Confetti’s impact on the environment

Reporter: Elizabeth Biro Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

Confetti’s sparkle can add extra fun while you are celebrating, but where does it go afterward?

All it takes is a moment to toss confetti in the air while celebrating. But, the impacts on the environment are felt much longer than that.

The Merwin Hall Boardwalk on FGCU’s campus has become a popular place for taking pictures.

“You can have some really great backgrounds. But unfortunately, one of the things that has become trendy in recent years is students have actually taken these what we call glitter pictures,” Chad Evers, an FGCU ecology and environmental studies instructor, said.

The pictures will last forever. Likewise, according to Professor Evers, the confetti around the boardwalk will too.

“If you catch the light just right you can see that the ground is actually sparkling a little bit,” Professor Evers said.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a tiny spec or if the shimmering confetti is large.

“This is a piece here, whatever this was actually, you know, broken down a little bit. But you can see that the metal parts have kind of gone, but the plastic still persists,” Professor Evers said.

This isn’t simply a surface-level problem either.

“If we pull this out of the ground and see, right, it’s probably like six inches down, it hasn’t, hasn’t really biodegrade much still looks like a fresh piece of glitter,” Professor Evers said. “Plastics take 1000s of years to actually break down. And, really what they’re just gonna break down as even into just microplastics they get into the food supply, they get into the water supply.”

That’s how the problem goes from the forest to your table.

“Even if we wanted to do some kind of a cleanup, like, it’s, it’s physically impossible to come in here, and like pick up every one of these tiny little specks of glitter,” Professor Evers said.

Professor Evers went on to explain the disconnect in people’s minds between confetti and litter.

“I think the only actual piece of litter I found was a cough drop wrapper, students understand that like, you know, stuff like this is litter and they’re not going to throw litter over the edge. And so, you know, glitter and graduation supplies like this is also litter it doesn’t, it doesn’t go away,” Professor Evers said.

Confetti wasn’t just found under the bridge. That’s because the wind blew it 20 to 30 feet away.

The next time you consider celebrating, consider using environmentally friendly biodegradable confetti.

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