The Glitter Hangover…What Happens After The Festival?
5th November 2018
Credit to Bensounds.com
The Rise of Glitter and Its Imminent Doom:
After another summer comes to a close, the festival season with its elaborate outfits, flamboyant make up and crazy behaviour is put away for the colder months. But will the same fashion trends return? Even when people are aware of the environmental impacts?
The popularity in wearing glitter pretty much everywhere has risen with festival attendees over past years, so has the amount of research into how this affects our planet. Will this fun craze of covering beards, covering faces and even swapping clothes for glitter come to an end? It’s no secret that music festivals have negative impacts on the environment, is it the Event Manager’s job to change this?
So What Actually Is In Our Glitter?
Most glitter is made up of tiny bits of coloured shiny plastic called microplastics, meaning glitter is mainly plastic with aluminium foil bonded to it, making it shiny. The plastic used to make glitter which we love to use so much is non–biodegradable, such as copolymer plastic or aluminium foil. This means we cannot recycle any glitter we use in festivals, makeup, body scrubs etc. Various companies make glitter different ways – it is primarily composed of very tiny flecks of glass, stone, paper, plastic or polyester. The most standard way to make glitter is with tiny bits of PET and aluminium foil, however sadly PET is a plastic made up of cancer causing toxins. Plastic is less than five millimetres in diameter which means they are too small to breakdown, therefore ending up in landfill or down drains into oceans. Researchers such as Dr Trisia Farrelly and Anas Ghadouani claimed glitter is a global hazard from toxins and the chemicals that it releases while in the ocean. It is estimated that 51 trillion pieces of microplastic have entered the oceans, which pass through the food chain to eventually end up in the food we eat.
Not so pretty now?
Everyone knows the damage created by plastic. Shops in the UK now charge for plastic bags, #savetheturtles is used at every turn on social media, and petitions are popping up to reduce the amount of plastic used in our everyday lives. But what about our festivals? Glittery outfits, glittery hair, and glittery make up… you name it, we put glitter on it. In fact, once the festival season has been and gone, approximately 85% of micro plastics found in the environment have come from this festival fashion trend. So why is it this trend still stands strong despite the global movement on reducing plastic pollution?
So what should we do about it? Festivals have promised to ban glitter in the near future but is that the best option? Dr Thompson, a Marine Biology professor at Plymouth University suggested a ban is “premature”. Thompson has suggested instead of a ban, we should first consider the idea of proper product use. This comes after he conducted an experiment which could not prove the micro plastics found in marine life originally came from our glitter.
However, according to the National Geographic, scientists are becoming increasingly concerned about the effects of glitter, explaining micro plastics have the ability to starve sea birds once it gets into their stomachs.
So this poses a debate; should we ban glitter based on a lack of concrete evidence of how it’s affecting our marine life, or should we see how far down the line we get before we are able to find that evidence?
Events Banning Glitter and How Event Managers Can Overcome These Obstacles:
The sheer volume of glitter that is used at festivals makes it the perfect place to start to improve and change the type of glitter that we use.
Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) run a ‘Drastic on Plastic’ campaign with 60+ members including; Bestival, Boomtown, Boardmasters, Rewind and Secret Garden Party. This initiative aims to target single use plastics which includes; drinks and toiletry bottles, straws, food trays, cable ties and glitter. Commercially produced glitter will fall under this ban because it is made from the micro plastic PET. Is your event part of this association and campaign stopping the use of plastic? Would the consumer be more drawn to your event if it was acting more responsible?
Biodegradable glitter is the alternative we are encouraging festival-goers to use. It looks and feels exactly the same, but does not harm the environment. Stephen Cotton, a British scientist, has helped to create a biodegradable eco-glitter which is made from eucalyptus tree extract and aluminium. Cotton worries that festival-goers may be less likely to purchase this as they may not believe it will be as durable as regular glitter. However, this eco-glitter is biodegradable meaning very little will end up in our oceans. Event managers only allowing biodegradable glitter at their events would make a major statement in their aim to be more sustainable and environmentally aware. Festival organisers are forcing traders to only allow biodegradable glitter onsite at their festival, which can make consumers more aware of alternatives and eliminate these environmental problems.
The glitter is stored in recyclable plastic dispensers and the actual glitter is 92% plastic free as well as marine and wastewater biodegradable. With this invention of biodegradable glitter, surely there is no reason for festivals to allow the use of regular glitter? But as an event manager, how easy is it to prevent the use of regular glitter at festivals? This depends on how you, as an event manager, go about the ban. The brilliant thing about festival fashion is creativity, so you can go wild with these ideas, however here’s one for you; offer biodegradable glitter make overs on site. These can be run low cost by volunteers, and you can even charge a charitable donation for the make overs in order to make your event that little bit more environmentally friendly.
So, Event Managers everywhere, is this our responsibility? What are you going to do to help with this issue?