while cosmetics manufacturer Lush has replaced it with a natural, eco-friendly product. Consumers who wish to join in the effort now also have the option of purchasing environmentally-friendly glitter, that not only reduces plastic pollution, but also does not stick to the hands!

Resources: ecowatch.com, fortune.com,bbc.co.uk,fortune

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1273 Comments
  • tropical_wonder
    tropical_wonderTuesday, May 11, 2021 at 8:00 am
    GLITTER HAS TO GO! We want to live in a clean beautiful world. Not in a world were pollution is everywhere!
    • gold3nglare
      gold3nglareTuesday, May 11, 2021 at 7:40 am
      Glitter is bad! Plus it's impossible to clean!
      • wolfieland
        wolfielandTuesday, May 11, 2021 at 5:55 am
        I'd say we make glitter extinct! it's messy, and no body uses it.
        • betathenyabyfar
          betathenyabyfarSunday, April 11, 2021 at 4:46 pm
          Who cares about glitter? Its not a everyday need.... Honestly I could care less about glitter, a horrible disgrace to the environment. The people who say not to get rid of glitter or at LEAST make it environmentally friendly glitter should get a grip.
          • unipug2
            unipug2Friday, March 19, 2021 at 5:57 pm
            Maybe we should give colored lip balms, glosses, and toothpastes a rest, or we could use an environmentally better substance!
            • pinklilcow
              pinklilcowFriday, February 12, 2021 at 5:05 am
              Nooooooooo has please don't get rid of our glitter!😶
              • gold3nglare
                gold3nglareTuesday, May 11, 2021 at 8:15 am
                We need to. No need to be selfish. It is crucial for the environmental survival.
              • unicorn87
                unicorn87Friday, February 5, 2021 at 8:00 pm
                I want to save the earth, not have edible glitter. I want a safer kind
                • sydney_zepp
                  sydney_zeppFriday, February 5, 2021 at 2:00 pm
                  Oh wow. Edible glitter would be okay tho I think.
                  • pusheenicorn
                    pusheenicornWednesday, December 16, 2020 at 5:43 pm
                    I want to protect the environment, but... I LOVE glitter! 🦄 maybe make a safer kind??? And they banned it from PRESCHOOLERS, who might not understand why its banned! What should we do?!
                    • efd
                      efdFriday, December 4, 2020 at 6:35 am
                      I think we should keep the eco-friendly glitter and get rid of the fish-killing glittee