One of the world’s largest LGBT pride parades, the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras, has banned the sparkly stuff synonymous with the parade for decades in an effort to be more environmentally friendly.
Organisers have taken up the sustainability mantle this year in phasing out glitter as well as banning balloons and single-use plastic water bottles from all major events. Chief executive Terese Casu said the event had previously used around three tonnes of glitter imported from China every year.
“That goes in the gutter, it ends up in our oceans, our fish eat it, you find it in crab shells and oysters,” Casu said. “We must be responsible and make really urgent changes.”
Glitter is made from sheets of thin plastic such as PET, which is coated in a reflective substance like aluminium before being cut into millions of tiny microplastic pieces. Microplastics can easily find their way into the food chain both on land and the ocean, where their impact on wildlife is yet to be fully understood.
Like any other plastic, glitter is made from fossil fuels and therefore its production also has a substantial carbon footprint. For these reasons, environmentalists have in recent years called upon the events industry to ban glitter and other plastics. Numerous festivals in Australia discourage the use of single-use plastics but Mardi Gras will become the first to completely ban glitter.
The lack of glitter won’t mean a lack of shine and sparkle however, with organising helping parade floats go glitter-free by encouraging the use of fluorescent lights, LEDs and Lanterns as alternatives. Production manager Liz Carter said in the current era it was important for any event organisers to be mindful of their carbon footprint.
“There are cleverer ways of achieving something that sparkles and shines without the glitter,” Carter said.
- Get involved in the range of fantastic events involved in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, one of the city’s most iconic festivals. If getting dressed up for it, try to use second-hand or recycled items where possible.
- Check RecyclingNearYou for information on how to recycle or responsibly dispose of plastic waste and keep on the lookout for the Australasian Recycling Label, an evidence based system showing you how to correctly recycle packaging.
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Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.