Most of us can agree that plastic is a problem. All the plastic that has ever been made is still with us + most likely will never fully decompose (though projections offer a 200 year time line for decomposition). On the other hand, plastics can be difficult to avoid completely...think eyeglasses, oxygen tubing, the plastic liners (and usually dispensers) that our bulk food comes in. So we recycle.
Some recycling is necessary at this point (though we try to reduce our need for it's energy + oil guzzling ways)...so for years we've heard that in order for recycling to gain momentum we need to purchase items made with recycled materials. We pay a little more for recycled paper that is often not quite as white. We paid a little more for recyclable toothbrushes + razors made from recycled plastics (before the arrival of bamboo toothbrushes on our shores). We bought fleece tops + jackets made out of recycled plastic bottles too.
Plastic recycled into fabric (fleece + polyester) is likely one of the main sources of those plastic fibers not only in the ocean...but now in our tap water. With each wash, new fibers escape into the water stream. These fibers are too tiny to be filtered out...and they end up inside of us. I don't need to wait for the studies that will inevitably follow about the ill-effects of this plastic inside of me to decide that I don't like it.
Action #1 :: No more fleece or polyester.
I've held this view for a while, but there is some previously purchased plastic fiber in our home. Rather than figuring out how to install an expensive washing machine filter + purchasing the replacement bags, I'd prefer to let the source of shedding go. It's tough to figure out if it would ultimately be better to find our existing pieces new owners (because that wouldn't stop the shedding)...or to landfill it (because that just seems a bit beyond my comprehension). I think that finding a new owner may be marginally better, because it may prevent them from buying a newly produced fleece or polyester piece. What I do know is that I will not buy it again.
Action #2 :: Urge Patagonia to stop producing fleece from plastics.
I am also going to urge Patagonia to stop producing fleece from plastics...and I'd love for you to join me. Patagonia is the source of my original knowledge about this issue. I believe they care about oceans, lakes + streams, and they are an ethical leader in the industry. Their current plan seems to focus more heavily on reducing + catching the plastic fibers than on stopping the source of the problem altogether. They say that they are working on biodegradable options, but there are a lot of current season, plastic derived, fleece garments on their website right now. I'm sure that fleece is a top-selling product for Patagonia, but I believe in their ability to both innovate + take a stand. Hey, Patagonia...think wool fleece...or super dense, organic cotton fleece. Make a stand and discontinue plastic derived fleece from your line up. Be the trailblazer I believe you are!
All photos via links.
What do you think?
P.S. Worth a mention :: the in-production Cora Ball that claims to be a microfiber catching laundry ball