Music Festivals Are Banning Glitter, and It’s Hard to Be Mad About It

Person with body glitter
[Credit: Twitter/thegypsyshrine]

It turns out Smashmouth was wrong: all that glitters isn’t gold.

In fact, sometimes what glitters is actually just trash, according over 60 music festivals who have banned the use of plastic-based glitter. The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) in the UK has just announced that all of its members will eliminate single-use plastics by 2021, including everyone’s favourite sparkly accessory.

See, it turns out that there’s another, less fun word for glitter: microplastics. Sadly, your body glitter is the ocean’s worst nightmare. These small plastics make their way into water systems and end up in lakes and oceans, choking out wildlife and never-ever-ever biodegrading.

Glitter has been big at music festivals in recent years. In fact, “boob glitter” was one of the trending topics at Coachella this year (and yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like). But at least in the UK, festival runners are deciding the Earth comes first. The AIF’s “Drastic on Plastic” campaign will start with banning straws, eventually moving on to eliminate the environmental holy grails of water bottles and glitter.

It may be hard for some to imagine a music festival without water bottles. But then, it’s also hard to imagine an ocean without fish, which is the worst-case scenario if humans keep dumping plastic indefinitely.

“This is exactly the sort of work the AIF needs to be doing — leading the global charge against essentially unnecessary plastic at all our festivals,” said Rob da Bank, cofounder of Bestival.

“Festivals inspire change in people, so we just need to take the steps collectively and create the new normal — a better normal,” said Chris Johnson of Shambala Festival.

But if you simply cannot make it through a festival without glitter, never fear: the free market is here. Already, companies are jumping in to meet demand with biodegradable glitter. At this point, it’s still a little pricier than its plastic alternative, but that may change as demand grows. And hey, if you can afford Coachella, you can afford to spend a few extra bucks on glitter.