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Living Less Unsustainably: All that glitters does not decompose

A bright Mylar balloon is tangled up in a snowy tree
John Fischer
John Fischer regularly finds Mylar balloons stuck in trees while hiking or backcountry skiing.

Hi All, master of “if I don't use this, I won't even need to figure out how to recycle it”- John Fischer here with KLCC's Living Less Unsustainably.

If you want to cause as much micro plastic damage to the environment as possible take large thin sheets of polyurethane terephthalate, coat them with aluminum, or titanium dioxide, then break them into tiny pieces, and scatter them everywhere, indoors and outside- knowing they will last for decades - or longer.

Sure, glitter is pretty - pretty bad for the environment. There are "Biodegradable" glitters, but many will only break down in a commercial composting environment, meaning you will need to pick it all up after you scatter it which isn't easy- you missed a glit over there by the couch.

Some glitters are truly biodegradable - others contain mica which can cause fibrosis - lung scarring - I guess it might be worth it.

But while glitter is not our biggest environmental concern, it begs the questions "Can I live without glitter?" "What is your glitter?" and "Can I find glitter somewhere else?"

In reverse order, the sun shining on the bare branches of the pear tree this morning was as stunning as any ten second glitter bomb display.

Whether it's a throw away cup for your coffee every morning, or a Mylar balloon for valentine’s day, there is a lot of glitter that we don't even realize we have been convinced to think we need - when we don't. On a side note, I regularly find Mylar balloons stuck in trees while hiking, or backcountry skiing.

Glitter can be huge - a 5,000 square foot second home - that is rarely occupied. Or glitter can be small - a second multi-tool in case - ok for when - I can't find the first one.

So today, you can tell yourself where to find some new environmentally friendly glitter - nature is a great place to look, or what glitter to stop using that's really nothing more than a shiny distraction.

John Fischer is a Master Gardener and Master Recycler and the host of KLCC's Good Gardening and Living Less Unsustainably.