Microfiber Pollution – “When fashion turns to a life-threatening contamination”
I guess it doesn’t deserve to be trendy anymore. What do I mean by this? You’ll just have to read further.
The demand for synthetic clothes nowadays is catapulting on crazy levels. I have nothing against expressing yourselves through fashion, but you have to hear me out on this one – your fashion is causing serious marine pollution!
You might be thinking, “How on Earth are my clothes polluting the oceans?” Well, let me take the floor.
Polyester is a petroleum-based product that is affordable and widely-used to manufacture synthetic clothing. Today, it’s literally in every corner of the fashion industry – yoga pants, dress shirts, fleeces, and even undergarments. So technically, you are wearing plastic! I know our clothes are commonly made to be durable for years, but simply washing it clean is contributing a lot on plastic pollution.
Plastic pollution has a microscopic subcategory called “Microplastic Pollution”. Microplastics are tiny plastics smaller than a grain of rice. They are coming from the debris of larger plastics or from the microbeads of your exfoliating face wash. In 2011, another source of microplastics was identified, and they called it “microfibers”. Every time you do your laundry, extremely tiny pieces of plastics, called microfibers, are shred off from your clothes. An estimated amount of 250,000 microfibers will be shed from only a single fleece jacket. These microfibers are washed down the drain and can travel pass through our sewage filtration system, into the waterways, and eventually end up in the ocean. With an estimated amount of 1.4 million trillion microfibers in the ocean, these will definitely end up being eaten by aquatic animals like fish. Twenty-five percent of fishes in the ocean are positive for ingesting microfibers. So, next time you cook fish for dinner, you might actually be eating a fish full of plastics.
Researchers are still finding out how badly these microfibers can affect our health when ingested. Nevertheless, it’s still plastic, and plastics are generally toxic. The worst news is, we can also drink and breathe microfibers, yikes! Tap waters in many countries and even commercial drinks have been detected to contain microfibers. Paris researchers also found out that microfibers are present in the air and is being inhaled by everyone. Conventional forms of plastics are everywhere, but microfibers are taking it at to a whole new level.
Now it all boils down to this question – “What can we do to fight microfiber pollution?” I’ll give you 10 pointers for that.
Wash and Wear Moderately
The simplest prevention for this is washing and wearing our clothes moderately. I’m not asking you to turn dirty and forget your hygiene, what I mean is only use the clothes that you actually need and wash them less. Forget the layers, basic clothing can still be fun and fashionable when worn with personality.
Shift to Natural Fabrics
You can always choose not to buy synthetic clothing. You can still be the coolest in town by wearing natural fabrics like hemp, cotton, or wool. So ditch anything polyester in that closet and be trendy by not wearing plastic.
Screens for Washing Machines
Try to have filtering screens or system for your washing machines, or buy new ones that already have. Even though some microfibers can still pass through these filters, it’s already a big thing to trap almost 90% of that and prevent it from flowing out to the oceans.
The “Guppyfriend” Wash Bag
The Guppyfriend wash bag is a filtering bag for your laundry clothes that can stop 99% of microfibers from being released in open waters. You simply put your synthetic clothes in it, throw it inside your washing machine, and dispose of the trapped microfibers properly. Let the world know about Guppyfriend because we all need one.
The “Cora Balls”
If you haven’t heard about it yet, Cora Balls are laundry balls that can also trap microfibers. If you can’t afford washing machines with filters, you can simply throw one of these to your laundry and let it do its thing. Inspired by the filtering abilities of corals, Cora Balls can be effective over time in reducing microfibers in the oceans.
Wastewater Treatment Upgrade
Wastewater treatment plants, in general, are actually doing great for filtering 95-99% of the microfibers. But, we’re still talking about millions for the remaining 1% of microfibers being flushed into the oceans. Therefore, an upgrade for these plants’ filtering systems is still a must.
Back to the Clothing Companies
There’s always scientific and innovative ways to manufacture clothes with fewer microfibers. Clothing companies should directly address the issue by developing new clothing items that are plastic-free. Patagonia is the first clothing line that took the threat of microfiber pollution seriously. They funded a research study dedicated to understanding microfibers on the hope to develop the cleanest clothing line.
The Rise of the Bio-Polyester
This is it! Another hope for biodegradable plastics! Bio-polyester is a fabric produced by methane-consuming bacteria. Clothes made from bio-polyester will be degraded back into nature for a shorter period of time. At least we may not be wearing plastics anymore in the future.
The Government Should Man Up
The government should pull itself together and man up to release new laws and bills to help prevent microfiber pollution. This may include banning washing machines without filters, ordering the wastewater treatment plants to upgrade, forcing the clothing companies to use less synthetic fabrics, or funding researchers to further develop bio-polyesters.
Answer the Call
Not your phone, silly. What I mean is we have to seriously answer the call to stop plastic pollution. Don’t limit yourself to this list, you are always way better than that. Participate in various movements to fight plastic pollution and be active in clean-up drives. Start by signing the petition to iBanPlastic.com and start living a plastic-free lifestyle!
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iBan Plastic Team