Last weeks’ blogpost was about macroplastics and my take way from The PEW Charitable Trusts and SystemiQ's recent report “Breaking the Plastic Wave: A Comprehensive Assessment of Pathways Towards Stopping Ocean Plastic Pollution". This one is about microplastics.
Microplastic is everywhere and it’s one of the biggest environmental problems that most people haven’t even heard of. The tiny plastic pieces are found in the arctic ice and the remotest parts of the deep sea. They are in our everyday foods and in our bodies. The harm microplastics are doing to our health are not yet fully scientifically studied, but the indications are overwhelming.
What is Microplastic?
The PEW Charitable Trusts and SystemiQ defined microplastics as pieces of plastic between 1 micrometre (μm) and 5 mm in size that enter the environment as microsized particles—widely called primary microplastic.
“Out of the ~20 potential sources of primary microplastic, the four sources we modelled represent an estimated 75-85 per cent of total microplastic leakage. Among these four, the largest contributor, by mass, to 2016 microplastic leakage into the ocean was tire dust, contributing 78 per cent of the leakage mass modelled; pellets contribute 18 per cent; and textiles and personal care products contribute 4 per cent combined. There is a different pattern in terms of the number of microplastic particles entering the ocean, with tires and textiles being the main sources of leakage.”
"These four sources of microplastics now contribute about 1.3 million metric tons of microplastic leakage into the ocean annually, estimated to growing to 3 million metric tons in 2040."
The report concludes that "solutions should focus on reducing microplastics at their source because it’s more cost-efficient and feasible than collection of microplastic particles already in the environment."
Meanwhile until those solutions are actually implemented, what can you do to help reduce microplastic leakage into the environment?
From the four main microplastic sources, for the consumer the easiest to start with are textiles. As we learned countless microplastics from synthetic textiles are making their way from washing machines into rivers and oceans with each wash.
In my own research I came across The Guppyfriend Washing Bag, which is a scientifically approved filter solution to stop microplastic pollution caused by washing synthetic textiles. It’s entirely made of untreated polyamide and can be recycled with other groups of identical materials (PA 6.6). The bag also has the OEKO-TEX STANDARD 100 certification label, which means you can be certain that every component of the article has been tested for harmful substances and therefore is harmless for human health.
What Guppyfriend Can Do
The Guppyfriend Washing Bag significantly reduces fibers from breaking and thus extends the lifetime of your textiles.
According to tests by scientific institutes, it reduces the breaking of synthetic textiles by 86% on average.
The fibers that do break during washing are captured inside the bag and can be easily removed.
I washed my clothes made of synthetic materials in my Guppyfriend Washing Bag last weekend. They came out clean, and indeed there was microplastics residue.
Another useful point, Guppyfriend has a TEN FOR THE OCEAN Washing Guide on how you can change your washing habits to help solve the problem.
If you want to get your own click here. Ad Vitam is not affiliated with GUPPYFRIEND, we just like them. 😉
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