The fast fashion industry moves at a breakneck pace, with trends rapidly appearing and disappearing. Yet, there's an often-overlooked downside to the glamour and excitement of fast fashion: microplastic pollution.
Microplastic pollution is a growing environmental concern because it serves as a medium for toxic substances that can be absorbed into the body, causing diseases of the endocrine and reproductive systems. The fashion industry is one of the primary sources of this pollution because synthetic fabrics are among its most significant contributors.
Let’s raise awareness about this problem and explore how the addiction to trendy, inexpensive clothing is fuelling the growth of microplastics in our oceans and harming our lives.
Microplastics and Synthetic Fabrics:
Microplastics are minuscule plastic particles that measure less than 5 millimetres in size. These tiny fragments come from various sources, such as larger plastic debris that degrades into smaller ones and synthetic fabrics. The issue with microplastics is that they do not quickly decompose into harmless molecules and can take hundreds or thousands of years to decompose, posing a significant environmental threat.
On beaches, microplastics are visible as tiny, multicoloured bits in the sand. In the ocean, plastic particles risk human health by entering the food chain through marine organisms that ingest them.
We are all surrounded by plastic, from furniture to toys, water bottles to clothes. Most of the items produced for the fast fashion industry are made from cheap, synthetic, and non-biodegradable plastic materials like polyester, nylon, and acrylic, which are so popular because they are low-cost, durable, and quick to dry.
The Washing Machine Connection:
Imagine your favourite polyester shirt or acrylic sweater going through the wash. During this process, thousands of microfibres are shed and eventually find their way into the water system. These microfibres are so tiny that they can easily pass through wastewater treatment plants, ending up in our oceans where they seriously threaten marine life.
Many studies have concentrated on releasing microfibre from synthetic textiles during washing, with wastewater being the primary way for the fibres to enter the aquatic environment. However, microfibre are also emitted during textile production, when garments are worn, and when they are disposed of at the end of their life. These fibres can spread through water, air, and soil.
Over time, clothes release more microfibre , even though they shed less after each wash. As we said, fast fashion is often made from synthetic fibres and can release many microfibre when washed. These microfibre can be harmful to the environment. Studies have suggested that synthetic fabrics are a significant source of ocean microplastic pollution.
Sustainable Alternatives and Consumer Awareness:
Many brands aim to reduce microplastic pollution, but we are still far from a real change. To reduce microplastic pollution, we should eliminate our dependence on synthetic textile consumption, change our washing habits, and spread awareness.
As consumers, we have the power to drive change. Choosing natural fabrics such as wool, cotton and hemp and supporting brands prioritising eco-friendly practices can make a significant difference.
Being mindful of how we care for our clothing can help reduce microplastic pollution—washing clothes less frequently, using a microfibre filter, or opting for a bag that prevents microplastic fibres from entering rivers and oceans when washing synthetic textiles. Every single step can contribute to minimising the release of microfibres.
Are you ready for the change?
It's understandable how tempting fast fashion can be, but it's crucial to recognise its negative impact on the environment. As consumers and members of the fashion industry, we must take responsibility and address the correlation between fast fashion and microplastic pollution.
Let's work together to make a positive change for our planet. By making thoughtful decisions, endorsing sustainable practices, and spreading awareness, we can work together to incorporate a more environmentally conscious aspect into the fashion industry. It is crucial to redefine our approach towards fashion to ensure that fashion doesn't harm the planet.
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