Natalia Welzenbach-Marcu | November 30, 2017
Glitter is looking less and less like a fun craft material and more like an environmental hazard.
Almost on the heels of a recent scientific discovery that plastic has now penetrated even our deepest ocean floors, there has been a push by the UK government to ban the small bits of plastic that still make their way into the ecosystem.
Glitter is a microplastic, cut into small shapes that reflect light and give everything from cards and crafts to lotions and body washes an extra gleam. While pretty, the stuff can quickly escape into drains and become a hazard to marine life. British scientist Stephan Cotton has been working on an eco-friendly version of glitter, one that uses eucalyptus tree extract instead. Mica–a mineral used in cosmetics for shimmer and luster–is another natural alternative, but there is an ongoing battle to reduce child labor in mica mines and quarries.
For now, the UK government is looking seriously at banning microplastic glitter, as it has already planned to ban micro-beads in 2018. Micro-beads are found mostly in face scrubs and exfoliating products, and the ban has forced companies to find natural alternatives. Some companies are already using natural, eco-friendly, and ethically sourced materials to make things shine, and scientists are confident that a ban on microplastic will convince others to do the same.