Nylon and polyester are common synthetic fabrics we wear, and apparently washing these synthetic fabrics releases a substantial amount of microplastic particles and pollutes our water. In honor of Earth Day today, I wanted to talk about microplastic pollution and ways to help minimize it!
So what is microplastic?
Microplastic is plastic debris leaked from large plastic items such as synthetic clothes, and microbeads from our face wash. While we haven’t confirmed any negative impact microplastic has on our body yet, studies have shown that microplastic is magnet for toxins and is harmful for fish’s reproductive and immune systems. So when we consume seafood that are contaminated with microplastic, will we experience the same health impact?
More reasons not to buy synthetic clothes.
I have clothes that are made with polyester, and they are generally more long lasting and functional. However, synthetic clothes are extremely hard to decompose in landfills, and they release microplastic everytime you wash them. It’s shown that microplastic already exist in our food chain, and we digest them everyday. It’s only a matter of time to tell what microplastic will do to our body.
Ways to minimize microplastic when you already have synthetic clothes!
Besides limiting our purchase of synthetic clothing, there are many other ways we can act on to help minimize microplastic pollution.
Wash less! Microplastic only releases when you wash synthetic clothes in water. If you already wear synthetic pieces, wash them less often or wash them in a shorter duration.
Wash in cold water. The release of microplastic lessens when you wash your clothes in colder temperature water.
Do a bigger wash load at a time. It’s shown that the release of microplastic lessens when you wash more clothes per load!
Get a GUPPYFRIEND washing bag. Available on Patagonia, these washing bags are meant to protect synthetic clothing and reduce their release of microplastic in water.
Support sustainable fashion. Buy from sustainable fashion brands, and avoid fast fashion whenever possible. And if you don’t know where to find them, you can always stop by here to check my favorite sustainable fashion brands!
I hope you find this post informative! Happy Earth Day!
A challenge many ethical shoppers face today is the lack of supply chain information. Without knowing anything about fabrics sourcing and clothes stitching, it’s difficult for shopper to make informed decisions and buy better. But the problem is that even clothing companies do not necessarily know where their clothes are being made.
Since majority of today’s fashion brands do not own their manufacturing facilities, it is difficult to monitor or control working conditions throughout the supply chain. A brand might place an order with one supplier, who carves up the order and subcontracts the work to other factories. This happens regularly across the industry and presents a great challenge for brands themselves as well as the people working in the supply chain who become invisible in this process.
As more garment factory accidents surfaced and were made known to the public, large retailers, especially the ones that are linked to the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse, are more conscious about their reputation, and they have gotten much more careful with the factories they work with. They create their code of conducts and regularly audit factories to ensure the working conditions meet their standards. Chikako Oka, a lecturer at Royal Holloway University, found that reputation-conscious companies (mostly large retailers) had 35 percent fewer working violations in their Cambodian factories than did generic brands. After all, large retailers still have more incentives and resources to defend their reputations and treat their workers better than some smaller retailers (generally speaking).
Earlier this year, Fashion Revolution and Ethical Consumer worked together to rank companies based on their supply chain transparency. And Baptist World Aid also did an executive summary on brands based on working policies too. Full reports here and here.
I hope you find this post helpful! Have a good weekend!