So, the glitter and microplastic issue continues!

A few months ago I contacted the textile and apparel editor of a prominent printing industry online magazine and explained my quest to persuade textile screen printers to stop using glitter. She agreed to publish an article on the topic. I considered such an article about the glitter and microplastic problem in a prominent industry magazine a breakthrough, especially as another industry magazine chooses to turn a blind eye and still irresponsibly publishes articles promoting glitter prints.

The article was published. Unfortunately, it did little for my quest though and was actually disappointing for three main reasons.

First disappointment: After accurately listing the ecological problems associated with traditional aluminum and plastic glitter, she inaccurately suggested using “biodegradable” alternatives from two German manufacturers. I checked out their websites. One of the manufacturers makes a polyester glitter which is also a microplastic problem, and the other makes a plant-based glitter only for face and body applications specifically for the “party scene”—it has nothing at all to do with the textile industry.

Second disappointment: A footnote to the article says that the author wrote it with the assistance of Google’s Bard, an AI platform. Clearly, she did no research into the manufacturers Bard incorrectly included, thereby undermining the credibility of her article.

Third disappointment: When I pointed all of this out to her, the response was, “Oh well.”  That’s it. No apology or correction offered. Just. “Oh well.”

The quest continues, but in the meantime, we’ve learned a couple of things from this exercise. First, so far there appears to be no legitimate “biodegradable” alternative to plastic and aluminum glitter and it’s hard to see how there could ever be—to be “biodegradable” the glitter would have to be water soluble, which makes it unsuited to any garment that has to be washed. And second, it’s probably a good idea to be a little skeptical about what we read in industry magazines, especially if it’s written with the assistnce of AI.