Please, let’s stop using glitter
Our fixation with anything shimmery is harming us and the environment
Nov 29, 2017
Maybe you’re doing your Christmas decor yourself or making cards to minimize your expenses this season. Perhaps you’re also thinking of applying some luster to your Christmas party makeup. Put and use whatever you want (but you know, preferably recycled materials), but can we agree to stay away from plastic like glitter?
Let us not be fooled by its harmless look for its impact on the environment is on the other side of the pole. In fact, some scientists think it should be banned because of its potential to ruin the oceans.
“I think all glitter should be banned because it’s microplastic,” said environmental anthropologist Dr. Trisia Farrelly to the Independent. Like microbeads in most exfoliating face washes (which by now I wish we’ve blacklisted in our skincare routine), glitter is one of microplastics or fragments of plastic less than 5 mm. in length.
Frequently overlooked in the equation of the marine plastic pollution, glitter clogs up the ocean. Also, its tiny characteristic makes it a tempting food item for marine animals, from plankton to whales. And since we eat seafood, plastic may end up in our guts, too.
“When people think about glitter they think of party and dress-up glitter,” said Farrelly. “But glitter includes cosmetic glitters as well, the more everyday kind that people don’t think about as much.”
Most glitter is made by fastening some kind of reflective metal like aluminum foil to plastic called polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Farrelly found that when broken down, PET release chemicals that disrupt hormones in the bodies of animals and humans. These chemicals have been linked with the onset of cancers and neurological diseases.
However, if you still want to unnecessarily indulge in the elegance of glitters, go to cosmetics chain Lush as its products are now devoid of microplastics. They’ve switched to synthetic, biodegradable alternatives (synthetic mica, mineral glitters, and natural starch-based lusters).
It’s easy to avoid glitter and microbeads. But to Farrelly, producers need to be responsible the most. “They need to use safer, non-toxic, durable alternatives,” she said.
It’s disheartening how we consumers are the ones who’d have to constantly adjust when change needs to come from the top down. Nevertheless, the choices we make should be products of mindful decision-making.
In this case, to stay away from the plastic problem, check the labels of cosmetics to determine if they have plastic-based materials. Avoid polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polyethylene (PE) or polypropylene (PP).
Header image courtesy of Unsplash
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