It is a truth universally acknowledged — we all love glitter, and the brighter and shinier, the better. Who doesn't love to sparkle, right?
Though I've personally always wanted to be embalmed in holographic glitter and pictures of Armie Hammer (don't judge), science is here to rain on my sparkly, mildly pervy parade.
Turns out glitter isn't as harmless as we thought it was. In fact, some scientists are calling the stuff we coat our eyelids with a "global hazard," and are calling for a complete glitter ban starting in 2018 lest the entire ocean be destroyed.
Though most people don't think about the effect glitter may have on the environment, it can be staggering. According to The Independent, once glitter is washed off skin and enters the environment, it causes all sorts of problems.
Glitter is actually made of plastic — yes, even the "safe" cosmetic glitter in your favorite makeup. And because glitter is made of such teeny particles, it's technically considered a microplastic. Animals eat it (because it's so small and looks like a good food source) and since plastic takes forever to biodegrade, glitter contributes mightily to pollution.
According to The Independent, some estimates say that the number of microplastic fragments in the world's ocean may be around 51 trillion. While that's not *all* glitter, it does contribute — and that is a massive amount of pollution!
But it doesn't stop there. Marine animals like whales and dolphins sometimes eat plastic, which can kill them. And since every animal in the sea, from plankton to tuna, looks at microplastic as a tasty snack, when HUMANS eat seafood, we also end up consuming fragments of those same plastics.
So, glitter is contributing to killing fish, hurting the ocean, and polluting the world — so what can we do to stop it?
President Obama signed the Microbead-Free Waters Act in 2015, which banned "rinse-off cosmetics that contain intentionally-added plastic microbeads." So those little exfoliating lumps in your shower gel are officially donezo.
But while everyone was freaking out about microbeads, nobody paid attention to glitter — which hurts the environment in similar ways. While scientists and politicians debate a possible glitter ban, we can purchase sparkle from brands that use biodegradable materials in an ecologically sound way. EcoStardust, GLITTERREVOLUTION, and Lush all use environmentally-friendly glitter, so be sure to check them out the next time you want to shine.