I made some Bling today.
In case you are wondering why I’m planning to wear heavy gold dollar signs encrusted with diamonds round my neck, that’s not the sort of Bling I mean.
In the face and body painting world Bling refers to clusters of gems attached to the skin with skin glue, to enhance a painted design or motif. Here are a few examples to whet your appetite:
Gorgeous aren’t they? You can see why they are so popular both with the face painting professional and the clients. They glitter and gleam and add the extra ‘something’ to any design. They are generally hand-assembled and so each one is unique and can be custmised to the theme of the event. Some Bling are so large and complex that you almost don’t need to add any paint, they look so beautiful on their own! And Bling is not just for girls. Several bling makers also have special editions which even make boys’ eyes sparkle with glee. It’s a big and growing business.
But here’s the catch. 99% of them (that’s my estimation from what I have seen, not hard scientific fact) are made out of plastic. Several tonnes of plastic bling must be being made worldwide each year.
'Why is that such a problem?' I hear you ask. I'll explain.
The Bling cluster has spent a wonderful day on someone’s skin. It looks stunning and gained many admirers. At bedtime it gets washed off with soap and water to loosen the glue. One or two of the gems fall off and disappear down the plughole. The remaining cluster either gets put in to the bin straight away for landfill or perhaps it lies on the bedroom floor with yesterday’s socks for a while before unceremoniously getting thrown away a couple of weeks later. Only an estimated 7% of plastics put in to the recycling bin are recycled (or down-cycled), so its’ chances are not good at having another revival, even if it makes it to the recycling bin. Rains wash the Bling into the water-system, finding its way into a stream, then a river and finally the sea. The churning sea breaks up the gems further into even smaller pieces.
Did you know that plastic sucks up organic pollutants like a sponge? (I mean organic vs inorganic molecules, not the sort of organic you find in the supermarket). In fact, plastic is up to 1 million times better at soaking them up than the surrounding sea water. So much so that some ocean scientists call these small plastic pieces Poison Pills.
The Pills are gobbled up by hungry fish and birds. Some fish surveys have shown that up to one third of fish have these small plastic pieces in their stomachs. With their stomachs full of plastic they are not able to feed properly. They either die an early death or are gobbled up by predators. The toxins from the Poison Pills have now entered the food chain.
Obviously, there is a huge plastic crisis world-over (just think about your average supermarket isle and the huge floating islands of plastic bottles floating in the oceans I'm sure you've seen on TV) and you may be thinking that the Bling problem is a ‘drop in the ocean’ compared to all that. I would argue that we should be leading the way and not waiting for our children to clean up our mess. Surely it is not worth damaging the planet for the sake of personal beauty.
But here’s the good news! I made some bling today.
And it is 99% biodegradable!
What do you think? It was surprisingly simple to source the materials. It may not be quite as fancy as some of the plastic Bling, but this is just the beginning. The more creative minds take this on as an idea, the more the idea will evolve. If more people become committed to saving the seas and make the change to natural materials we can make a difference to tens of thousands of creatures (including us). AND we can still be the talk of the party!
I'll make another blog post about the materials I used but if you would like to know more about my biodegradeable Bling before that (I think I’m going to call it BioBling!), drop me a line!
See you next time and have a wonderful day!