Scientists say glitter should be banned.
They say it is bad for the environment and contributes to marine plastic pollution.
Trisia Farrelly is an environmental anthropologist at Massey University in New Zealand. She is one of the scientists calling for the ban.
Farrelly explained: ‘All glitter should be banned because it’s microplastic and all microplastics leak into the environment.’
Microplastics are tiny fragments of plastic. Their small size make them easy for many animals to eat.
Scientists estimate there are 51 trillion fragments of microplastics in the world’s ocean.
A study found plastics and microplastics can be found in a third of fish caught in the UK.
Microbeads are a type of microplastic. Glitter producers use microbeads to make glitter.
Marine biologist Alan Kwan explained to the BBC: ‘The problem with microplastics is that it’s so small.
‘When we pour it away, wash it down the sink or take it away from our daily lives, we don’t know where it goes.
‘It goes straight into the oceans, just like big plastic it stays as it is for a long, long time.’
A ban on microbeads comes into action in the UK next year. Scientists and campaigners do not know if this will include glitter.
The US banned production of cosmetics and personal care products that contain microbeads last July.
Canada banned microbeads last June.
A combination of aluminum and a plastic called PET make up glitter.
Farrelly has investigated the impact consuming PET has on animals and humans.
The plastic can break down to release chemicals that disrupts hormones in the body of whoever has consumed it.
These chemicals can contribute to cancers and neurological diseases, say scientists.
Marine plastic pollution
Not enough people are paying attention to the contribution glitter makes to marine plastic pollution say scientists and campaigners.
There is a push for the creation of more eco-friendly glitter that breaks down quickly as a viable replacement.
Cosmetics chain Lush has replaced glitter in its products with synthetic, biodegradable alternatives. Scientists praised this move, including Doctor Sue Kinsey, senior pollution policy officer at the Marine Conservation Society.
She said this decision ‘sends out a clear message to their customers who will hopefully try and make the right choices in other areas of their shopping.’
Lush advises it’s customers to ‘avoid being part of the microplastic problem’ and ‘start by checking labels of all your cosmetics to determine if they contain any plastic-based materials.’
Farrelly feels the change to avoid comestic glitter and microbeads is a ‘no-brainer’ but needs to come from the top.
She adds: ‘I’m sick and tired of consumers being help responsible for trying to avoid this stuff. I mean it’s literally impossible to.
‘Producers need to be responsible. They need to use safer, non-toxic, durable alternatives.’
Alice Horton is a research associate at Britain’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.
She spoke to National Geographic and explained there is no concrete data on glitter.
Horton added the effects of microplastics are ‘highly variable, depending on the type and shape of the particle, so it’s hard to say what any likely ecological effects would be.’
‘I believe we need to promote responsible product use before resorting to drastic measures such as a legal ban,’ she adds.