Step aside plastic glitter, there’s a new eco-friendly product on the market. The world’s first biodegradable glitter is made entirely from plants—and it's available now.

By Emily VanSchmus
Updated January 06, 2020
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It’s no secret that plastic isn’t a friend to the environment, so people around the globe are making small changes to help Mother Earth. Ditching plastic water bottles and opting for environmentally-friendly products is becoming more mainstream, but there’s one harmful product you may not have thought of—glitter. You may be picturing sparkly Christmas or Valentine's Day cards, but plastic glitter is more prevalent than you might think. It’s in beauty products like eyeshadow and nail polish, party confetti, and even bath bombs—not to mention the thousands of glittered home and craft products on the market right now.

Because of its environmental impact, scientists have actually been calling for a ban on glitter for several years, with one American scientist calling it a "global hazard" in 2017. You might recall back in 2015 when Congress banned the use of microbeads. But what you might not know is microbeads (which used to be found in things like toothpaste and shower gel) have about the same environmental impact as glitter, but to date, restrictions have not been placed on glitter in the United States.

Since the product is so prevalent, a total ban on glitter isn't something that can be easily achieved—but some retailers are transitioning to a more earth-friendly option—biodegradable glitter. 

Credit: Courtesy of Today Glitter

Why Glitter Is Bad for the Environment

Glitter is made from tiny pieces of plastic—also referred to as microplastic. When you dispose of items made of microplastics, a good portion inevitably ends up in the ocean—especially if it’s a product you wash off in the sink or shower (like glittery makeup). When glitter lands in the ocean, it causes two major environmental problems: It kills marine life and causes extra carbon dioxide to be released into the atmosphere.

High levels of microplastics in the ocean lead to more fish waste floating on the ocean’s surface instead of landing on the ocean floor. Not only is that gross to think about, but waste from animals like salps (similar to a jellyfish) is actually meant to trap carbon dioxide on the ocean floor. When it sits on the surface of the water for too long, all that gas is released into the atmosphere.

Unsurprisingly, microplastics are also extremely harmful to fish and other marine life. The plastic pieces end up in their stomachs and ultimately cause them to starve. A high presence of glitter in the ocean also means you could end up eating a fish that has ingested glitter, and no one wants to find that on their plate in a seafood restaurant.

How You Can Help

Even though avoiding glitter altogether isn't all that realistic for many crafters (the stuff is everywhere!), there's one small and easy change you can make to make sure you're not harming ocean life—switch to biodegradable glitter.

Bioglitter is a company focused on creating Earth-friendly glitter products that are made from non-plastic sources. In March 2019, they launched the world’s first completely plant-based glitter. It’s made entirely from eucalyptus cellulose core, and it’s the only glitter product currently on the market that is certified biodegradable. In the testing process, Bioglitter’s Pure Red 008 reached 92% biodegradation after only 28 days—meaning that after a month or two, discarded Bioglitter has almost zero environmental impact.

The glitter, while slightly more expensive (about $1.66 per gram, compared to only $0.30 per gram for a similar glitter product from Target), is available from Today Glitter (a biodegradable glitter retailer) and is every bit as cute as the sparkly plastic product you grew up with. They currently offer 41 different colors and styles of glitter, each available in five different sizes. Today Glitter also sells biodegradable cosmetic glitter for makeup professionals, body glitter for festival-goers, and of course, the classic product for kids and crafters. If you’ve been looking for ways to become more environmentally-friendly, this small swap can make a big impact.

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