The latest studies suggest that textiles are the largest source of both primary and secondary microplastics, accounting for 34.8% of global microplastic pollution according to Fashion Revolution. I don't have the source for that though.
A microplastic (MP) can be defined as a small piece of plastic less than 5 mm.
1.Primary microplastics are pieces of plastic that are already small when they contaminate the ocean.
- Synthetic Textiles: abrasion during laundry (35%)
- Tires: abrasion while driving (28%)
- City Dust: weathering, abrasion and pouring (24%)
- Road Markings: weathering and abrasion by vehicles (7%)
- Marine Coatings: weathering and incidents during application, maintenance and disposal (3.7%)
- Personal Care Products (microbeads): pouring during product use (2%)
- Plastic Pellets: incidents during manufacturing, transport and recycling (0.3%)
2.Secondary microplastics are small pieces of plastic from the degradation of large pieces.
- All plastic waste (bottles, bags, straws, fishing nets, textiles, etc.) that break into smaller and smaller pieces over time.
About 1.5 million tonnes of primary MPs and 8 million tonnes of secondary MPs contaminate the oceans each year.
Microplastics are not contaminating only water. A German research based on several studies suggests that terrestrial MP pollution is 4 to 23 times higher than marine MP pollution.
It's also in the air.
Here’s the problem
It will be very difficult, if not impossible, to separate these particles from the environment.
We find MPs in our food: sea salt, honey, sugar, beer, bottled water, etc.
There are MPs in animals: fish, birds, whales, turtles.
This pollution is spread all over the world, even in the most remote places.
Microplastics can degrade into nanoplastics.
In 2018, MPs were discovered in human stool for the first time. I’m starting to believe there are microplastics in you and me right now …
Above all, we don’t know the long-term impact of this contamination.
Are there Solutions ?
1. Reduce single use plastic.
- Reusable bags
- Reusable water bottle
- Zero waste (bulk) grocery
- Reusable utensils
- We already know about that...
2. Reduce synthetic fibres in your clothes
Polyester, nylon, acrylic, spandex, etc. especially fleece fabrics (fleeces, hoodies, joggings) Favor clothing made with natural or cellulosic biodegradable fibres (organic cotton, hemp, linen, viscose from bamboo, TENCEL™ Lyocell).
Knowing that synthetics are more than 60% of the today's fibre market, it's not realistic to say that we can completely avoid those.
3. Filter microplastics from your clothes
Written by Ugo Dutil :
I grew up in the ecovillage Cite Ecologique. I like this way of life that values human relationships, sustainable development and personal growth. I’ve been working with Respecterre since 2013. I'm fascinated by hemp, minimalism, slow fashion, local supply chains, zero waste, viscose production and transparency.