United Nations’ Ocean Day is celebrated on the 8th of June every year. This year’s theme is “The Tides are Changing, Put the Ocean First.” Despite our complete reliance on the ocean and the breadth and depth of what it provides for us, the ocean only receives a small portion of our attention and resources. For centuries, we have utilised it as a reservoir to dilute industrial pollutants, solid waste, and chemical waste, resulting in over 500 dead zones around the globe.
Glitters are tiny microplastic (MPs) particles. Although they shine, they are also litter and end up in our oceans. They not only deteriorate the ecological health of the world’s largest ecosphere but also disrupt marine life. The life of a tiny mussel trying to adapt on a beach or a newly hatched fragile shrimp is surely more beautiful and significant than glimmering eyeshadow or twinkling nail polish that will be flushed out and make its way into the marine environment.
The market offers more than 20,000 different glitter variations in a range of colours, sizes, and materials. Plastic, colouring agents, and reflective materials, including aluminium, titanium dioxide, iron oxide, and bismuth oxychloride, are combined to create flat, multi-layered sheets which are then cut into tiny pieces. Unlike MPs, glitter particles are coated with potentially hazardous chemicals that could be released into the atmosphere as a result of the weathering process. Based on their physical characteristics, size, and shape, the definition of plastic glitter is consistent with the definition of microplastics. This is why glitters are widely used in experimental studies to examine the impacts of MPs on marine organisms. The most significant threat posed by glitter is that it is dispersed on the ground, drifts into drains, and then spreads. Hence, it is no coincidence that glitter is often found in wastewater treatment plants and the sediments of aquatic ecosystems.
Many preschools and nurseries in the United Kingdom have stopped using glitter in art projects in order to protect the world’s oceans after the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015. Similarly, the use of microbeads and glitter is banned in toothpastes and other washable cosmetics in many countries worldwide. As a coastal nation, it is essential to take strict and thoughtful mitigation measures to conserve our territorial waters and marine life from all types of plastic waste.
World Oceans Day allows individuals, communities, and organisations to come together to highlight the importance of ocean conservation and sustainable practices. It acts as a forum to raise awareness of the myriad risks to the oceans, such as pollution, overfishing, habitat destruction, and climate change, while also promoting solutions and encouraging collaborative action to address these issues.
Ladies—as a woman, I say it’s high time that we considered the necessity of excessive glitter in order to ‘shine’. It is crucial to acknowledge that all glitter constitutes litter, posing a significant threat to our planet’s oceans and marine life.