The everyday craft and make-up product ruining our rivers
New research indicates that glitter could be causing ecological damage to our rivers and lakes.
The study, led by Dr Dannielle Green of Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) is the first to examine the impact of glitter on freshwater habitats.
Glitter is used in a variety of decorative ways, including on clothing, in arts and crafts, and in cosmetics and body paint.
Traditional glitter is a form of microplastic consisting of a plastic core made of polyester PET film, which is coated with aluminium and then covered with another thin plastic layer.
Along with other forms of single use microplastics, such as microbeads, there have been efforts to phase out PET glitter with the introduction of more biodegradable alternatives.
“Many of the microplastics found in our rivers and oceans have taken years to form, as larger pieces of plastic are broken down over time,” Dr Green said “However, glitter is a ready-made microplastic that is commonly found in our homes and, particularly through cosmetics, is washed off in our sinks and into the water system.
“Our study is the first to look at the effects of glitter in a freshwater environment and we found that both conventional and alternative glitters can have a serious ecological impact on aquatic ecosystems within a short period of time.
“All types, including so-called biodegradable glitter, have a negative effect on important primary producers which are the base of the food web, while glitter with a biodegradable cellulose core has an additional impact of encouraging the growth of an invasive species.”
Do you use a lot of glitter at home? Have you thought about the environmental impacts of glitter?