Eco Tip: No Glittering

Marsha Low, Weavers Way Environment Committee

You may be aware that microbeads (a type of microplastic), which are used in exfoliating personal products such as body scrubs and facial cleansers, have been banned in rinse-off cosmetics as of July 2017. The law is aimed at protecting U.S. waterways, since microbeads cannot be filtered out in wastewater treatment plants. Beginning in July 2018, the sale of over-the-counter drugs containing these plastic particles will also be banned. Toothpaste is one example. And despite an extensive online search, I (thankfully) could not find any other OTC drug that contains microbeads.

But there’s another type of microplastic that ought to be phased out as well: Glitter.

Microplastics are a well-known environmental hazard for the world’s oceans, as they leach chemicals into the water, take hundreds of years to break down and harm marine life if ingested. Glitter, being a microplastic, is no exception.

But here’s some good news for those of us who just can’t give up the shiny stuff, or whose children would sorely miss it: Some companies make more environmentally friendly alternatives that are biodegradable. A Google search will reveal the names of several. (A caveat: While these products are biodegradable, some surely contain artificial colors or other ingredients that might not be all that great for the environment. The savvy environmentalist will have to choose carefully among the biodegradable glitter brands available.)