Glitter loses lustre in Richmond following arts centre ban
Published Friday, June 7, 2019 6:12PM PDT Last Updated Friday, June 7, 2019 7:00PM PDT
Glitter is a common art supply that adds sparkle to all kinds of occasions, but it's no longer welcome at one Richmond arts facility.
Like other microplastics, experts warn glitter may be harmful to marine life, which prompted the vice president of the Richmond Artist Guild to voice her concerns.
"It isn’t just a vacuuming nuisance. It is also a danger, so why not get rid of it?" Loraine Wellman told CTV News.
Wellman said she was inspired when she saw the United Kingdom’s campaign to get rid of glitter and shared her concerns at a recent guild meeting.
She said she was pleasantly surprised to learn that shortly after, the instructors at the Richmond Arts Centre began to phase it out.
"I’m pleased that it is happening so quickly," she said. "I think we should all be doing what we can for the environment."
The move has compelled the City of Richmond to take a hard look at boycotting it for its other city programs.
"There’s been a growing concern of the environmental and health impacts of glitter, like we are seeing with many plastic products," said Ted Townsend, a spokesperson for the city.
Staff has been directed to examine safe, affordable alternatives to glitter.
"We’ll have to take some time to identify what the options are and then we will determine what the next steps are," he said.
Natalie Mahara, a UBC lab technician studying microplastics, said any initiative to get rid of plastics is a positive step.
"I think glitter is a really good starting point, it may not be the main contributor to plastic or microplastic pollution, but it’s certainly one of them," she explained.
She said microplastics are harmful to marine life because they're often coated with a chemical or toxin.
"When they get into the environment, organisms are exposed to that plastic. They can consume that plastic with the BPA," Mahara said.
Glitter will officially be eliminated at the Richmond Arts Centre on June 24.