Are Your Clothes Polluting The Ocean?

Hot on the heels of Wednesday’s World Environment Day, comes today’s World Oceans Day. Thanks to a certain Mr Attenborough, people are really starting to sit up and take notice of what we’re doing to our oceans. And also why it matters. As the Worlds Oceans Day website reminds us, the ocean:

  • Generates most of the oxygen we breathe
  • Helps feed us
  • Regulates our climate
  • Cleans the water we drink
  • Offers a pharmacopoeia of medicines

Whilst most people know about plastics polluting the ocean, have you ever considered the effect that your clothing has?

Are Your Clothes Polluting The Ocean? | Thimble End

Yet Another Blog Post In Which I Moan About Fast Fashion

Fashion, more than any other industry in the world, embraces obsolescence as a
primary goal; fast fashion simply raises the stakes (Eric Abrahamson, 2011)

You already know how I feel about fast fashion. I’m not perfect, but I’m a way more conscious consumer that I was. I buy things to last. I consider my purchases. I wear things over and over again. The problem with the fashion industry is, of course, that it doesn’t want us to behave like that. The fashion industry wants you to get excited by all the new things at low low prices.

It seems to me that, like never before, younger people are more invested in saving the planet. But this doesn’t seem balanced with statistics such as “17% of younger people won’t wear an outfit again once they’ve posted it on Instagram”.

Yes, but what has this got to do with the oceans, I hear you cry? Well, here are a couple of statistics for you:

  • 60% of fast fashion is made from polyester
  • In a single wash, one piece of clothing releases 700,000 fibres
  • The fibres from synthetic clothing are microplastics
  • 30% of ocean plastic pollution comes from microplastics
  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature estimates that 15% to 31% of marine plastic pollution is released by household/industrial products

Ugh, right? It’s not enough the the production of these synthetic fabrics and then the garments made from them is wreaking all kinds of environmental damage but even washing them is.

Are Your Clothes Polluting The Ocean? | Thimble End

What Can We Do To Avoid Ocean Pollution From Our Clothes?

Obviously we’re not going to all stop buying clothes or washing them, nor am I encouraging you to. I think the key here is being more mindful of our choices and making small manageable changes. For example, I have to wash a fair amount of school uniform here and that’s not something I can cut down on.

  • Buy less clothing made from synthetic fabrics such as polyester
  • Buy less synthetic fabrics when sewing your own clothes
  • Think about your purchases carefully, is it something you really need?
  • Where possible, invest in clothes that will last a long time
  • Only wash clothes when they need it (yes, you can wear those jeans again!)
  • Look for an eco-friendly detergent for your clothes, there are plenty out there. You can even make your own if you have the time
  • Help your clothes to last longer by avoiding the dryer

Of course, not everything on that list is doable by everyone, of course it’s not. But even if you just choose one; like buying less polyester garments, you’re still making a difference. Being eco-friendly and mindful of the environment doesn’t have to be all or nothing!

If you’ve got any tips to add in the comments, please do 🙂

Toria

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