We all know plastic straws are bad, but what about microplastics?
Plastic waste that washes up on shorelines has an undeniably detrimental impact on wildlife and the environment. But did you know that there’s another kind of plastic that isn’t visible to the human eye that is dramatically changing the health of marine life? It’s called microplastic.
Take a look at the shirt you’re wearing. What material is it made of? Most likely polyester or nylon is listed on the label. That’s because most of the clothing purchased today is produced from these two plastics. Polyester alone accounts for about 50 percent of the total fiber market.
When these plastic materials are washed, the fibers are broken down into small microplastics, and those seep into the water supply, eventually ending up in the ocean. To put this into perspective, up to 700,000 microfibers can be released in just a single load of laundry, roughly equivalent to the surface area of a pack of gum.
Small marine creatures ingest these microplastics and it’s hurting their health. Once inside their bodies, microplastics block their digestive tracts and can diminish their urge to eat. Research has proven that oysters are also affected by microplastics because they are producing fewer eggs. I don’t know about you, but I prefer my oysters plastic-free.
Since these particles are so small and undetectable until recently we’ve been unaware of the damage we’ve created. Now that we have the science to back it up, it’s imperative that we make a change. And the best way to do that is to start at the root cause—us.
The first step is to avoid purchasing new clothing made out of synthetic materials. Instead, look for natural fabrics such as organic cotton, bamboo, Tencel, linen, and hemp. Lucky for you, I know of a place that sells such materials and they’re also stylish and comfortable! It’s this unreal shop called Pildora. Jokes aside, our new marketplace (launching soon!) will be epic and will feature emerging designers from all over the world who are committed to making a difference.
Another way to help is by investing in a newer washing machine model. Older machines can be too rough, damaging fabrics and causing the release of microplastics. By making this investment, your clothing will last longer, you’ll save money on the water bill, and the environment will thank you. That’s a win-win-win! Also, forget the clothes dryer. Drying clothes outside is a money-saving option that will keep your clothes in tip-top shape. If you don’t have the ability to dry clothes outside, a heated drying rack can do the job quickly and just as well, and will not harm your clothing like a clothes dryer can!
Don’t forget to consider what you’re using to wash your clothes. Laundry detergents have toxic chemicals that can be just as damaging as microplastics. Natural cleaning products are easy to use and essential to washing sustainably. Here at Pildora, we use Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 Pure Castile Soap. It smells good, lasts longer, and is easy to pick up at your local Trader Joe’s!
By making small changes such as selecting the right fabric for our clothing, purchasing a better quality washing machine, and using more eco-friendly products, we can reduce microplastics and improve the health of marine wildlife. We’re saving the turtles by not using plastic straws. Let’s save the fishies too. No microplastics, please!