Honduras, Antarctica, Korea, San Francisco…what do these global destinations have in common? Turns out, microfibers have found their way into the air, water, and even ICE in these unique cities, countries, and continents. Oh, to travel like a microfiber does! Following the wandering microfiber on its global journey, we also traveled to these places in 2022 as we continue to explore plastic pollution with a science-based, sector-specific lens.
Much of our research in the coming years will focus on textiles as one unique sector of plastic use in society and source of emissions to the environment. And it’s a big one – microfiber contamination is ubiquitous globally, and these tiny fibers make up the majority of microplastics in habitats and wildlife around the world ([link removed]) . One known source of microfiber emissions is washing and drying clothing. Increasingly, wastewater from washing machines has been a subject of concern and scrutiny by scientists, policymakers, and brands. However, we know very little about the scale of this contamination. Our current “Plastic Air” study investigates airborne emissions from commercial laundry facilities to provide data that we, as Honest Brokers, can share with decision makers to develop solutions.
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In 2023, we will weave our way through the textile sector – leading a microfiber-focused expedition in California, sharing our science on microfiber emissions in cities, and hosting a “WOVEN” symposium to workshop solutions around textile shedability standards, take-back programs, and the ever looming polybag issue. By bringing together scientists, brands, and policy makers, we can foster collaboration and promote leadership to tackle textile waste – from production to pollution.
Your support keeps us going as we continue our urgent work to stop plastic pollution at the source. We are grateful for your dedication to the truth, science, and a bright future without plastic in our environment, clothes, and bodies.
Dr. Lisa Erdle
Director of Science & Innovation
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The 5 Gyres Institute . P.O. Box 5699 . Santa Monica, CA 90409 . USA