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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1258 Comments
  • queen_josie
    queen_josieWednesday, April 29, 2020 at 7:59 am
    glitter is too sparkly and animals might think that it is food and they might eat it and die when they don*t deserve to. my school did an activities week all about plastic pollution and we did recycling. follow me if you think that fish don*t deserve to be killed!!
    • animereina2020
      animereina2020Tuesday, April 28, 2020 at 7:35 pm
      Yeah, it got in my eyes once, and I would never want fish to die just because of glitter. Totally agreed to ban glitter!
      • cookielover1234
        cookielover1234Sunday, April 19, 2020 at 4:16 pm
        I love glitter but it is messy and kills fish so yeah band glitter
        • goodman200
          goodman200Tuesday, January 28, 2020 at 9:09 am
          glitter can kill all the fish
          • omnom2469
            omnom2469Friday, January 17, 2020 at 8:17 am
            glitter is not good for the fishy
            • misted
              mistedTuesday, December 31, 2019 at 1:10 pm
              I love glitter and sparkles but it it kills that's NOT a good thing! How dare you glitter!😡
              • portia beanWednesday, November 6, 2019 at 4:24 pm
                glitter is my life :(
                • better than youMonday, November 4, 2019 at 4:25 pm
                  glitter is not life!!!
                  • thatunicorn....Saturday, August 31, 2019 at 12:15 pm
                    Noooo!!! Not glitter! GLITTER IS LIFE
                    • ???Thursday, August 29, 2019 at 7:04 pm
                      yes it shold be band also glitter is messy and dirty!!!:(