More on Microplastics

More on Microplastics

Hi all! I hope your week is off to a good start. Let's chat microplastics on this fine Monday morning. I touched on microplastics a few weeks ago and thought it would be fun and important to have a more in depth discussion on them, as we all wear clothes and most of them contain some form of plastic synthetic fiber. Sadly, synthetic textiles are the single largest contributors to microplastic pollution [1]. What are microplastics, you ask? Microplastics are defined simply as tiny pieces of plastic that are less than 5mm in size. They come from the degradation of larger pieces of plastic, synthetic textiles, beauty and health products, and other sources [1].

Although plastic took off back in the 1950s, there is an unfortunately small amount of research done in regards to its effect on human and animal life. Some things we do know are that we creatures are ingesting them through our food and water—they have even been found in the dust in our homes [2]. Some of the concern regarding ingestion of these particles is that it directly exposes the body to the chemicals found in plastic that can lead to reproductive harm, obesity, and organ problems, among other issues [2]. Plastic can let off chemicals like bisphenol A, phthalates, and styrene, which can have detrimental effects on our bodies and health [2]. For wildlife the consume these tiny bits, there is also concern for injury as well as change in behavior and reproductive cycles, which can ultimately effect population [1].

Despite the lack of research, the information that is available is enough to make me want to get rid of all plastic for good. I know, I know, it's not gonna happen. Nonetheless, there are many ways to reduce microplastics in our environment. Ultimately, the best way to do this will be to support a significant decrease in the overall production of plastic, meaning less single AND multi-use plastic, less synthetic textile production, and more research into bio-friendly packaging for all products. These are things that we as consumers can demand through our purchasing power and our voting voices. Support companies and policies that condemn single use plastics and that work hard to use materials that are environmentally friendly. In the meantime, in order to decrease your own ingestion and output of microplastics, you can:

  • Opt for glass containers for drinking and food storage
  • Choose garments without plastic synthetic fibers whenever possible
  • Dust and vacuum your home regularly
  • Eat fresh foods
  • Reduce, reuse, recycle!

When synthetic fibers were created, they were found to be cheap and multifunctional, so it’s easy to see why they are still the most widely used fibers in the textile industry. However, now that we know a bit more about their impact on our planet, it’s clear that the abundant use of these synthetics cannot continue. There is a lot of experimentation and research going into plant-based synthetic fibers that have the same qualities but offer less detriment, which brings a lot of hope to the industry. I think it’s also worth considering and exploring that original natural fibers such as hemp and linen may be more multifunctional and have a lot more to offer than we currently think, but they've been pushed to the wayside since plastic synthetics came along. Just something to think about for the future of textiles. All in all, because of the likely harm synthetic fibers are inflicting on human and environmental health, it’s important to me that Nordbo garments always be made with natural, organic-where-possible fibers. The first collection will include organic cotton, hemp-lyocell, and RWS wool. We’ll discuss these fibers next week as I find them quite exciting :) Thanks for reading, friends!

Grateful for you,
Taylor

References
[1] Boucher, J. and Friot, D. (2017). Primary Microplastics in the Oceans: A Global Evaluation of Sources. IUCN. Available at: https://portals.iucn.org/library/sites/library/files/documents/2017-002-En.pdf 

[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/youre-literally-eating-microplastics-how-you-can-cut-down-exposure-to-them/2019/10/04/22ebdfb6-e17a-11e9-8dc8-498eabc129a0_story.html

Photo by Harry Cooke from Pexels

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