As Fibers Seep into Water, States Seek Warning Tags
By Lindsey Rupp
I have written before about the contents of the book “Fashion Victims” in which author Alison Matthews David writes of the "dangers of dress, past and present".
I think many are not aware that there are dangers in the clothing we purchase and wear. Perhaps, we assume that care and warning labels are sufficient, although I would guess not many buyers are even aware they exist (unless they are scratchy, and then they are snipped from the garment). Or it may be that the government with its thousands of protective concerns for us and the environment may be cognizant of dangers and are actually doing something proactive (not that I believe that!)
I read the above article this morning and have never considered the problem of shedding microfibers. It seems that researchers have been finding these synthetic escapees in our water supplies and are placing the blame on "garments made of polymer-based cloth" which, when washed, can actually shed as many as 1,900 fibers with each washing. These tiny devils are less than 5 millimeters in length and are not filtered by your washing machine nor water filtration plants. They are known to have been found in sea water and aquatic life, and you may not want to hear this, but are found in bottled water. So much for the crystal clean water found only in the Rockies, or maybe France.
So what is being done about this pollution? It seems as though 2 states, California and New York are proposing bills that would require a warning tag on all garments with more than 50% synthetic fiber content. Of course, this approach has not been endorsed by the retail manufacturing industry. Not that it would be an inducement to return to natural fiber clothing for the multitudes buying synthetic clothing.
There were listed 3 temporary solutions promoted by the advocacy group, 5Gyres Institute.
Firstly, wash you clothing less. It is true we go a bit overboard with cleanliness, grabbing our alcohol-based hand cleansers at every opportunity but I shutter to think of that effect on my yoga class.
Secondly, use a front-loading washing machine (why this is better, I don’t know) but they are much more efficient and use much less water per load.
Thirdly, there are, somewhere on the market, additional filters that can be added to your machine to catch microfibers. But then, what do you do with them once they have been captured?
Knowing a problem exists is only the beginning and I doubt the person who tosses (no recycling!) plastic water bottles everywhere and drinks with plastic straws would even care, after all the fibers are only 5 millimeters long!!