Much as I have been excited about the launch of Glossier Play, this is not cool, Glossier. Not cool at all. It is 2019, and if by now you haven’t learned that non-biodegradable glitter is killing our planet, you deserve all the brickbats your customers are wielding right now.
And actually, you do know. Considering that your own website says this about the Glitter Gelée: “Avoid washing off with water to prevent getting glitter into the waterways.” Hence, squarely placing the responsibility on the consumers. But pray tell me, how exactly do we take off the glitter then? Even if we “… use a cotton pad and Milky Oil”, as you suggest, that cotton pad will ultimately be thrust out in the environment. Isn’t it?
What exactly is the problem with glitter, you ask?
Glitter is a microplastic – pieces of plastic smaller than 5 mm – and microplastic pollution is a massive problem. Particularly in lakes, oceans and other waterways.
Like microbeads, microplastics are consumed by fish, seabirds, plankton and other marine life. It collects in their stomachs, often causing them to die of starvation.
According to a UN report in 2017, microplastics can even end up inside us when we eat seafood, with increasing worry about it getting into our bloodstream. A recent study by Professor Richard Thompson found plastic in a third of UK-caught fish.
That glittery pot still sounding so much fun?
And it doesn’t end here. When it enters the waterways, this plastic acts like a sponge for other toxic chemicals in the environment. While these chemicals are usually found at concentrations that are too low for biological damage, they get concentrated over a period of time by accumulating on the plastic surface. These toxic particles are then consumed by fish, from where they ultimately land on our plates.
I would say we deserve what we are getting.
Because we have enough alternatives
We don’t even need to stop having fun with glitter and sparkles altogether. Because all that glitters is not plastic. There are now enough alternatives available in the form of plastic-free biodegradable glitter. This eco-friendly glitter is usually made from plant cellulose and is compostable, so it won’t hang on in the environment forever.
Lush has replaced plastic glitter in its products with mineral versions, and there are so many cosmetic brands that allow you to have your glitter without having to eat it too. There’s BioGlitz, Glitter Girl, Wild Glitter and EcoStardust to name just a few. And I can say from first-hand experience that this eco-glitter is just as good as the microplastic-based one. Added bonus: It’s gentler on our skin.
The world is taking note. More than 60 music festivals in the UK have banned glitter products from their venues. And even Meadowbrook Inventions, the New Jersey-based company that invented modern glitter in the first place, has biodegradable glitter on its menu.
So, it defies rationale why a company like Glossier (though, let’s be clear that they are not the only ones), which has its finger so firmly on the pulse of the market, would not use biodegradable glitter? The consumers have definitely noticed, given the hundreds of comments pouring in on their IG feed, asking why the company is not using biodegradable glitter.
Now it remains to be seen if the brand that prides itself on customer feedback responds to the detractors, either by changing the formulation or explaining the rationale.
What do you think Glossier, and other similar brands should do? Which other brands would you like to call out for using microplastic glitter that’s damaging the environment, and our health?