Person of the Planet- All That Glitters: By Elena Caruthers

I read an article recently that gave me pause. I had become aware some time ago that “micro beads”, the tiny little plastic beads that are sometimes added to beauty products to facilitate exfoliation, eventually get flushed into our rivers and oceans and contribute to the devastating plastic pollution that is becoming widespread in the food chain.  These micro beads were banned a couple of years ago by the Obama administration because they are so tiny they slip into the oceans and landfill like water and are not processed in any way to make them safe. Hurrah! I had thought. But I did not make the leap to glitter, which had not been banned.  My awareness was definitely raised with the article, which I have referenced below. Okay, I thought, I can avoid glitter.  But I love glitter, especially in the holiday season. This was brought home to me just yesterday when I started opening my boxes of Christmas decorations. I bought a bunch of beautiful glittered pinecones, just last year, and was really looking forward to using them again this year.  There they were, as lovely as last year. In the box was about a teaspoon of loose glitter, which really took me aback.  What should I do? Anthony and I decided that as long as the glitter stayed contained and did not get into the sewer or even loose in the landfill, it was OK to keep and use what I already have, but to avoid my natural attraction to glitter. When I am finally ready to dispose of glittery things, I can think of no solution but to make sure that the loose glitter is imbedded somehow into a matrix, perhaps of glue.  I don’t know yet what is best. But I will not just throw it into the garbage or somehow into the sewer system.

Micro beads and other micro plastics, like glitter, are responsible for a myriad of problems for the planet and its humans. These tiny, and it turns out, toxic, particles are consumed by organisms at the bottom of the food chain, affecting the health of all of the organisms in the food chain. By the time food gets to us, the toxins have become concentrated.  Micro plastics have been found in many types of food and in drinking water. They can cause “adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological and immune effects” in all of the creatures along the way, including us. Fortunately, studies are being done to determine the harm these micro plastics are doing to all of us. If you’d like to read the article, the link to the article is