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Eco Glitter Could Be The Sparkling Solution To A Crippling Waste Problem

How a DJ, a drag queen, and a eucalyptus tree came together to inspire the new frontier in glitter products.

Prior to its ban in 2019, glitter and Mardi Gras went together like feathers and floats. But new innovations in the sustainable beauty space mean that we can sparkle once again. And this time, without the guilt.

The organisers behind the annual Sydney Gay and Lesgian Mardi Gras last year announced that glitter would be banned from the celebrations in an effort to phase out the use of single-use plastics.

"We used to bring in about three tonnes of glitter from China," Mardi Gras CEO Terese Casu told the Sydney Morning Herald at the time.

"That goes in the gutter, it ends up in our oceans, our fish eat it, you find it in crab shells and oysters. We must be responsible and make really urgent changes."

Glitter has long been a mainstay at the event, Image: Getty

Most commonly, glitter is made from etched aluminium bonded to polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

The sparkly substance may look harmless, but it qualifies as a microplastic -- a plastic piece smaller than five millimeters that has the potential to cause great damage to our water systems and marine life.

In mid 2019, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) commissioned researchers at the University of Newcastle to investigate the prevalence of microplastics in Australia's water systems.

According to the study, we are ingesting roughly 2,000 tiny pieces of plastic every single week. That equates to over 250 grams in our bodies a year.

It really takes the shine out of glitter when you comprehend the extent of the damage it can inflict. But we don't have to do a way with the stuff altogether.

A number of Aussie innovators are broaching the problem with solutions that are as sustainable as they are absolutely dazzling.

A Beautiful Weirdo founder, Charlotte Coker. Image: Instagram

For Byron Bay local Charlotte Coker, an encounter with a drag queen laid the foundation for a business model that is all party in the front, conscience in the back.

"I actually used to DJ for a drag queen and he used to try to dress me up as a mermaid, and I was just not okay with the glitter thing," Charlotte told 10 daily.

"So I was like, this is my time, this is my product that I really want to push forward."

Charlotte is the founder of A Beautiful Weirdo, an eco glitter company that offers products entirely plastic-free.

To counter the microplastic problem, glitter that is completely biodegradable in water is becoming increasingly more accessible. And Charlotte's business takes it one step further.

"It's actually a waste product," said Charlotte. The glitter is made from regenerated cellulose, a plant derived ingredient extracted from eucalyptus that is grown in managed plantations. It's applied with aloe vera gel, as opposed to standard glue and adhesives.

The glitter problem is a very small percentage of the overall plastic problem, but because it's extravagant it gets a bad name. But in a way, that's a positive.

The Mardi Gras glitter boycott certainly doesn't solve the plastic problem, but it does encourage local businesses to think outside the box to produce products that are every bit as sustainable as they are enjoyable.

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Featured Image: Getty 

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