Hi. My name is Danielle. I’m 5 and I can’t wait for Christmas. It’s a very sparkly time of the year. All the decorations and wrapping paper, the lights in the shops. I love it cause Santa’s going to come. I’ve been a good girl. We’ll probably make some lovely things at school with glitter on them. That’s what we usually do…
We all love a bit of bling. It’s well-documented that unless you’re prepared to walk around with glitter permanently stuck to your face and under your finger nails, you simply aren’t worthy of a job in Early Years. In fact, prior to founding My Recycled Classroom, we were no strangers to throwing a liberal dash of glitter into pretty much every activity and area we set up. We do love a bit of glitter.
What we didn’t know and do now, is that glitter is formed of microplastics that can find their way into our oceans. Research conducted by the University of Plymouth found microplastics in a third of UK-caught fish (The Guardian). Microplastics now are also found in 90 percent of table salt (National Geographic) and unsurprisingly particles are also being discovered in the digestive systems of people across the globe (The New York Times).
Horror statistics over. Glitter obviously is a very small part of the plastics problem. But where does it end up when we wash it down the drain or sweep up the remnants after an art activity? Could there be alternatives that are more environmentally sound or that encompass reuse, that we could be offering to our learners? Could talking about glitter and microplastics be an accessible, relevant way to engage with young children about the plastic problem? Talking about single-use plastics and the process of recycling might just seem far too dull or too removed for Primary-aged children and ultimately is something of which they don’t have real ‘hands-on’ experience. The plastic found in glitter is.
Over the next couple of months in the lead up to Christmas, My Recycled Classroom will be inviting schools, nurseries, educational settings and their practitioners to take a stand to ‘Say NO to Glitter’. By ditching plastic glitter this Christmas, we symbolically stand up against polluting our planet as well as actively teaching young learners about the issues.
We will not be outlawing sparkle but will be experimenting with other ways of creating ‘bling’. This is a chance for us as educators to make a difference in a small but important way. And to pass on knowledge about the consequences of the fun stuff we often don’t give a second thought to.
Please let us know if you’d like to join our campaign or would like to share your ideas for alternatives to glitter. We’d love to share photos of some of your learners’ Christmas creations on social media and champion the efforts of your school or organisation. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow our campaign on Twitter using the hashtag #glitterzappers.
We can all be #glitterzappers in the battle against plastic this Christmas!