Unless we don't… care?
Microfiber pollution has been a relatively recent addition to the list of ecological problems forced upon our planet, particularly our waters/oceans, even though scientists have known about microplastic pollution for decades. Considering the rise of synthetic materials in the textile industry it is hardly a surprise that microfibers became omnipresent. Due to their persistency in the environment the microfiber issue has slowly but surely become more than just an interest and concern of the scientists. It has been picked up by numerous environmental organizations and activists, yet still not enough is happening in terms of systemic solutions.
For years fingers have been pointing to different directions with no real impact on the will of any of the players to change the rules of the game. Despite the fact that there is so much at stake, for all of us. But what exactly is at stake? It is hard to imagine anyone claiming in all honesty that eating and inhaling tiny plastic particles could be in any shape or form beneficial to our organism . Tiny microfibers, floating in the waters, also offer a perfect surface to attract dirt, toxins, and pathogenic bacteria. Due to their size the fish and marine life confuse them for plankton. Which they eat. And so the microfibers travel up the food chain, with the process (and fibers) ending up on our plates and in our bodies. Microfibers have even been found in placentas of unborn babies! How it may affect our health, is a subject of an increased number of research studies and a recent eye-opening conference.
So far none of the players have really shown much interest to 'own' the microfiber problem. Which is in a way understandable. Why should they? It is much easier to point the finger… But is it the fashion industry that should address the problem? With the rapid growth of fast fashion the amount of microfabrics released into the environment has multiplied, so one could argue they bear their share of responsibility.
Is it the end users with the unsustainable overconsumption patterns? I mean – how many yoga pants or fleece jackets or synthetic (T-)shirts does one need, after all?
Perhaps it's the laundry industry? Several microfiber filters have been developed, with various degrees of efficiency, yet only one producer so far is offering one washing machine model with a built-in filter already. While solutions have been available for years. Addressing the issue at the level of washing machine producers truly makes a lot of sense. There are only about 30 major washing machine manufacturers in the world, compared to thousands of textile manufacturers.
So, for now, fighting for a sustainable solution has ended up on end users' 'plates'. Purchasing a retro-fit filter helps solving the problem - every household with a (PlanetCare) filter installed at home prevents one plastic bag worth of microfibers per week from being released into the waters. That's quite something. But imagine the impact if the filters become a mandatory built-in element in every washing machine!
And then there are some groundbreaking initiatives that make our hearts fill with hope and optimism. As the one with Kering. Nomen est omen. Kering comes from caring. Caring about the planet. Just like PlanetCare… Kering and PlanetCare have launched a pilot program that will address the microfiber issue in their supply chain – laundrying the fabrics purchased and used in the manufacturing process. With installing our industrial microfiber filters this will be a collaboration to pursue an innovative study to assess the possibility to prevent and reduce fibre emissions from production in denim fabric manufacturing. We are looking forward to the final report, highlighting the efficiency, waste reduction and overall performance.
For a final thought… Our partnerships are something we are very thoughtful about. We do not take them lightly. It is important to us that there is common good for all partners involved and for the end users, as well. With shared values and the joy of shared success that gives us all wings it is a modus operandi that we cherish tremendously and encourage everyone to try. Collaborations make us all richer. And when it is for the sake of the oceans, the planet, and ultimately our health, it is even so much more worthwhile.
Thank you, Kering, for caring!