If you’ve ever been to a festival, you know the drill – wear your most outlandish outfit, coat yourself in glitter, and live in a field for a weekend. What could be better?
Festivals allow us to push the boundaries of what a socially acceptable dress code is. You want to wear feathers? Go mad. You want to wear wellies and a sparky tiara? No one will even flinch.
Festivals invite a wealth of fun, but their environmental damage can be significant. Your glitter face paint and glittered skirt are one of the biggest causes of concern out there.
Glitter is made from plastic and can be found in a wide range of beauty products, clothing choices, and even in some more adventurous tents. Due to its small size, it’s hard to dispose of and easily gets washed into oceans and rivers where it becomes a subset of marine plastic litter, also known as microplastic.
Microplastics are less than five millimetres wide and enter the food chain through a variety of organisms consuming them and passing them on. This chain effect causes sustained damage and can lead to microplastic toxins impacting the biological functions of animals.
Now, this does sound super extreme. You’re probably wondering how the tiny, silvery flakes you paint on your cheeks can do that much damage. But just think how you dispose of glitter. It’s nearly impossible to scrape it off (and good luck getting it out of your hair). We most likely wash it off in the sink or wait till it flakes off during the day. This means it can’t be contained in a singular environment and leads to it spreading to all sorts of places.
The Drastic on Plastic initiative, led by the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), have outlawed non-biodegradable plastics and over 60 British music festivals have promised to ban single-use plastic and glitter from their sites. Some of the most well-loved and popular festivals are amongst the initiative, with Board Masters and Kendal Calling at the forefront.
Glitter tends to come out at very specific times of the year (hello Christmas cards), meaning that its pollutant level is smaller than other waste products. The New York Times reports that glitter “Makes up far less than 1% of the microplastics that pollute the environment.” This is small-scale however glitter is not an essential product, and the damage it does in a short scale of time is concerning.
A sparkly alternative
Never fear glitter fiends, as there are alternative options to the sparkly pollutant. Bioglitter is an affordable, just as sparkly, substitute that is 96% biodegradable.
This glitter is made from a plant-based cellulose derived from Eucalyptus trees and it naturally decomposes when in soil or wastewater environments. Not only is it better for the planet, and means your festival wear won’t be ruined, but it’s 40% softer for your skin.
The commercial director of Bioglitter, Stephen Cotton, said: “We are committed to minimising the impact of glitter on the environment and Bioglitter is our first step on that journey. We are convinced that it will revolutionise the market and demonstrate that there is an alternative way forward. It represents a large step forward towards our goal, containing around 92% less plastic than any counterpart and naturally degradable, so significantly reducing its effect on nature.”
A comprehensive list of biodegradable glitter
We don't want you to not feel your most sparkly when traipsing round a field so here is a few alternatives:
EcoGlitterFun specialises in chunky glitter – perfect for that face sparkle you want in all your festival photos!
Ecostardust donates 10% of all profits to environmental charities, supporting companies like Surfers Against Sewage and City to Sea.
Sparkle Town has a variety of glitter for all your festival needs – metallic blue? Yes, please!
This festival season make sure to sparkle as brightly as you can with biodegradable glitter. You'll be doing your bit whilst still shining!