Besides the fact that you are sure to be finding glitter in your stuff for months to come, standard glitter is made of mylar, just like those shiny balloons (1). Mylar is a type of PET, or polyester, plastic (2). We aren't so much worried about the fact that the glitter is made of plastic and you are putting it directly on your body, but the fact that you have to wash it off it and goes right down the drain into our water systems. Because of the nature of glitter being such tiny particles, washing off the glitter basically means you are dumping a whole bunch of microplastics into your water system. While that alone is less than ideal, it gets worse when you realize that individual pieces of glitter are often so small that they can't be filtered out in basic water treatment plants and break down into even smaller pieces.
For water that doesn't go through a treatment plant, it often goes to oceans and streams where fish and other marine life think it looks like food (1). So, not only is it staying in our water as something that we drink, but it is also getting into the food that we eat (3).
One more tidbit about microplastics - they are really good at absorbing chemicals from the water around them (4). Basically, they become like super potent, very tiny, chemical bombs floating around and looking like food to fish. So, not only are the fish eating plastic, which is kind of gross on its own, but they are eating plastic extra packed with other chemicals that might have been in the water around the plastic. There hasn't been a lot of research yet looking into the health effects of consuming microplastics, but from what we do know, we are guessing it's not going to be good news.
Does that mean you have to give up your perfectly sparkly festival makeup?
Nope! You don't have to - let the celebration commence! There are now a couple of companies that are making biodegradable glitter. How does that work? They use a plant cellulose from eucalyptus and a tiny amount aluminum to make it shine. When introduced to water or soil it can break down - no absorbing chemicals, no looking like food to fish, all the sparkly goodness.
Here are some brands making waves in the biodegradable glitter field. Check them out, then get your shine on!
Eco Glitter Fun
Of course, glitter isn't the only way to create your perfect festival look. Get creative! We're sure you can come up with something extraordinary that will still turn heads and make for great photos. Who knows, you're amazing new idea might even just start a new trend.