What a better way to add a bit of sparkly fun to the party season than to add some glittery goodness to your skin, face, hair and clothes. I am guilty of using glitter on recent occasions when going out on university society socials. However, after reading for my dissertation I have realised that it is damaging our environment so I am ditching the glitter, and I think you should too.
The U.K government has proposed to not sell products which contain microplastics. However, it is unknown when this law will be enforced. These microplastics which are manufactured to this size are commonly found in cosmetic products such as exfoliator and toothpaste, and often go by their other name of “microbeads”.
We know that microplastic pollution is bad for our planet, Europe produces 59 million tonnes of plastic each year but only 17.9 million tonnes of this is either recycled of used in energy recovery processes. Large pieces of plastic are easy to put into the recycling bin, but how are microplastics – which often aren’t even visible to the naked eye – to be disposed of effectively? Well, there isn’t a method which works 100% efficiently at doing this. Wastewater treatment plants have been found to not be effective at removing all microplastics, and there is no effective way currently of stopping stormwater from effecting our surface water systems. The latest up and coming fad of putting glitter on car tyres and in beards *eye roll*, where is it expected to go when the rain hits then into our surface water?
So what are the negative effects of these contaminants entering our water systems? They can easily enter food webs starting from small organisms like phytoplankton and zooplankton, and make their way up food chains to large predators and humans. Some fish that you have eaten will have probably ingested microplastics at some point. This can cause physical harm as a result of the ingestion, and facilitate the transfer of chemicals to organisms such as oestrogen mimicking hormones.
So please ditch the microplastics. Save the planet.
Image from Seachair