It’s that time of year again, when LSU seniors smile for the camera and walk across the stage. But when celebrations begin, thoughts of the environment fade.
New trends of extravagant graduation pictures featuring glitter and confetti has LSU researcher Matthew Kupchik concerned about the campus’s environment.
“Plastic like this, like these glitter pieces that you commonly see in celebrations are polyester, just like the clothing you use, but it is a really durable polymer,” Kupchik said. “It’s relatively resistant to tearing, it’s relatively resistant to breakdown from light, from heat, from temperature which also means it’s pretty bad for the environment because it can stick around for a really really long time.”
LSU Director of Environmental Health and Safety, Matthew Hook, believes this confetti has not be a problem in the past.
“That hasn’t been a complaint in the past or something we dealt with before, so I haven’t heard of that. Certainty after big events there are clean ups that happen, but I haven’t had any complaints or concerns specifically about confetti or glitter,” Hook said.
But it only takes a glance to spot the sparkly pieces all around the popular campus spots like the PMAC, Mike’s Habitat and Patrick F. Taylor Hall. The problem comes in disposing all these small pieces properly.
“It’s difficult to clean up. The only way to clean it up is to maybe mow it up and try to suck it up in bags or rake it up with leaves and pine straw, but then all that material can’t be recycled or composted it has to go out to debris so it’s kind of a compound issue,” Hook said.
However, this confetti isn’t just impacting our campus.
“We got all that rain a couple weeks ago, all that water then washes this into our local streams, rivers and bayous, where it then it becomes bio-available to animals,” Kupchik said.“If you do chose to use this type of PETE confetti, just make sure you’re cleaning up afterwards. This is going to be there a lot longer than the graduation party and it’s going to stay for the next 2,5,10 thousand years.”
For more information on how to properly recycle visit www.epa.gov/recycle.