Here’s your weekly update in our series “Life Beyond Plastics” reporting on the harmful environmental effects of plastics: How Yoga Pants Are Destroying the Ocean!
“With New Age names like Awake, Enlight, Balance and Align and a $100 price tag, you’d think those yoga pants would be made of recycled, organic hemp in a fair-trade factory under a rainbow. But, alas, they’re made of 100% petroleum-based polyester, aka plastic.”
This is the snappy opening of an article in returntonow.net on how microfibers from synthetic fabrics are making their way into the ocean via our washing machines. Microfibers are plastic fibers, shed from synthetic materials that are too small to be filtered out as they pass thru our water treatment plants and consequently migrate via waterways into the ocean.
Micro-fiber Pollution in the Gulf of Mexico
Researchers from the University of Florida recently found that most micro-plastic pollution in the Gulf of Mexico originated as micro-fibers. They had been expecting mostly micro-beads, those tiny plastic balls found in face scrubs and body washes, that are now banned because they were harmful to fish and marine life. Instead the research revealed that 82% of the micro-plastic pollution in the Gulf came from familiar products made of nylon or polyester like yoga pants, synthetic “fleece” jackets and sweat-wicking athletic wear.
Why is this important to us?
Micro-fibers and micro-beads are ingested by fish and shellfish like oysters that end up on our dinner-plate. (photo – Richard Nowitz, Nat Geo)
“It would be really great if the washing machine companies would get on board and come up with a filter to trap these microfibers,” Caitlin Wessel, the regional coordinator for NOAA’s Marine Debris Program recently said “I think there’s a big push right now — nobody really disagrees that marine debris is an issue that needs to be addressed.”
Clothing Manufacturers Need to Step Up, plus here are 2 micro-fiber catchers
Clothing Manufacturers also have an important roll to play in attacking this problem. Environmentally aware, Patagonia which makes clothing from recycled polyester, stated that they support research into micro-fiber pollution and now offers a “GuppyFriend” washing bag to catch micro-fibers before they go down the drain.
Another yoga-clothing company, Prana is now offering alternative yoga pants made from natural fibers like hemp and organic cotton. While Amazon is offering several options made from cotton or 100% bamboo.
See our Blue Ocean post on the Rozalia Project and their micro-fiber catcher: Stopping Ocean Pollution, One Laundry Load at a Time
“Is Your Yoga Fashion Destroying the Planet?”
See the helpful tips for improving your environmental fashion footprint offered by Elissa Jordan in her blog: “Is Your Yoga Fashion Destroying the Planet?”
“Decide on your priorities,” she writes. “A fantastically tailored, brightly colored outfit to wear when you come to practice on your mat or a habitable world for your grandchildren, great-grandchildren.”
By Robert Frerck, Blue Ocean Network
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