It’s that time of the semester, when students preparing to walk the stage are hoping to get that perfect graduation photo to celebrate their accomplishments.

Thanks to recent trends on social media and other websites, confetti and glitter have become popular additions to those graduation photos.

While the photos can look amazing and add a real sense of pizazz to a graduate’s achievements, they can also have long term affects that they may not be aware of.

Unfortunately, these photos that may last a lifetime can cause severe damage to our environment.

Wes Powell is the Assistant Director of Landscape and Grounds for the APSU campus. He and his crews have been dealing with the messes left behind from these photos for the past several years.

“Most people try to clean it up afterwards, but there are also those that don’t even bother attempting to do so,” Powell said.

The school tries spreading the word through emails and other forms of communication, but the message is not always received by the students. It isn’t just the springtime that this problem arises either.

“We have to deal with this each semester,” Powell said.

That is because there are graduation ceremonies after the fall, spring and even summer classes.

He has raised concerns about the future if this trend continues.

“We haven’t seen long term effects as of yet.” Powell said, “It is basically litter at this point, but it could progress into an environmental hazard.

“The confetti is plastic, and it is not something that breaks down easily. Even if it gets swept or vacuumed up, it can get into the grass, where it’s nearly impossible to get out and it works its way into the soil.”

The confetti and glitter can be appealing to birds and other small creatures but are toxic to their systems. The micro plastics of the glitter are so tiny that they can slip through the filters in drainage systems and end up polluting rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water.

For those who are environmentally conscious but would still like to have a grad picture with that WOW factor there are alternatives to add sparkle to those photos.

People can hire a professional photographer that can enhance the pictures with the desired effects in the postproduction process.

Students can also use more ecologically friendly options for the pictures such as biodegradable glitter and confetti, rose petals, naturally dyed rice, bird seed, hole-punches from fallen leaves and whatever else their  imaginations can produce.

A great graduation picture is an awesome memory. Just be sure it doesn’t leave an unfortunate lasting mark on the planet.