All that glitters is an ecological hazard.
Claiming that glitter is an environmental threat, scientists are trying to put an end to all glitter as we know it. They’re arguing that the tiny plastic pieces that make up the different shapes and forms that glitter takes add to global pollution, especially in the ocean.
“I think all glitter should be banned, because it’s microplastic,” environmental anthropologist Trisia Farrelly told the Independent.
Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic that are less than five millimeters long. Many animals ingest the dangerous shards of plastic when they encounter them in their habitats. One study, by Professor Richard Thompson, said that a third of all fish caught in the UK had these tiny plastics inside of them and another estimated that up to 51 trillion microplastic fragments are in the oceans.
“I was quite concerned when somebody bought my daughters some shower gel that had glitter particles in it,” Thompson said. “That stuff is going to escape down the plughole and potentially enter the environment.”
Plastic particles called microbeads — like the kind Thompson was concerned about her children using — are produced specifically for beauty products and do, in fact, put “marine wildlife under serious threat,” UK Environmental Secretary Michael Grove said.
The UK will enact a ban on the particles next year but some British nurseries have already instituted a no glitter rule.
“There are 22,000 nurseries in the country, so if we’re all getting through kilos and kilos of glitter, we’re doing terrible damage,” Tops Day Nurseries director Cheryl Hadland told the BBC.
Only seven states in the U.S. have laws restricting the sale of microbeads in beauty and health products. California was the first to ban them in 2015.