‘Tis the season to be jolly, and it’s been a(nother) tough old year… so for this round-up of planet-positive news, we decided to look on the lighter side and dig out stories with a cinnamon-scented festive feel.
Scientists have discovered truly biodegradable glitter that’s made from fruit and can be produced at mass-scale.
Glitter is pretty, sparkly and synonymous with the festive season. Unfortunately, it’s also usually made from plastic. This means the glitter on your Christmas card or in your gift wrap is actually ready-made microplastics, which leach into our waterways, causing many issues and ending up entering our food chain.
Thankfully, some clever researchers at the University of Cambridge have found a way to make sustainable, non-toxic, vegan and biodegradable glitter from cellulose, which is found in the cell walls of plants, fruits and vegetables. And the best part for human versions of magpies, like me? It’s just as sparkly and colourful as its plastic alternative.
Now for the science part.
The glitter’s vivid colours are due to the cellulose nanocrystals it is made from, which can bend light to create vivid colours – the same phenomenon that produces the bright colours of a butterfly’s wings, or a peacock’s feathers. Researchers are able to use self-assembly techniques to produce intensely-coloured films from the cellulose, which could replace plastic glitter particles, as well the tiny mineral effect pigments used in the cosmetics industry.
Professor Silvia Vignolini from Cambridge’s Yusuf Hamied Department of Chemistry, the paper’s senior author, was quoted in Science Daily saying: “Conventional pigments, like your everyday glitter, are not produced sustainably. They get into the soil, the ocean and contribute to an overall level of pollution. Consumers are starting to realise that while glitters are fun, they also have real environmental harms […] We believe this product could revolutionise the cosmetics industry by providing a fully sustainable, biodegradable and vegan pigment and glitter.”
We are all searching for a ‘sustainable Christmas’.
Searches for ‘sustainable Christmas’ were predicted to increase by 1,700 percent between 5th and 11th December 2021, according to an analysis of Google search data carried out by Printique, whilst research by Superdry has found that searches for eco-friendly festivities have increased by 133 percent compared to last year.
Some of the top terms Brits are searching for at the festive time of the year include ‘plantable Christmas cards’ (up 133 percent), ‘reusable Christmas crackers’ (up 127 percent), ‘plant-based glitter’ (up 100 percent) and ‘reusable advent calendar’ (up 89 percent).
And the sentiment is similar Down Under, according to Pinterest, which has released data that shows a significant spike in searches for sustainable Christmas decorations and sustainable gift ideas.
For those on the hunt for tips on how to have a more eco-friendly, sustainable Christmas, we got you! You can download your FREE copy of our beautiful e-magazine ‘How to have a very conscious Christmas, right HERE.
Post-lockdown Christmas set to be a greener one.
After much of the world had to forfeit time with friends and family in December 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s probably no surprise that we’re planning on a big celebration this year. Luckily, rather than a case of ‘go big or go home’ mentality, it seems many of us have placed our impact on the environment at the forefront of our minds, whilst planning the festivities.
A survey of 3,000 adults by Lakeland in the UK found that 31 percent of people are planning to avoid glitter this year, whilst just over a quarter will be buying fewer gifts and almost three quarters (74 percent) will be trying to waste less food when preparing their Christmas meal.
According to research by British bank Barclays, spend at independent food and drink businesses has increased by 58 percent when comparing 2021 figures with 2019. 46 percent of those surveyed said they had become more climate-conscious this festive season, due to the media attention on protecting the planet throughout the year. 35 percent said they checked the sustainability credentials of the shops they are ordering from before purchasing, and three in ten (30 percent) are going out of their way to buy food that is organically or sustainably sourced.