Make Eco-Friendly Confetti Out of Plants

Because plastic-based glitter and confetti take 1,000 years to break down.

©. Melissa Breyer

First, we came for the plastic straws, then it was the glitter and balloons. The eco-police are no fun at all, seriously! But future generations and all the species currently suffering from plastic pollution may beg to differ.

Confetti and glitter may have started out innocently enough. But fast forward to now, with a planet heaving heavy sighs under the burden of its most destructive species (that would be us), and even confetti and glitter start to look sinister.

Most confetti and glitter are made of plastic (polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET), respectively) that have been metalized. So while we are celebrating our newly betrothed and newly graduated by festooning them with handfuls of fun, we are really just throwing microplastics everywhere. According to Dr. Victoria Miller, a materials science and engineering professor at North Carolina State University, as reported in The New York Times, the "plastic film from which most glitter is made takes about 1,000 years to completely biodegrade on Earth." That is decidedly not fun.

I have made confetti from recycled tissue paper for projects when my kids were younger, but I always wondered if it could be made with something even better; and specifically I wondered if it could be made from straight-up plants. So when my attention was directed to a Facebook post from Sea Turtle Conservancy, my interest was sparked anew. They wrote:

With graduation right around the corner, we ask you to keep the environment in mind and use eco-friendly options in your celebratory grad photos instead of plastic-based glitter and confetti. Some eco-friendly alternatives include flower petals, leaves, seeds, etc. If you do use glitter, please make sure it's biodegradable. You get the same aesthetic without harming the environment!

So I went to the garden and collected some fallen soldiers – a fading tulip leaf and petal and an old peony leaf and petal – and dug out my hole punch ... and voila.

eco-friendly confetti

Melissa Breyer

I realize that for a voluminous effect – for the veritable shower of confetti that says HURRAY – one would need to do a lot of punching. So I bulked it up with some dried flower petals and I also made some chad with edible wafer paper (which is made of rice or potato flour and used in dessert decorating).

eco-friendly confetti

Melissa Breyer

See? We want to have fun! We just don't want to be wrecking the planet in the meantime. Now, about those balloons...