glitter in palm of hands

Plastic Free Glitter Alternatives – Great advice for sustainable glitter lovers

Glitter usually accompanies holidays, celebrations, and parties with its vibrant, reflective appearance. Hidden beneath its deceptively cheery appearance is the truth: glitter is actually just microplastic. If you still love glitter, consider switching to a plastic free glitter alternative instead!

Why you should switch to plastic free glitter

According to Brunel University, “Microplastics are fragments of plastic – under 5mm in length – which are either tiny before they enter the environment, as is the case with microbeads, or which start as a larger piece of plastic, like a shopping bag, which then degrades down into smaller pieces.”

The issue with microplastics – and thus, glitter – is that they’re now turning up everywhere. In oceans, rivers, ponds, soil, air, and even in the animals we eat. Microplastics take many years to biodegrade. Additionally, researchers studying the effect of microplastic on rivers and lakes have found evidence of its impact. As the BBC states: “In laboratory tests, all types of glitter affected the growth of pond plants and microscopic algae.”

You may have heard that some major retailers, including Morrisons, Waitrose, and John Lewis, were avoiding glitter in their Christmas products last year. While this is a great first step, we must realise that glitter is in many places other than Christmas decor. It’s in cosmetics, skincare, decorations, cards, and more. 

Plastic free glitter: is it worth it?

There are more and more plastic free glitter options cropping up on the market. While this seems great on the surface, the materials used to make these glitters are a bit questionable. For example, BBC points out how one brand is made from cellulose, covered in aluminum, then covered in a layer of plastic – yet, it’s still marketed as biodegradable. 

Biodegradable or plastic free glitters are often made from mica and modified regenerated cellulose (MRC). In a recent study from Anglia Ruskin University, both regular and biodegradable glitter went through laboratory tests to determine the effect of glitter on plant growth. The study found that both types of glitter have serious impacts on aquatic ecosystems in just a short timeframe. According to The Guardian, “…all types, including so-called biodegradable glitter, had a negative effect on important primary producers that are the base of the food web. “Biodegradable” cellulose-based glitter had an additional negative impact in that it encouraged the growth of an invasive species, the New Zealand mud snail.” 

Natural alternatives to plastic free glitter

Instead of using traditional or plastic free glitter, consider trying the following natural alternatives:

Salt – Pick up some sea salt and food colouring. This quick DIY creates vibrant and cheerful salt glitter! Check out a tutorial here.

Edible glitter – Try making edible glitter from sugar, gum-tex, or gelatin. These glitters are great for baking as well!

Sand – Did you ever play with coloured sand as a kid? You can DIY your own (tutorial here) and use it as a colourful decoration in the same way you might use glitter.

Petals and leaves – Go for a walk and collect small flowers and leaves. These will be prettier and smell better than any glitter.

Final thoughts

Natural alternatives for glitter might not always work for your needs. If you must, try using a plastic free glitter, like Today Glitter, but be sure to use it sparingly and save it for special occasions only. When you have the choice, avoiding glitter altogether is the best thing you can do for the environment. 

For more plastic free content, check out my post on making your own DIY bath bombs here! Unlike many common store-bought bath bombs, my recipe calls for no glitter. If you need support, join the Aim Plastic Free challenge! You can join here – expect daily tips and community support. 

I hope you’ve found this blog helpful! As always, you can support me and the site by buying me a cup of coffee or sharing the site with a friend. Your support means the world to me!

Mia Hadrill
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