So, you know how we have been horrified at the number of plastic water bottles the uninformed and unenlightened have been using for a couple of decades? And then the slightly more informed started to recycle those plastic bottles… and then clothing companies started doing that great thing where they recycled those bottles into fleeces and polyester activewear so that those plastic water bottle users could STILL drink that water at yoga class and feel OK about it as long as the bottles were then recycled into new yoga pants? Well, turns out no.
Patagonia famously made an admission not so long ago that the practice of creating polyester and other synthetics out of what we now call “microfibres” is, in fact, not a solution… but an even bigger problem. Companies around the world, especially well intending clothing brands that thought they were doing a good thing by using waste product, are now realizing that these minuscule fibres are wreaking havoc on our oceans and even inside our bodies!
When we wash our clothing, even if we wash it less, we are releasing massive numbers of tiny fibres into the waterways that eventually find their way into our rivers and oceans. When they get to these waterways they absorb all kinds of toxins and then they are ingested by fish and sea life. Anyone eating that seafood then also ingests those same microfibres. They have been finding these in our bodies for quite some time now.
SO why don’t they filter them out? Well the washing machine companies would have to retrofit in a way they aren’t even sure is possible. The water treatment facilities ARE trying to filter the water that goes through plants but then that waste product has to be put somewhere. Currently it’s being used as fertilizer for farmers’ crops. Not really a solution. The only really viable solution is for clothing companies to stop producing the synthetics that create the mess, and of course for consumers to stop buying them. SO we are back to square one.
The obvious takeaway from all of this is still… plastic is bad. What can we do? We can launder as little as possible; spot-wash as much as you can. But when you are wearing these clothes to sweat in, that may be hard to do. We should always opt for natural fibres when at all possible. We can be noisy about the issue, that always gets things done. Definitely watch for brands that are working on alternatives, and question those who don’t (literally… if they think it’s wanted, it will happen). Not buying more than you absolutely need and making sure it’s worn to the end of its life cycle, as well as investing in a front-loading washing machine and hang-drying clothes, are other helpful steps to take. But basically, don’t buy plastic. Just don’t do it.
We absolutely understand wanting to take a bottle of water with you everywhere you go. We do it too. Especially if you are active (those people probably buying the recycled content yoga pants, good on you! but let’s come up with a different plan now). Did you know that bottled water has often been sitting on the shelf for years and growing algae? Did you know that even though it is marketed as “spring water” it’s actually less healthy for you than tap water? Well it might be time to rethink the why of things.
Our current favourite water bottles come from a company called S’well, who have taken the idea of “designer” water bottle so far it’s simply genius. IF they were only making them pretty, which might be enough for us, they have gone above and beyond in their designs. From marble facades to gorgeous satin finishes, their collections are stunning and there are literally a kazillion to choose from. But more than that, they are an amazing product that is triple walled to keep your beverage either cool or hot for hours and hours, and all sorts of enviro-good at the same time. If you can spend stupid money on plastic wrapped water each month “for convenience sake” you can invest in a proper water bottle. You can invest in a few, so as to colour coordinate. See? We get it.