Sustainability Sunday #59
HELP WE’RE EATING PLASTIC!
Do you recall my rant about microbeads? Well, here’s another. I’m sorry if I lulled you into a false sense of security with my previous happy positive posts but this week, I’m grumpy and this is just one more reason why: plastic plastic plastic everywhere.
Eight million tonnes of waste plastic ends up in the sea each year (The Guardian). Fish are eating this plastic, and then, guess what? We do too! The plastic we’re consuming isn’t actually the thousands of bottles we see littering coastlines and waterways, it’s far smaller than that. Microplastics which measure between 10 nanometres and 5 millimetres are often found below the surface, almost invisible to the naked eye are what we’re consuming.
Where does this tiny plastic come from? Well, three main sources: firstly, the little bobbles of plastic that are used to package out shipping containers are our longest standing criminal, they drop into the ocean whilst shipping containers are making their way across the ocean.
Next, there’s the dreaded microbeads flowing down sinks and drains into water systems and cycling back into the ocean and our drinking water. I won’t go on another rant but if you missed the first one then here is a link to it.
Thirdly, is my latest environmental horror: we’re actually eating our clothes. The plastic micro-fibres that our clothing are made from are shed into the atmosphere by general wear and tear, and the continual washing of garments adds yet more into our waste systems. One of the worst things we can do is tumble-dry these clothes as aside from the energy consumption often tumble driers have vents into the open air. Studies over the last year have begun to pinpoint a huge amount of the plastic microfibres found along the seashore and in deceased marine life has come from fabric. A research project published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology found that on average, synthetic fleece jackets release 1.7 grams of microfibers each wash. It turns out that acrylic is the worst offender releasing five times more microfibres than a poly-cotton blend, releasing nearly ¾ of a million particles per wash.
For me, this is confirmation that just making sure we wear our clothing for longer, and not continually buying new clothes isn’t enough. We have absolutely got to change the way our clothes are made. We must be looking to divert demand toward natural materials, to cotton, bamboo and other plant-based fabrics as alternatives to plastic fibres particularly as not only are the environmental impacts devastating but we don’t yet know how bad consuming these plastic fibres might be for our health.
If you’re looking to find some more sustainable apparel companies then I can recommend the below brands who’s sole goal is to provide sustainable apparel:
Reformation: probably the best-known sustainable fashion brand out there, Reformation source sustainable fabrics and incorporate ethical and sustainable processes throughout the supply chain to create trendy fashion collections with minimal impact on people and the environment. Reformation’s style has you covered for any occasion from casual through to workwear.
Knowledge Cotton Apparel: originating in Denmark, KCA is an organic menswear brand that uses ethical production processes and only uses organic cotton or recycled PET plastic polyester. The brand has a simple, understated casual vibe with some products definitely being unisex if you’re the kind of girl keen on having soft and baggy loungewear.
Thought Clothing: made with organic cotton, hemp and bamboo Thought have some really great eco-friendly alternatives, particularly their latest autumn/winter clothing. With most of their collections made from natural fabrics this is a healthier option for the environment and for you.