Subscribe to our Newsletter to keep up to date with everything happening at Riverside Training (Spalding) Ltd


Early Years settings across the UK will, undoubtedly, be using bucket loads of glitter this festive season.

It's a staple of arts and crafts in nurseries - particularly at Christmas - and something I often include in my creative ideas blogs.

So I was somewhat surprised to discover that a group of nurseries in southern England will no longer be ordering any more of the sparkly stuff so loved by little ones.

However, delving deeper, I discovered why...and it makes sense.

Glitter is a microplastic, just like microbeads which have already been banned in some countries and will be in the UK from next year due to the harm they cause marine life and human health.

Tops Day Nurseries - a chain of 19 settings which has pledged to become more environmentally friendly - explains the decision to ban glitter on its website:

''So far we have learnt a lot about the ecological dangers we produce through our day-to-day actions and have recently discovered an unexpected item that has already had a detrimental effect on the environment…glitter.

"These tiny, shimmering specs of microplastic are virtually impossible to remove from the environment once there.

"When we’ve finished using plastic glitter for play, in decorating a card, sprinkling it into play dough or glue or painting with it, it goes into a bin or the sink.

"It can’t be recycled because it isn’t practical to do so, it’s too small to separate out.

"Glitter enters the environment by landfill, through the air being blown around, it sticks to people’s hands and goes down the sink into the water system, it sticks to peoples clothes or mops, which go through the washing machine, and out into the water system."

The nurseries' glitter ban is backed by environmental scientists who say it is a dangerous pollutant which poses a danger to wildlife.

The problem has become so severe that plastics are found in a third of all fish caught in Great Britain, according to a study by Richard Thompson, Professor of Marine Biology at Plymouth University.

Eco-conscious Tops Day Nurseries has already stopped using plastic aprons - swapping them for fabric ones - and removed single-use items such as straws, balloons, plastic cups, cutlery and plates.

Children are also encouraged to recycle and care for the environment.

The company has a Zero to Landfill goal, is starting to install solar panels at its nurseries, trialling new electric vehicles, installing time and light sensors, timers on water coolers and heaters, fuel saving magnets on gas and water mains and introducing bamboo toothbrushes and recycled paint.

While its unlikely the group's decision to ban glitter will have any tangible positive impact on reducing microplastics in our oceans, it's a sound environmental statement and sets a target for other Early Years settings.

I have taken heed and, while the sparkly stuff will still feature in my future craft ideas, I will be recommending using environmentally-friendly biodegradable glitter.