A Pre-Holiday Rant: All That Glitters

[This may look familiar: I posted it last year after spending far too much time trying to clean glitter from Christmas cards and gift wrap off my body, clothing, and house. Glitter and its effect on the environment from a microplastic perspective has been in the news recently, so it seemed appropriate to republish.]

“Glitter” and “litter” are one letter off. Coincidence? I think not. Glitter is, after all, something that others foist upon you without thinking about it. The similarities don’t end there. Litter can be found in the most unexpected of places, from tranquil seaside beaches to mountain pathways. Glitter gets everywhere too: it can transfer from greeting cards or gift wrap to hands, clothing, floor, and furniture with alarming speed. Unlike litter, glitter is far harder to remove. There are only two ways I can think of to stop its spread in the home: never bring it in your house in the first place or, if you have already done so, move.

Glitter on the body is even more difficult. From one’s hands it can jump to the face, leaving a sparkly trail below an eye or maybe a smattering of shine that reflects like a disco ball, causing friends and family to comment for the next two or three decades, “You have a little bit of glitter … right … there”. Why this obsession at the holidays with something that can basically be described as shiny dirt? Every other Christmas card I opened was covered in a layer of sparkle that activated my body’s fear of contamination, and please don’t get me started on the wrapping paper—I still have flashbacks.

This rant does have a more serious side: glitter and metallic wrapping paper cannot be recycled, nor can glittery cards. So please, next Christmas, ditch the glitter and stick with the classics. Both the environment and I will thank you.

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