All That Glitters Is Not Green: Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Glitter
Even prehistoric humans were using glitter made from mica dust to give cave paintings a glittering appearance as early as 30,000 years ago. Today, glitter has a dizzying number of uses including art and craftwork, cosmetic application, fabric decoration, fishing lures, and even edible culinary art.
But here’s the problem. The plastic in glitter takes about 1,000 years to completely biodegrade. Its tiny size means glitter can pass through water filtration systems and end up in waterways, oceans and – ultimately – inside fish. Fish containing microplastics are even consumed by humans. Microplastics have also been proven to help bacteria survice in aquatic environments, meaning disease can be more easily spread through waterways containing glitter.
It’s hardly surprising that scientists and environmental activists are calling for an outright ban on plastic glitter, much like the recent ban on microbeads. But this doesn’t mean we have to give up on having a sparkle in our lives. Three eco-friendly glitter alternatives are:
- Glitter that decomposes in air and water, with the plastic replaced with a eucalyptus extract.
- Glitter made from cellulose from hardwoods (primarily eucalyptus).
- Made from a biodegradable cellulose film.
Eco-friendly alternatives to plastic glitter are generally compostable, cosmetic grade, plant-based, biodegradable, and even vegan. The great news is that these glitter alternatives are reportedly every bit as sparkly as traditional plastic glitter.
Even though it only makes up a tiny proportion of the overall problem, giving up plastic glitter is a small but significant step towards addressing the damage that plastic pollution – and particularly microplastics – are causing to our environment.
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