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Recycling Facts, Plastic Marine Debris & Clothing

While reading up on plastic pollution today I found some great resources from the University of Florida - Florida Microplastic Awareness Project. In this 3 page powerpoint they discuss why being aware of microplastics is a big deal. First, petroleum-based plastics never break down - these come from polyethylene, nylon and polypropylene. Plastics contain toxic chemicals such as Bisphenyl A and phthalates. When these plastics are in the water they attract toxins "like polyaromatic hydrocarbons, DDT pesticides, PCBs" which stick to the plastics making them have high concentrations of these toxins. Animals that live in or on the water can eat the plastics thinking they are food, they are then affected by the chemicals in and on the plastic as well as their digestive systems can have problems eventually leading to starvation and death. There is also this 5 page fact sheet that has more details.

They also have this 5 Things You May Not Know About Plastic Recycling which had something I was not aware of - plastic bottle caps ARE recyclable! Also it discusses Reduce, Reuse and Recycle and how now we need to start Rethinking, Refusing and Repairing.

They also have this 48 minute YouTube video about where Plastic Marine Debris.

At 16 minutes they show a global map of where plastic waste is ending up in the world. It shows China has 8.8 million metric tons! This is in an area where the people eat and depend on a fish diet. Even though the US, per the map, may not be a huge contributor most of our consumer products come from these areas. This is where conscious consumerism really comes into place. Where was the product you bought from? How long will it last? Would it be worth buying an item that has a higher price tag but is made from a more sustainable product AND will last longer? We are all in this together because there is only one earth, we need to make better decisions even if it's small steps - any change we make is important.

As I was looking more into clothing causing microplastic waste I found yoga pants and work out clothes were brought up in several blogs and news articles because of the synthetic fibers they contain. Since most of us already own clothes with synthetic fibers I looked for something to help with my own clothes. I found this washing bag by GuppyFriend that collects the fiber shed while washing anything with synthetic fibers. I bought one to try out, I am curious to see the fibers that come of our clothes and will share how it works in the future.

Here are some other sources of information:

NOAA Marine Debris Program

Life Beyond Plastics: How Yoga Pants Are Destroying the Ocean

EcoTextiles - Polyester and Our Health

Who What Wear - Worst Fabrics for Skin