I recently came across the website “The Story of Stuff Project” and their video “The Story of Microfibers“. I was devastated to find out that the microfiber cloths that I use (and a lot of my clothes) are putting little bits of plastic into the water system that are too small to be strained out and therefore go into the ocean and our fish. I didn’t realize that the synthetic cloths, and also a lot of my clothes, are really just a form of plastic. The lint from these materials are technically bits of plastic. When I wash my cloths and clothes that lint is going into the water system. Of course I use microfiber cloths because they are so convenient. They are multipurpose, they wring out well, you can use them wet or dry, to dust, to clean, on and on. That goes for synthetic clothes as well – quick drying, non wrinkling, wicking technology…all modern and convenient…and harming our oceans and our own health. I am not sure where to go from here. Do I keep using the cloths until they are falling apart and continue to put microfibers into the water system? Or, do I throw them into the landfill and buy new cotton ones (or use old t-shirts etc)? How about my clothes? Do I throw out all my clothes and buy new ones that are natural fibers or just replace my clothes with natural fiber ones as they wear out? Meanwhile putting microfibers into the ocean? Not sure what to do.
One of the lessons here is that there is a lot of focus on reducing packaging and reducing energy consumption, for example, but our negative impact on the environment is so pervasive. Every part of our daily activity has the potential of harming our environment from what we wear to cleaning materials and solutions to packaging to what we choose to eat. Maybe the easiest change to focus on is packaging. But we need to do things differently in all aspects of our lives.