September 16, 2021

Why Are Microplastics Bad?

By Elisa Rerolle
Why Are Microplastics Bad?

And how can we help reduce microplastics in our lives?

Why are we writing about this? Because knowledge is power and Modern Shibori believes that by informing you about issues like microplastics, you'll make more sustainable, conscious choices as you go about your daily life. Read on, brave reader.

Understanding Microplastics

By definition, the size of microplastics is tiny, but they have an incredible reach. The term microplastics “describe[s] plastic particles smaller than 5 millimetres across ... Scientists have since seen microplastics everywhere they have looked: in deep oceans; in Arctic snow and Antarctic ice; in shellfish, table salt, drinking water and beer; and drifting in the air or falling with rain over mountains and cities. These tiny pieces could take decades or more to degrade fully.”1 Their size and their invisibility have allowed them to roam free across the globe so far, affecting the environment on an impressive scale.

This same article (quoted above) states that there is no definite proof of the harm that these tiny plastic particles could cause yet, but many theories of possible effects of microplastics on living creatures exist already. In animals and humans, microplastics could be destructive by: entering cells to create cancer, provoking damage to respiratory systems, causing chemical toxicity, increasing animal starvation rates (as they fill their stomachs with plastic) which stunts their growth. While more study is necessary to fully confirm the negative outcomes, just the list of possibilities is chilling.

Everest

photo credit: The Guardian, Nov 2020.

Microplastics in Everest 

Did you hear about this? Another study demonstrated the wide reach of microplastics. They have been found in snow samples collected in 11 locations on Mount Everest, a place so challenging to reach that it could be considered safer from the spread than most. And yet, that is not so: the contamination stretches beyond the ocean limits. The article states:

“The fibres were most likely to have come from the clothing, tents and ropes used by mountaineers, the scientists said. Other recent discoveries of microplastic pollution in remote parts of the Swiss Alps and French Pyrenees indicate the particles can also be carried by the wind from further afield.”3  Later, a researcher, Imogen Napper, states a solution to counter this terrible phenomenon: “[M]any microplastics are shed from clothing made from synthetic fabrics, and ... a focus on better fabrics [is] needed, as well as using natural fibres such as cotton when possible.”2

Unfortunately, clothing containing polyester and/or other plastics pollute throughout the entire lifespan of the garment, from creation in the factory to end of life in the landfill. With synthetic materials, every wash and even just daily wear creates microplastics that linger on the planet for far too long. These microparticles cannot be contained and infiltrate all parts of the Earth. 

woman holding scarf

photo: Modern Shibori silk scarf with natural dyes. Photo shoot, 2020.

But never fear! There is a part each of us can play in fighting this invasion of microplastics. You can invest in your clothing intelligently and sustainably.

Modern Shibori’s GOTS-certified organic fabrics

Choosing natural fiber when purchasing clothing is a real and effective way of limiting this growing threat. Modern Shibori is always made from natural fibers, selecting organic fabrics whenever possible. In this way, Modern Shibori offers you, dear customers, better choices for a healthier world. Together we are greatly reducing the addition of microplastics to the ecosystem. And so, onward, let’s get educated. 

Modern Shibori makes a conscious choice in fabric selection. We use GOTS-certified fabrics to ensure quality and maximize positive impact on the world.

In order to aid transparency and support consumers in their eco-conscious shopping, there is a set of criteria that must be met in order to gain the label of certification from the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). Modern Shibori makes the choice to work with GOTS-certified material because it believes it is the best choice for both customers, the planet, and the laborers that work to produce the product.

 
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The GOTS mission is to create a set of requirements for the environment and the laborers involved in the creation of textile, ensuring the use of “organically produced raw materials.”3 Their philosophy emphasizes farming in a manner that “maintains and replenishes soil fertility without the use of toxic, persistent pesticides or synthetic fertilisers.”3 It completely bans GMOs.

As customers, our choice in the clothing we buy makes a difference: wearing organic, non-synthetic fabric means reducing the amount of microplastics we emit through wash and wear. In order to help the fight against microplastic pollutants, as old pieces of our closets need to be replaced, why not swap them out for natural fiber clothing? 

The other major benefit about natural fiber clothing is, they just feel great on and last a long time. What's your fave natural fiber in your closet? Linen, cotton, hemp, wool or silk? Post in the comments below. We'd love to know. 


1https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-01143-3

2https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/nov/20/microplastic-pollution-found-near-summit-of-mount-everest

3https://global-standard.org/the-standard/philosophy