Glitter gets a free pass in our minds, while microplastics, fibers, and beads do not. Understandable when eight-hundred trillion microbeads are washed away daily, ten-thousand of those from the plastic particles in an “exfoliating” face wash used during daily showers. Fifteen billion tons of microplastics end up in the ocean each day. That is the same weight as sixty-thousand blue whales. Most of those water samples trace the debris back to microfibers. As only 9 percent of plastics are recycled each year, this is an inescapable and pressing issue that can only be fixed through reducing consumption habibs. You may have bought a reusable water bottle to cut back on plastic, but the drinking water inside is still filled with plastic chemicals.
There is an innate connection and attachment people have to their precious sparkles. Giving up glitter means losing a source of happiness for individuals. It is not associated with being a threat to the environment because of its aesthetically pleasing shine, blinding people to the harsh reality that in the past five years, ten million pounds of glitter was purchased in the United States alone. Five-thousand million more tons of plastic added to the already contaminated salt water body on top of the present fifteen billion. People have consumed enough glitter to weigh down forty school buses.
Recently, many whales have been struggling to survive, unable to swim or breathe. Accidentally, they have eaten up to twenty pounds of plastic debris. A few months ago, a pilot whale in Thailand was rescued after holding onto a buoy to stay afloat, during the rescue the whale threw up seven plastic shopping bags. All of that plastic was clogging its digestion track from the real nutritional diet it desperately needed. Thousands of other animals are experiencing this same thing. Whale and Dolphin Conservation director, Regina Asmutis-Silvia pleads, “We have no idea how many animals aren’t showing up on a beach. This is one pilot whale, this doesn’t consider other species. It’s symbolic at best, but it’s symbolic of an incredibly significant problem.” In addition, Dr. Amaral-Zettler, a senior scientist at the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research explains how plastic waste can “also serve as a transport mechanism for invasive species. Even on a microscopic level, marine microbes often live on plastic debris in a world referred to as the “plastisphere”.”
Glitter is on the forefront of this plastic pollution epidemic as it continues to hide under the radar. Cut open a piece of salmon from that trendy seafood restaurant in New York City and you may not see a pile of plastic and glitter pouring out but there is a good chance you are ingesting these particles. Fishes filled with plastic bottle caps, straws, and glitter in their gut is a gruesome reality of where our trash is going out into the depths of the ocean and then back onto our plates, even if it is invisible. It is like anything harmful in this world, if we don’t see it, it is easy to choose to ignore; therefore, it might be too late before people realize the harm glitter is causing.
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