Festival season is upon us, with many getting underway at the end of this month. If you plan to paint your face in glitter, how aware are you of it’s environmental consequences? Unfortunately many high-street glitter brands are adding to today’s growing microplastic crisis. Increasing evidence shows that if you wash your face from glitter after a festival, these tiny plastic particles are washing straight from your sink and out to the sea.
We spoke to our partners EcoGlitterFun, who were one of the first brands to try, test and market a biodegradable glitter product. Determined to make sparkles glamorous and guilt-free, this innovative brand gives us an insight into how they prove their product’s authenticity in an age of false labelling and greenwashing.
What inspired your decision to start Eco Glitter Fun? Which environmental concerns were a driving force behind your idea?
After discovering glitter was a microplastic in the summer of 2016 I was determined to find an alternative. I found a company called Ronald Britton Ltd who were manufacturing their newly developed biodegradable alternative made from a modified regenerated cellulose film, Bioglitter®. This glitter was fairly unheard of with just a couple of companies globally purchasing from them and selling to end users. The companies I found were selling in plastic pots, which seemed absolutely crazy to me. So, this is how the idea of Eco Glitter Fun was born. Eco-friendly glitter in plastic-free packaging. We also use eco glitter to begin the discussion on more serious plastic pollution and consumption topics.
Tell us a bit more about the glitter product you sell:
We are licensed resellers of both Bioglitter® PURE and Bioglitter® SPARKLE.
Bioglitter® PURE is 100% plastic- free and Certified ‘OK Biodegradable WATER’ by TÜV, a world first. Bioglitter® SPARKLE is 92% plastic-free and independently tested to prove they both actually degrade in the natural freshwater environments and not just an industrial or home composter.
Bioglitter® PURE and Bioglitter® SPARKLE offer the consumer two different glitter looks. Nevertheless both are made from a unique Modified Regenerated Cellulose and once in the natural environment microbes will consume the biodegradable content over a period of weeks and months.
Bioglitter® PURE passed the Fresh Water ISO14851 testing at 92% in 28 days and the Bioglitter® SPARKLE is only 3% away from passing at 87%. You can read more about the testing criteria here. https://www.discoverbioglitter.com/what-does-ok-biodegradable-water-certification-mean/
In an age of greenwashing how do you communicate to your customers that what you do is different?
There are a lot of companies claiming their glitter is biodegradable however it is mostly not the case. Biodegradable is just a word and doesn’t actually mean anything, unless qualified. What is more important is; how much of the content biodegrades? Over how long? What conditions are required for it?
The correct level of independent testing and verification of results is needed to prove claims. Some of the other glitters on the market claiming to be biodegradable do have a cellulose component however are made from PLA, Cellulose Acetate or Cellophane. As they do not degrade in the natural environment for example a farmer’s field, wastewater, lakes or rivers.
They are no better than plastic.
How can you tell the difference between actual Bioglitter® and “fake” biodegradable glitter?
Bioglitter® only comes in a hexagon shape, it does not come in stars, circles or hearts and is not holographic or iridescent. All those shapes are still in development at Ronald Britton Ltd.
You can also do a basic test to see whether your glitter has a plastic base. Heat or burn the glitter product. If it melts and sticks to the surface it’s on, the glitter mainly contains plastic. It’s easiest to put the glitter on a sheet of aluminium foil and heat with a naked flame from beneath.
Unfortunately, this test DOES NOT work with cellophane.
Top tip: make sure to only purchase glitter from companies licensed to use Bioglitter® branding.
What message would you like to send to the beauty industry? An industry often targeted as not doing enough when it comes to plastic waste?
Consumers are crying out for alternatives. They want refillable products, they want the option of closed-loop recycling. Endless free samples in plastic packaging are no longer acceptable. Companies are starting to take notice, but until the biggest cosmetic companies participate it will be difficult to break consumer habits.