Nurseries ban glitter to protect the environment

By: Clare Fischer
Date posted: 17 November 2017

The boss of a chain of children’s nurseries has banned glitter after realising it’s a microplastic which can harm the environment.

© Marya Massimi

“While glitter is only a small part of the microplastic load getting into watercourses and the sea, steps like these will all add up to something greater.”

Dr Sue Kinsey,
MCS Senior Pollution Policy Officer

Glitter, loved by youngsters for making Christmas cards and baubles, has been banished at Tops Day Nurseries - a chain of 19 nurseries across the South of England.

Dr Sue Kinsey, MCS Senior Pollution Policy Officer, praised the “proactive approach”.

“The majority of microplastics that get into the sea come from personal care products, household cleaners, tyre wear and other sources,” she said.

“While glitter is only a small part of the microplastic load getting into watercourses and the sea, steps like these will all add up to something greater.”

Tops Day Nurseries Managing director, Cheryl Hadland, said she thinks a lot of her parents really want this to happen: “We did a survey a few months ago and 86% of our parents want us to be eco-sustainable.”

She said many parents who use her nurseries are millennials who are likely to want a sustainable education for their child.

“You can see when the children are taking their bits of craft home and there’s glitter on the cardboard, it blows off and into the air and on to the road, and it’s only a tiny little bit, but we’ve got 3,000 children and they’re all doing Christmas craft at the moment, so we’ve got glitter everywhere.

“There are 22,000 nurseries in the country, so if we’re all getting through kilos and kilos of glitter, we’re doing terrible damage, and these children, the world is for them.

“So here we are wrecking the place for them, and I didn’t even know. I’ve been running the nurseries for 27 years and I had no idea that we were doing all that damage. You can’t really recycle it because it’s so small, you can’t separate it from anything.”

Dr Sue Kinsey said: “This is a very proactive approach, amongst lots of things that the nursery is doing to help the environment, like using cloth aprons and not releasing balloons outdoors, and it is definitely possible to create a Christmas card to take home without using glitter!”

Ms Hadland, from Bournemouth, added: “I love glitter, it’s lovely, shiny, twinkly stuff, so it is kind of sad, but when we’re wrecking the environment we really can’t be doing it. So we’re just going to have to start getting our heads round using stuff that’s more sustainable.”

She said the decision has only just been made so parents may not be aware of it, but she insisted they are likely to be supportive.

Sue Learner, editor of, said: “We can only hope that by Cheryl Hadland raising awareness of the damage glitter can cause, other nursery owners and managers may be prompted to think about what decorative materials are being given to children and the potential impact it has on the environment.”

Actions you can take

  1. Find out more about nurdles
  2. Join the Plastic Challenge
  3. Learn about Deposit Return Systems
  4. Read our microbead ban position statement
  5. NGO microbead briefing paper
  6. Download the Great British Beach Clean Report 2019
  7. Join a beach clean
  8. Help stop the plastic tide

Did you know?…

Over time, one plastic bottle bobbing along in the ocean can break down in to hundreds of tiny plastic pieces

Plastic has been found in the stomachs of almost all marine species including fish, birds, whales, dolphins, seals and turtles

It’s estimated that one rubbish truck load of plastic litter enters the ocean every minute