Sydney Mardi Gras organisers have committed to phasing out glitter from the annual parade in a bid to protect the environment.
Mardi Gras CEO Terese Casu told the Sydney Morning Herald the plan was to make the parade completely carbon neutral within five years.
“We used to bring in about three tonnes of glitter from China,” she said.
“That goes in the gutter, it ends up in our oceans, our fish eat it, you find it in crab shells and oysters.
“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 in the ocean, where their impact on wildlife is yet to be fully understood, according to Planet Ark.
Like all plastics, glitter is made from fossil fuels and has a substantial carbon footprint.
In the festival’s workshop in Sydney, organisers are helping teams behind this year’s parade floats to become glitter-free, by encouraging the use of LED lights and lanterns.
Environmentally-friendly, biodegradable forms of glitter are also available, including a plastic-free alternative produced from the cellulose of eucalyptus trees and another made from synthetic mica.
Mardi Gras organisers are also banning balloons and single-use plastic water bottles from the festival’s major events.
“I’m hoping now we’ll set the mark high and take a leadership role in [going carbon neutral] and promote it at other festivals,” Casu said.
“Because it does make such a difference and the amount of waste we use at festivals, it’s got to stop.”