It’s The Conservation Conversation With A Difference. Icebreaker Outdoor Apparel Company Is Challenging Us To Reduce Microplastics Entering The Oceans As A Result Of Our Weekly Wash
The fashion industry has a huge environmental impact, consuming large amounts of water and energy to produce what we wear and now it’s been revealed that each and every time we wash synthetic clothing, as many as 700,000 plastic microfibers are released into the oceans. And that’s in just one wash.
UNSW Dr Mark Browne researches the impact we humans have on natural habitats. He says “plastic bottles and bags have long been identified as the most abundant culprits of oceanic plastic; however, our research shows that microfibers can make-up over 85% of debris on shorelines”. He and his team “study the environment like a crime-scene” gauging the impact on marine ecosystems – and ultimately our food chain.
So, while the obvious solution is to wear t-shirts more than once before washing, many of us would say ‘ewwww’ at the thought…right? Well, outdoor apparel brand icebreaker says the idea is not so ‘on the nose’ and to help alleviate this environmental burden the company is challenging us to make the move to garments made from natural fibers. Chief Brand and Producer Officer, Carla Murphy, says “icebreaker is a vehicle for change, bringing the issue of microfibers to the forefront”, she added “The apparel industry has to do better. We can’t just keep recycling – that’s a temporary fix”. At icebreaker they believe there is a better way, and nature has the answer. Carla explains “Our t-shirts are made from Merino Wool which means they need less washing, because it’s naturally odour resistant. Washing clothes less means even fewer microfibers released and can help reduce the burden on the world’s water resources.
Bondi Lifeguard Harrison Reid is onboard with the idea. His ‘wake up moment’ was discovering that, via the food chain, humans consume around five grams of microplastics per week – that’s equal to the size of a credit card! A Bondi local, the ocean’s been his backyard all his life and he says “washing less is one small step we can all take to make a big difference.”
Icebreaker supported long-distance swimmer Ben Lecomte when he donned his wetsuit to cut through the Pacific Garbage Patch recently. The Frenchman swam over 550km across the giant vortex of rubbish in order to raise awareness of plastic waste in the environment and collect data on microplastics and microfibers. In just one 30-minute period the team collected 30,000 pieces of plastic in a sample containing a very high density of microfibers “the problem with microfibers is that you just can’t see them with the naked eye” he says. They’re the hidden issue for our oceans, our marine-life, and for us.
With 60% of our wardrobe items made up of synthetic rather than natural materials, Carla Murphy encourages us all to “be curious, check the labels of clothes before purchasing to avoid synthetics, ask more questions of the clothes you’re wearing. Be informed!”
So, will you #movetonatural with #teesforgood, and wear your icebreaker tee every day, and only wash it every once in a while?
For more on how you can reduce plastics in our marine environment go to: https://thecarousel.com/news/elyse-knowles-focuses-on-harmful-effects-of-single-use-plastics-to-protect-the-ocean/