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Glitter’s Dark Secret

Lies and Greenwashing in the ‘Eco-Friendly’ Glitter Industry.

issue nine : here comes the night

By Kat Nugent

As the days get shorter and the nights grow longer, many of us are coming to terms with the end of summer and looking back on fond memories of the past sun-soaked months. Saying goodbye to summer also means bidding farewell to another festival season, but with over 4 million people having taken part in these events across the UK this year, their impact – specifically on the environment – won’t be going anywhere for a long time to come. 

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While the wide-spread implementation of plastic-reduction initiatives were promising signs of a brighter and more eco-conscious future for festivals, this year’s season exposed a dark side of the beauty industry when it comes to one sparkly festival favourite – glitter. 

In summer last year, over 60 British music festivals committed to banning single-use plastic by 2021 including the outlawing of non-biodegradable glitter. The response from many glitter makeup brands was alarming. Rather than reinventing their products to comply with the new environmentally conscious standards, some unscrupulous companies have chosen instead to look for loopholes or simply lie to their consumers about their green credentials by making fake claims about their product’s biodegradability. 

Stephen Cotton, Commercial Director at Ronald Britton Ltd, the manufacturers of the world’s first plastic-free glitter, Bioglitter™ PURE said: “Greenwashing is a frustrating and major issue for us. We know of a number of glitter products and glitter sellers targeting the festivals market who are making misleading and dishonest claims about the eco-credentials of their products, when in fact the raw material in some cases is simply plastic glitter.”

It’s All About Context

The glitter-specific deceit leads to a gloomier concern around brand honesty and integrity when it comes to environmental claims in a world where ‘going green’ and ‘eco-friendly’ are becoming marketing buzz words to attract an increasingly environmentally-aware consumer base. Sophie Awdry from Eco Glitter Fun highlights the complexity of the science behind the ‘eco-friendly’ term which leaves it open to being abused and manipulated by some companies who chose to hide in the grey areas of the topic. She explains, “There are a lot of companies claiming their glitter is biodegradable, but biodegradable is just a word and doesn’t actually mean anything, unless qualified in terms of how much biodegrades, over how long, and in what conditions. If it takes 100 years to biodegrade, if just one small part of the product biodegrades or it needs composting conditions, then it’s not eco-friendly in terms of the natural environment.”

Sadly, what is proven is that we can’t always trust the tags and labels that these beauty companies attribute to their products. When it comes to makeup, all that glitters isn’t always gold and as conscious consumers, we have a responsibility to look a bit further than what’s slapped on the label – to dig a little deeper than taking an ‘eco-friendly’ stamp at face value. 

Conscious Consumption

Thankfully, we’ve got some trusted insight right at our fingertips that can shine some light on the issue, and illuminate the truth that is too often hidden in the shadows. As the principal supplier of the biodegradable glitter world-wide, Ronald Britton Ltd has established its own scheme to help consumers be assured that their sparkles aren’t going to cost the earth. If you’re in doubt about whether the glitter you’re thinking about purchasing for your next event is genuinely eco-friendly, just take a look on their website.

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not contaminated, polluted, or tainted: the paper was untainted by age.

UNTAINTED is a directional beauty platform, pushing the boundaries of clean, sustainable beauty. We are inspired and motivated by the Japanese philosophy of Wabi-sabi.

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