Action 346: Avoid Christmas glitter and tinsel

Tinsel on the treeDate: 12 December
Action: 346
Cost of taking action: NIL


By our guest author Anna Dawson in the UK

What would Christmas be without the traditional plastic tinsel?

Answer: a lot more environmentally friendly….

What’s the issue with tinsel and glitter?

I think it’s pretty clear what the main issue is – plastic!

Plastic is not biodegradable and the tinsel used at Christmas is not recyclable and so often binned, sending the tinsel to landfill to remain for long to come, reinforcing our long lasting negative impact on the planet.

The materials used to manufacture tinsel and glitter are microplastics which are a globally significant environmental pollutant. Due to their small size they can find their way into our oceans and soils very easily.

Microplastics then make their way into the food chains – including our own.

They damage the health of wildlife as microplastics contain high concentrations of toxins that can be fatal, or can block their gastrointestinal tracts.

This is a serious problem with glitter as particles are so small that they cannot be efficiently collected and spread easily – proof of this is when you find a small piece of glitter on your desk or face. How on earth did it get there?!

By avoiding plastic tinsel and glitter we can help reduce the immense amount of plastic waste that accumulates annually at Christmas.

What can I use instead?

Pom pom garland

Using pom pom garlands means that they can also double up as decorations, and can be multicoloured and brighten your tree up. They are fully reusable and if you are feeling creative, you could even make your own!


This is a great substitute for tinsel as you can buy ribbon in different lengths and colours, and is easy to wrap around the Christmas tree. What’s best is that when Christmas is over you can use the ribbon for other purposes throughout the year – multi-purpose ribbon! You can also make matching ribbon bows to dot around your tree.

Natural items

Give your tree a bit of a rustic woodland feel by dotting your tree with twigs, pine cones, pine branches, cinnamon sticks, dried oranges etc. the list goes on! With these additions, you won’t even have space for plastic tinsel, and with the character such decorations add, you won’t be missing it at all.

Old tinsel

If you have tinsel left over from previous years, please re-use it and don’t ever bin it. Keep it covered well for the rest of the year so it doesn’t get dusty and dull, and it will last many years. Reuse of old tinsel means that it doesn’t go to landfill, and reduces demand for new plastic tinsel.

Other options

See some great ideas for removing plastic tinsel at…./alternatives-to-tinsel/

Take action

This Christmas, try to skip the glitter and tinsel.

Being sustainable is a lifestyle that we should try to adopt as much as possible, and making little adjustments here and there make all the difference!

This article was contributed by “Outdoorsy Anna” Anna Dawson
Twitter: @OutdoorsyAnnaa
Insta: @outdoorsy.annaa