The scoop on Biodegradable Glitter and Plant-Based Compostable Glitters
Regular Polyester glitters are micro-plastic particles. Plastic is a petroleum-based product, meaning made from non-renewable resources. The lifespan of traditional plastic is unknown for certain, but we know that without incineration, it will remain in nature indefinitely. It’s hard to imagine a future without plastic, as nothing has been invented to completely replace everything that is currently made with plastic. But it’s important that we at least try to do better and to seek alternatives when available.
At this time, there are currently only 2 (possibly 3) companies on the entire planet that manufacture eco-friendly glitters. Only one company makes the Ocean-safe Biodegradable glitters and the other companies make the Compostable glitters. All companies that distribute glitter labeled as biodegradable, are distributing for one of these 2 or 3 companies, under their own brand.
Not all glitter that is marked as biodegradable, is truly as biodegradable as we’d like. It’s not that companies are intentionally trying to be dishonest, it’s just that bio-films were previously used to make products that would be disposed of in an industrial composting environment, and the idea of making glitter with the films was not part of the original concept. The film manufacturers still refer to it as biodegradable, and unless consumers are willing to do some thorough scientific research for themselves, they can only trust what they are being told by the manufacturers. To avoid the appearance of “Green-washing,” we intend to be as transparent as possible with regards to these products.
Biodegradable Glitter is made from sustainably sourced eucalyptus tree cellulose. It can degrade in nature within several months and is deemed “Ocean Safe.” This is the glitter that shows the least harmful impact on the environment and is the best option, particularly when you (or your clients) feel that the glitter waste may end up in public waterways. At the moment, the cost is quite high, and the variety available is quite low, but we hope that with continued interest, more manufacturers will get on board with the biodegradable movement.
Plant-Based Compostable Glitter is a non-plastic glitter, made from plant-based cellulose, such as corn. But due to the manufacturing process (which is designed to create a more durable product), it only degrades in an industrial composting environment. Wastewater treatment facilities do an excellent job of filtering out microplastic, so we have no doubts that they also can filter out this type of glitter. The filtered waste from water treatment facilities is then essentially in an industrial composting environment which should degrade the plant-based glitters. Studies have shown that wastewater treatment facilities are NOT a significant source for microplastic being released into public waterways. Therefore, compostable glitters that are washed down a shower drain, in most cases, are not a concern for marine health.
While Plant-Based Compostable glitter is not an ideal care-free product, with regards to eco-friendliness, it does address some of the concerns and is a step in the right direction. It is made with renewable resources, can degrade in an appropriate environment, and has a shorter lifespan than traditional plastic. The cost, while still higher than traditional glitter, is much lower than the fully biodegradable glitters, and is therefore more accessible to artists. As they say….Pick your battles, and just do your best. Every little bit helps.
Biodegradable and Plant-Based Compostable glitters need to be kept in airtight storage conditions as humidity can cause clumping. Usually this does not impact the performance of the glitter itself, but depending on how you apply it, you may have issues with applicators not handling the clumps well. The ultra-fine particles have been tested in an aloe gel base and can have a shelf life of at least several months once mixed. Larger particle sizes (.025” and larger), will tend to curl in a gel base, within a short amount of time and should only be mixed into gel as you are ready to use it. Mixing the glitters into a wax/oil based product (such as our Glitter Crème Base) does not seem to negatively affect any of the glitters.
Our biodegradable and compostable glitter stock is not as consistent as we’d like, due to the expense and the limited distribution systems for purchasing it. We will do our best to keep the website updated with in-stock quantities. In keeping with environmental concerns, we are packaging our bulk biodegradable and plant-based compostable glitters in recyclable ziplock bags. We have, in the past, offered these glitters in bottles, but due to the time-consuming nature of filling the product, which only adds to the cost and material consumption, we have decided to discontinue selling bottled eco glitters. These will be available only while supplies last.
We will now only sell eco glitters in 1/2oz, 1oz bags and 4oz or 1lb bags (when available). These will be packaged by actual product weight, rather than volume, meaning you will have more glitter in a 1/2oz bag of glitter than you previously would have received in a 1/2oz bottle of glitter. We will offer empty packaging on this page for your convenience, and we hope that reusing packaging will help keep more trash from entering landfills.
Thank you for joining us while we begin our path towards a more sustainable future. Every journey begins with a single step.
As an alternative to biodegradable (or traditional) glitters, you might consider mica powders which are a mineral-based product that is eco-friendly for both land and sea environments.