Gary Barlow’s Plastic Confetti Should Make Us Rethink How We Celebrate Special Occasions

Gary Barlow has apologised for firing confetti cannons during his recent concert at eco-friendly venue The Eden Project after environmental campaigners accused him of littering. 

A spokesperson from the group Cornwall Against Single Use Plastic said they were “appalled” to witness the use of the effect, writing on Twitter: “What on earth was a plastic confetti canon doing there? In a place such as the Eden who are working so hard at getting rid of SU [single use] plastics.”

The star confirmed he would no longer be using the stunt in upcoming performances, following the complaints. “The reality is, beyond the effect it just turns into litter,” he conceded. 

We could all learn a thing or two from the Take That singer’s change of heart, here’s how to make sure your celebrations aren’t harming the environment. 

Throwing confetti at newlyweds may be a time-honoured tradition, but if you want to avoid your wedding having a negative impact on the environment for years to come, you need to be careful what products your guests shower you with.  

Using synthetic confetti will pollute your gorgeous venue, but thankfully, there are plenty of eco-friendly alternatives. Etsy has a ton of options for biodegradable confetti with many created from recycled, natural items, such as dried flowers. You can also buy reusable party poppers, meaning the plastic container can be refilled again and again, for weddings, birthdays and New Year’s Eve. We’re also loving the trend of blowing bubbles at weddings – just be sure to buy a wand that can be recycled. 

Whenever you present a gift in wrapping paper, you could also be contributing towards waste destined for landfill.

According to recycling charity WRAP, shiny metallic wrapping paper is made from metallised plastic film and this type of material is not currently recycled. However, most other wrapping paper can be added to standard paper recycling, which is collected by all UK councils. If you’re unsure which sort you’ve bought, try the “scrunch test”. 

“The scrunch test is a simple way to determine whether wrapping paper is made from metallised plastic film. Simply scrunch the item in your hand – if it remains ‘scrunched’ it can be recycled; if it springs back it is probably metallised plastic film and not recyclable,” the site explains. 

Balloons can also be bad new for the environment. Foil balloons are not biodegradable and latex balloons, while slightly better, can still take between six months and four years to break down

If you do decide to buy a balloon, resit the urge to watch it fly off into the sky. “We are not against balloons, but purely their release,” Emma Cunningham, Senior Pollution Campaigns Officer at the Marine Conservation Society, previously told HuffPost UK. “What goes up must come down. This is the issue as they contribute to litter on beaches [and] can threaten wildlife through entanglement or ingestion.”

Finally, it won’t surprise anyone to learn when you fill a birthday card with tiny sequins, confetti and glitter, the result ends up in the bin. It may look pretty but resist the temptation and make Gazza B proud.