Synthetic clothing fibers in our oceans

12 August 2015
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Last year I read an article that made my heart sink. It was about synthetic clothing fibers in our oceans. Months before I had only just reached my first year of living plastic free and I was feeling pretty good.

The article said:
85% of the human-made material found on the shoreline were microfibers, and matched the types of material, such as nylon and acrylic, used in clothing.

I closed the article with dread. Here was yet another plastic that was doing harm and frankly I did not know how to write about it let alone deal with it.

Since that article I have halved my wardrobe, taking boxes of clothing and shoes to charity stores. Since that article only clothes made of natural fibers have been making their way into my wardrobe BUT I still have a synthetic clothes made of nylon and polyester that I wear each week. Of which up too 1,900 fibers can be rinsed off my clothing and into the water during a wash.

Last week a news outlet published a similar story here and I can only imagine this issue gaining more traction.

Even when I tell people that I don't buy plastic because I try to live plastic free, my statement is met with questions about the thread in my clothes. I agree awkwardly that is an issue I am trying to figure out. Banning synthetic fibers is the obvious step but not the easiest.

Sure I could take the polyester and nylon clothes of mine to the local charity stores and go completely natural so that when people do ask about plastic fibers in my clothes I can go "Ha, but it's natural"...but am I just putting my clothes back into the cycle where they will be bought, worn and washed by another person?

And what happens if everyone started doing this too - what do we do with all these synthetic clothing that we can't use? Insulation? Incinerate? Can they even be recycled into something else that won't get into our oceans?

Am I better off keeping them, boxing it up in my attic, so someone else does not continue to send plastic fibers out into the world?

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