Some bad news has been making the rounds, just in time to ruin the holidays: Glitter is not good for the environment.
Some scientists are talking more about the dangers posed by the sparkles used in children’s crafts and some cosmetics. Most glitter is made with plastic, and when it drifts into a landfill or down a drain, it can become a microplastic pollutant. Those small pieces of plastic are not always caught by water filters, so they seep into oceans, lakes and rivers.
Joel Baker, a marine pollution expert at the University of Washington at Tacoma, said one thing sets glitter apart from other pollutants: It sticks around, conspicuously, in the most unwanted places.
“A little bit of glitter goes a long way. Weeks after a kid’s birthday party, there’s still glitter all over your car,” he said.
Sherri A. Mason, who has done extensive research on plastic pollution in freshwater, said that glitter can carry chemicals that are ingested by small creatures and then make their way up the food chain.
“Yes, there are going to be pains associated with reducing our use of plastic, but we have to think beyond ourselves,” she added. “This isn’t about your New Year’s celebration. It’s about humanity, and our ability to survive as a species.”