Your favorite sparkly and harmless-looking glitter has a shocking dark side.
Due to its small size, a lot of marine life mistake glitter for food. This then damages their livers and affects their behavior. As if that wasn’t enough, each piece takes thousands of years to completely break down.
Because of the environmental disaster that these microplastics are causing, scientists are calling for a complete ban on the product.
In 2017, Dr. Trisia Farrelly of New Zealand’s Massey University told CBS News, “I think all glitter should be banned because it’s microplastic.
“Producers should not get away with making a profit out of the production of disposable, single-use plastics while bearing little responsibility for the damage.”
The US and the UK have already outlawed care products and cosmetics that contain microbeads but more needs to be done.
Microbeads contribute to plastic pollution as they are easily washed down the drain and make their way to the sea where fish and crustaceans can swallow them and potentially produce harmful effects.
For similar reasons, both these countries are now calling for a ban on glitter.
Glitter usually consists of a plastic layer, a thin-colored layer, and a reflective layer (often made from aluminum). These layers are bonded and then cut into tiny shapes.
You know how difficult it is to clean up glitter in the house so imagine what it must be like to have tons of the stuff in our oceans.
Scientists are particularly calling out the polyethylene terephthalate (PET), or Mylar, that comprises glitter. Because the material can absorb chemicals and pollutants, they can become even more toxic. Roughly 92.4% of the 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean right now is comprised of Mylar.
Just as with other microplastics, glitter is so small that plankton can eat them. Fish eat plankton so the glitter you threw away could just as likely end up on your dinner plate.
There are already alarming levels of microplastic contamination discovered in tap water.
The Royal Society of Chemistry said: “There is a need to change the way plastic is viewed by society: from ubiquitous, disposable waste to a valuable, recyclable raw material, much like metal and glass.
“It’s hoped this will increase the economic value of plastic waste in a circular economy.”