When we think of glitter, childhood arts and craft projects, glittering bombing co-workers, and shimmering prosecco all come to mind. What doesn't initially come to mind are the hazards that come with our beloved sparkles, but it should. Environmental scientist are arguing that glitter is such an ecological hazard that it should be outlawed.
Glitter is a lurking danger in disguise. Behind it's fun, pretty décor, lies a product that is damaging our environment, and it all has to do with pollution. Glitter (not to be confused with edible glitter) is nothing more than tiny pieces of microplastic - plastic smaller than 5 millimeters. The danger of these tiny microplastics is it finds its way into our water sources, which in turn is polluting the ocean.
Think about it. When the kids are making an art project or have products that feature glitter, at some point they will wash off glitter that is sticking to their skin. That glitter is then entering our water system and some will eventually wind up polluting the environment. This present a hazard, especially when it comes to marine life.
According to CBS Philly, a study by Professor Richard Thomas discovered a third of the fish in Great Britain had consumed plastic. As fish mistake microplastics for food, the pollution of glitter is something not to be taken lightly.
"I was quite concerned when somebody bought my daughters some shower gel that had glitter particles in it. That stuff is going to escape down the plughole and potentially enter the environment," Thomas told CBS.
While not everyone may be on board yet to ban glitter, in Britain they have already begun to facilitate the removal of the product. Many nurseries have already banned its use, as the country is expected to have it completely banned by 2018.
As the concern for plastic pollution grows, next time you have an arts and crafts session with your little ones, it may be a good idea to leave out the glitter. Or opt for a non-plastic, biodegradable glitter that takes the guilt out of the fun.