How glitter in graduation photos hurt our campus

Photo courtesy of Jacob Hodges

As seniors begin celebrating graduation, many use props such as glitter and confetti to enhance graduation photos. While glitter may be sparkly and fun, all forms of plastic are harmful to the environment and can take an eternity to clean up, causing a lot of unnecessary work for Sam Houston State University landscaping services. 

Assistant director of landscape and campus services, Evan Anderson, warns students about the harm that glitter can cause. 

“When you put plastic out into the environment, especially small plastic, it will never go away,” Anderson said. “That plastic will be in the ground for thousands of years.” 

Anderson adds that animals such as birds and ducks have been found dead on campus as a result of the plastic consumed. Although the landscape department is in charge of cleaning glitter and plastic on campus, once the glitter gets in the landscape and in between cracks, they are unable to fully get it out. 

Anderson adds that more people should look into using filters or photoshop to enhance their photos, rather than using glitter outdoors where it becomes a hazard to the environment. 

Senior mass communication major Danielle Garza plans on taking her graduation photos on campus but will not be using glitter. 

“I have never really been a fan of it. I do think that glitter is harmful because it is made with plastic that can hurt the environment,” Garza said. “I think students should use other options like biodegradable glitter or rose petals to prevent harm to the campus as well as the environment.” 

While biodegradable alternatives for glitter exist, microplastics forming glitter can take centuries to biodegrade. According to Today Glitter, some glitter that claims to be eco-friendly such as compostable glitter does not biodegrade in nature. Biodegradable glitter that can be trusted should biodegrade 90% or more and should pass the freshwater test that indicates glitter will biodegrade in nature. 

The SHSU marketing department has a website that explains the harm caused by littering on campus. According to the website, some economically friendly alternatives for glitter are rose petals or leaves, biodegradable eco-glitter, photoshop overlays and bubbles. 

Students are encouraged to seek alternatives for glitter and be mindful about what they put out into the environment. 

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