How Does Current Trashing
Harm The Environment?

Many of the trashing products contain plastic or have plastic packaging, which does not biodegrade. This plastic clogs up landfill, or can escape in to the environment endangering wildlife which can get caught in it or consume it. The plastics remain in the environment for a long time as microplastics, which are even easier for wildlife to consume and the microplastics can get toxins attached to them affecting the health of the animal


For general information on the damaging effect of plastics here are somereading suggestions:

Wagner, M. Lambert, S. (2018). Freshwater Microplastics: Emerging Environmental Contaminant? Cham Springer 

Vignieri, S. (2016). Microplastic’s triple threat.

Green Peace - Plastic rivers

Green Peace - Plastic ocean

The Guardian - The planet is on edge of a global plastic calamity

Plastic Oceans - the facts

Blue Planet - How plastic is slowly killing our sea creatures, fish and birds

Micro Plastics

UN Declares War Ocean Plastic





Confetti is often used at trashings, it can be made from a number of materials, including plastic and metal. A large bag of confetti can provide all the trashing equipment needed for a group of friends


Key Info

Glittery confetti is made out of plastic/metallic material, which can be eaten by birds, end up in landfill or get washed by the rain into rivers which endangers aquatic life. It is dangerous for wildlife as it is mistaken for food, but non-digestible, clogging up their guts and often killing them.

Tissue paper and rice paper confettis are biodegradable, although they do take time to disappear, this is less than with glitter and metal ones.



Avoid the more complex glitter and plastic based confettis and stick to biodegradable ones, remembering to recycle the bag it comes in. Rice and tissue paper work but there are also petal based confettis. Look at the material when you buy them.

Biodegradable confetti is available from amazon

confetti based website which has a specialist biodegradable section

Here you can buy petal based confettis, there is a free sample system as well!

You could get crafty and make your own confetti from newspaper!


Furthur Reading

Anger after plastic glitter fired into Cornwall harbour?

Eco-Friendly Confetti

5 Wedding Trends That Are Bad For The Environment (And What You Can Do Instead)




Glitter is not as pervasive in the tradition of trashing as say shaving foam, champagne, and others. But it has become a recently popular item, but is particularly damaging to the environment, however there are alternatives to plastic glitter.


Key Info

Most glitter is made of aluminium and a plastic called PET, which is a microplastic

Microplastics enter environments, such as oceans and rivers, and impact the creatures who live there

Dr Trisia Farrelly, an environmental anthropologist at Massey University has investigated how PET can break down to release chemicals that disrupt hormones in the bodies of animals and humans. Such chemicals have been linked with the onset of cancers and neurological diseases

Research even suggests that small plastics can be used as “lifeboats” for dangerous bacteria to survive longer in water



Use biodegradable confetti rather than complicated glitter!

Ecostardust Made from plant cellulose and 10% of profits go to charity.

Ecoglitterfun Made from a certified biodegradable cellulose film.

Zero Waste, Vegan friendly, biodegradable plant-based glitter.

Vegan, biodegradable plant based and EU certified


Furthur Reading

Losing its sparkle: the dark side of glitter

You scatter it on your hair and even wear it in face masks, but some scientists believe glitter is so toxic that it should be banned

The eco-friendly guide to glitter

Glitter Should be Banned Over Environmental Impact, Scientists Warn

Glitter: Why It’s Not So Glitzy For The Environment?




Paint and coloured powders are common in trashings, in both cannon forms and as a powder sprinkled over individuals. Paints are some of the most complex trashing products.


Key Info

Paints vary massively between manufacturers, some with eco- friendly credentials and some with none. More information can be found here

Most paints are made from inorganic materials, as a result they do not biodegrade and can exist in ecosystems for a long period of time

Paint chemicals can have impacts on animals which ingest them but prolonged exposure can also impact the health of humans

Greenwashing, where a company presents itself as eco-friendly to boost sales, is common in the paint industry but many companies are not as environmentally friendly as they present themselves



Holipowder is a good biodegradable alternative and is very effective in enabling you to dash your friends with a splash of colour

One possibility is to make your own, emulate holi powders such as these:


This is a good page with links to companies who sell paints with less chemicals and are VOC and solvent free


 Furthur Reading






Party poppers are quite a common item at trashing, the main impacts on the environment are from the plastic packaging that these products come in and then the impact of the products themselves.


Key Info


Most party poppers consist of three main components, the plastic container, the gunpowder, and the paper-based confetti. Alongside this there are usually small pieces of cardboard found in there as well. Party poppers are classified as fireworks in the UK and although they only last for a short time, high concentrations of ultra-fine particles released, contribute to air pollution. SOURCE

The paper can vary in composition, some confetti is made from recycled materials, some is not and can be coated in materials which make it non-recyclable. Usually in trashing, the paper will break down due to exposure to liquids and is non-recoverable by this point. It is best to put any recovered paper in the compost. SOURCE

The plastic aspect is the largest component of party poppers and on many occasions is non-recyclable, this is something that must be checked with each brand, if non-recyclable these simply create waste.



When purchasing party poppers there are things to look for, what the confetti is made from, whether the plastic is recyclable and what the packaging is made from.

Purchase environmentally friendly confetti and throw that rather than using party poppers (See the confetti guide).

If one is very desperate to use a party popper there are “push poppers” which involve less chemicals and use biodegradable petals. These can be found from some of these companies:


 Furthur Reading





Shaving foam is a popular choice for completely covering your friends at trashings, however there are some environmental factors to consider when purchasing your trashing supplies. Shaving foam has two main downsides; the non-recyclable pressurised can and the impact of the foam itself on the wider environment.


Key Info

Most shaving foams and gels are comprised of an outer layer of plastic or metal packaging, and then a foam made from stearic acid, triethanolamine, lanolin, glycerine, polyoxyethylene sorbintan monostearate and water.

The foam may also contain parabens, phthalates and triclosan, all of which are classed as toxic chemicals, and which may have detrimental impacts on ecosystems and wildlife around Oxford (especially if you are considering jumping into the river or a lake afterwards!)

Shaving foams and gels are often tested on animals and can contain palm oil, which isn’t always sourced sustainably so can contribute to rainforest destruction.

The main body of the can is generally non-recyclable, which results in the creation of more general waste for landfill.



If you are set on covering your friends, alcohol or a fizzy drink will probably go down as well as shaving foam!

When purchasing shaving foam, check that it meets your satisfaction in terms of ethics and long-term disposal (i.e. is the packaging recyclable?). From the ethical consumer guide this shaving foam came out on top:

If possible choose an option with fewer parabens and chemicals, such as one from an environmentally conscious retailer (e.g. the Body Shop)

Consider trashing with another material that is eco-friendly, such as holipowder or biodegradable glitter


Furthur Reading




Silly string is a common tool for a top quality trashing, you can create a large impact from a distance that looks colourful and impressive. However the chemicals in these products are uncertain and damaging to the environment.


Key Info

A necessary ingredient of a can of silly string is the propellant, these used to be Ozone depleting chemicals, but since banning other chemicals are used.

The actual composition of original silly string is complex, with companies guarding what constitutes the solvent and surfactant, but for many silly strings the main substance is a plastic.

As a result the environmental impact of silly string can be large. The string tends to break down into small pieces of plastic which can enter into ecosystems and have similar impacts to other mircoplastics.



Similar to other complex products the best alternative is to switch to something biodegradable and non-plastic such as paper or petal confetti

If used, please seek to recycle the can if possible and make sure that none of the string ends up in waterways


Furthur Reading




Fizzy drinks, such as champagne and prosecco, are the most common trashing product, creating a huge impact and providing refreshment at the same time!


Key Info

Bottles of fizz or cans of drink are some of the simplest products used at trashing, with little to no plastics and toxic chemicals within them.

The key thing to remember is to keep the bottle/can and recycle it in the appropriate bin, as it may not be recycled if placed in general litter.

Drinks also provide a great way to wash off anything you have been covered in which may enter river ecosystems.





Fancy dress such as wigs and Hawaiian flower leis, as well as balloons are increasingly common at trashings. These can vary extremely in impact!


Key Info

Fancy dress can be reused for multiple trashings, so may provide a great mechanisms to set your college apart and reduce regular purchasing of trashing items.

Individuals should try and avoid throwaway items however, especially if made from plastic such as balloons, as these have been found in the digestive tracts of much aquatic life. 

If you really want to buy balloons then get biodegradable balloons which use latex from rubber, but these will still take some time to biodegrade 

Avoid losing these kinds of items, particularly letting necklaces float down the river. If they last till the end of trashing season, reuse them next year!





Holi powder when made from rice or corn starch and food colouring is biodegradable and one of the safest trashing products in terms of its environmental impact. But make sure to check that the holi powder you buy is made from these substances and does not include other chemicals or polymers, because these would be damaging to the environment.


Biodegradable holi powder can be found on the following website: