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Is biodegradable glitter really a sustainable option? Here’s what we’ve learned

All that glitters is not green. Especially when it's made from plastic. Considering that we've arrived at what I would call a truly depressing moment in history, where microplastics have been found at the earth's highest peak (Mount Everest) and deepest crevasse (Mariana Trench), it's time to reconsider our use of glitter in beauty and in our pursuit of a good time.

A festival favourite and popping up in many of our beauty products like highlighter, eyeshadow and lipgloss, glitter is undisputedly bad for the environment. The reason is fairly straightforward, cut from a combination of plastic and aluminium to achieve a reflective surface, by design glitter is sold in its most environmentally hazardous form—miniscule bits of plastic that are virtually impossible to gather once dispersed. To put it into perspective, microplastics are the byproduct of larger items like water bottles and shopping bags breaking down, but they generally fall within the size range of 5mm. Glitter is much smaller.

When we shower, or when it rains after a festival, even when we wash our hands after opening Christmas presents, glitter finds a way into our waterways and wreaks irreversible damage on our marine ecosystems. It throws these delicate ecosystems out of balance, invites in invasive species and will likely end up in the bellies of sea life.

It's for this reason that events like Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras have banned glitter altogether, while overseas retailers like Waitrose and Morrisons have removed glitter from all their Christmas products; like wrapping paper, crackers and gift bags.


As we scramble for sustainable alternatives to glitter, many are looking to the mineral mica as a solution. This rings true especially in beauty, where glitter has been swapped out in favour of this naturally formed iridescent powder. What few have acknowledged however, is that not only does mica require mining, which we are well aware poses its own environmental issues. But it is well-documented that child labour has been used to mine mica in countries like Madagascar and India—which the United Nations has obviously taken a firm stance against.


Glitter alternatives



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With all this information in mind, if you're still seeking sustainable glitter alternatives BioGlitz is a company we would turn to. Helmed by New York natives Saba Gray and Rebecca Richards, through trial and error the two arrived at a glitter formula comprising of eucalyptus cellulose and coloured cosmetic pigments thats built to break down in freshwater. The first thing you'll notice is that the texture of BioGlitz is softer and since it contains no metals like aluminium, there's no friction making for an easy clean up.


The Glitter Tribe 

An Australian based glitter alternative. The Glitter Tribe also use eucalyptus cellulose from certified and responsibly managed tree farms. Like BioGlitz, The Glitter Tribe have attained OK biodegradable WATER’ Certification from TÜV, Austria.

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