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What you need to know about microplastics

According to recent studies, there are more than 5,000 billion pieces of plastic on the surface of the oceans. This is the equivalent of nearly 269 thousand tons. Our clothes could well be one of the main causes of this phenomenon. Indeed, synthetic textiles such as polyester, nylon or acrylic generate an enormous amount of invisible polluting debris called microplastic and microfibre.

How do microplastics and microfibers pollute our oceans?

Every time you wear or wash your clothes, fabric fibres measuring less than 5 mm detach from them. Some will be trapped in the filter of your washer/dryer machine, but others, too small to filter, will end up in the sewage system and be discharged into the oceans. The numbers may vary from one study to another and according to the type material, but researchers agree that several hundred tonnes are released into the ocean each year. According to a recent study by Metro Vancouver and Ocean Wise, the majority (70%) of the microplastic particles found in wastewater treatment come from textile fibres.

Are there any alternatives?

Unfortunately, all fabrics, regardless of the brand, deteriorate over time and inevitably produce synthetic microfibers. Nevertheless, some fabrics are more damaging to our oceans than others. Synthetic polymers such as polyester, nylon and acrylic are materials derived from plastics and account for the majority of total microplastic debris. Research shows that garments made of synthetic fibres release about 1,900 fibres per wash. They should therefore be minimized. Natural fibres such as cotton or wool also produce microfibres, but in smaller quantities and would be an alternative to consider.

What you can do to limit the amount of microplastic

To reduce the amount of microplastics and microfibres dumped into the oceans, you can use textiles made from wool (merino) and cotton. It is strongly recommended to use liquid rather than powdered laundry soap to avoid the accumulation of scale deposits on the microfibres released into the oceans.

Tip: Wash your clothes in cold water when using liquid laundry soap to avoid the development of bacteria in your washing machine

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CapTen's initiatives to counter the phenomenon

Although the industry has yet to find a solution to counter this phenomenon, CapTen is making sure to limit its use of synthetic textiles. All our caps are made of 100% cotton. We also donate 10% of our profits to the Mission 100 Tons Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to cleaning up the world’s oceans. Shopping at CapTen is a way to contribute to ocean clean-up efforts.
Sources:
  • https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0111913
  • Browne et al. 2011, Environmental Science & Technology
  • https://www.futura-sciences.com/planete/actualites/ocean-microplastiques-nos-vetements-polluent-oceans-36375/

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