When it comes to art I've never been a big fan of glitter. Maybe it's because I taught high school for so many years and always felt that the minute you put glitter on something it is no longer fine art. But now that I have kids, in particular a four year old daughter, I have to admit I have felt the lure of everything that glitters. I've even recently stopped to admire the fancy new glitter containers in Target's craft isle. So what's wrong with glitter you ask?
If you are like me, you probably never really thought much about the dangers of glitter. Our kids love it, it sparkles, we even use it in cosmetics. It can't be that bad, right?
It turns out that most glitter is a microplastic. Microplastics are characterized as plastic particles smaller than 5mm in diameter, and microplastics are starting to wreak havoc in the ecosystem, with potential long term impact.
Glitter is making it's way to our oceans and creating a lot of problems along with all the other microplastics that we use in our daily lives. Remember the microbeads that used to be in our toiletries? I remember soaping up with the slippery little things thinking they were made up of some sort of soap material. I was shocked when I found out they were actually made of plastic. The US has since banned the manufacturing and importing of products containing these little beads. Glitter is made from plastic, and it's about the same size. Should they ban glitter as well? I'll leave that one to the politicians, but in the mean time, I won't be buying any more glitter.
The fact is we live in a world that values the convenience of plastic over it's detrimental effects. It's in our homes, our cars and even the clothes we wear. Large plastic items break down in the ocean and eventually become microplastics. When we wash polyester and acrylic clothing they shed particles that will end up in the ocean as well. The fact is, we need to start thinking about everything that we use and the effect it has on our environment. This includes glitter.
Okay, okay, so you love glitter, or your four year old loves glitter and you can't possibly give it up. You could buy an eco friendly glitter alternative, or instead of using glitter on an art project, how about using salt, colored sand, or cupcake sprinkles? Get creative and you'll find something that will make your kids just as happy as glitter!