Give glitter a miss this Christmas

The last week of school is wrapping up and you might be planning some last-minute art projects with your kids, but skip the glitter this year. The sparkly stuff, which is synonymous with homemade Christmas crafts, can find its way onto our streets and into our parks by blowing off Christmas cards and homemade decorations.

Glitter is a micro plastic and the small size of its particles makes it a potential ecological hazard,” says Louise Pedersen, Executive Director of NatureKids BC. “Birds are an inquisitive species and enjoy examining new objects, especially shiny objects, often placing them in their mouths. Once ingested, glitter can be toxic for some birds, and the small, hard edges of glitter can create long-term problems for a birds’ small digestive system.”

Small glitter fragments also get washed through filtration systems and ultimately end up in our oceans, causing harm to marine life. Some estimates place the number of micro plastics in the world’s ocean at up to 51 trillion fragments in total and glitter is part of the problem. The size of the fragments means they’re easily swallowed by sea life and the results can prove fatal.

“There are some environmentally friendly alternatives,” continues Louise, “Lentils, rice and pasta can be enhanced with eco-friendly paints or you can make your own glitter using food dyes and salt or sugar. But, for those who really can’t forgo some sparkle this Christmas, biodegradable glitter can be bought online. Hopefully, next year we’ll see brick and mortar stores stocking biodegradable glitter so it’s more readily available for young glitter fans”.

And the glitter that doesn’t end up causing harm to wildlife ends up in landfill. Due to its plastic and foil properties, glitter has no recycling potential and has been known to clog up recycling machinery. So glitter-covered wrapping paper and cards are only destined for the garbage, causing an unnecessary contribution to landfill sites.

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