I’m sure you’ve heard of the horrors of microbeads, and the damage they cause to the environment. They are typically used in beauty/skincare products, and governments around the world are banning them – companies are also being proactive and taking steps to eliminate them from their products.
Well, this brings us to the next not-so micro issue: microfibers.
If you haven’t heard of microfibers, here is a quick rundown: basically, when you wash any synthetic material (nylon, polyester acrylic, fleece, etc.), tiny particles, microfibers, are released. These tiny particles go down the drains, and into the rivers, lakes, and oceans. This is bad for several reasons:
1. plastic pollution causes harm to the environment;
2. fish and other marine organisms are ingesting the microfibres; and then
3. the chemicals from the microfibers enter the fish’s bloodstream and tissue, and then we eat the fish (aka we are eating plastic).
So even if you give zero shits about marine life, you should care that you are ingesting plastic. It’s problematic for fish and other marine organisms to ingest plastic, because plastic doesn’t biodegrade – the plastic sits in their stomachs, and slowly their bellies fill up with little plastic particles, and eventually they starve to death because their stomachs are full of plastic – some researchers found that almost every shellfish had ingested microplastics.
So this is clearly a huge problem, which brings us to what can we do?
- It would be wasteful to simply toss out every item of clothing you had that contains synthetic material, so the first thing you should do is pledge not to buy clothing with synthetic material in it. 1MillionWomen have put together an “A-Z” list of sustainable fibres. Check out the list, and then keep that in mind when you are shopping next.
- Wash your clothes that do contain synthetic material less – this isn’t a perfect solution, but it’s definitely a start.
- I can’t find any actual proof about this, but I think if you hand wash clothes containing synthetic material, fewer microfibers would be released (tell me if I’m wrong people!)
- Here are a few innovative products that are designed to trap microfibres:
- Guppy Friend: they’ve created a wash bag that traps 99% of the microfibers that would be released in the waterways. Once your clothes come out of the wash, you throw out the plastic debris left in the bag. Patagonia is going to start selling these at cost in their stores – oops just looked at this and it will only be in their US and Europe stores (hopefully it will come to their Canadian stores soon)
- Coraball: you throw the Coraball into your washing machine along with all your clothes (it works with any type of washing machine), and the ball collects the fibres in its stalks, you then throw the fibres in the garbage
- Filtrol 160: this product requires a plumber (or if you’re handy you might be able to do it), to install, but is a great option – it captures the plastic fibres before they enter they go down your drain
So check out some of the solutions, and let me know what you decide to do!