Microplastics: A Microscopic Problem of Epic Proportions
Microplastic Pollution. It’s a conversation that’s gaining momentum. With a greater emphasis on social responsibility and with more ways for normal, everyday people to make a difference in very practical ways, the issue of microfiber pollution is becoming more commonly known and more frequently discussed. From considering what efforts we can make to slow down plastic’s snowballing effects to looking for solutions that will address the problem in practical ways, the microplastic conversation is taking place around the globe.
So What Is Plastic Pollution?
We’re not talking about milk jugs floating down the Cuyahoga or the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. We’re not addressing the massive problem that plastic grocery bags are to our ecosystem or the issues that plastic water bottles are having in countries having water crises. Though these are all legitimate issues that need to be addressed.
The plastic pollution that we’re talking about here is microscopic in size and massive in impact. It’s small enough that it looks harmless (and has subsequently been dismissed as inconsequential for decades). But now, with more research and more conversations being led by environmental enthusiasts as well as by business owners, politicians, and entrepreneurs, microfibers are being seen as a credible threat to our ecosystem.
Microscopic pieces of plastic are being found everywhere you can imagine. From the top of the Rocky Mountains to the depths of Minnesota’s Boundary Waters. From the fish you catch in the river to the pint of India Pale Ale at your dinner table. Plastic is found in the food you’re eating and in the water you’re drinking. It’s everywhere.
What’s Causing Plastic Pollution?
Much of what is described as innovation or progressive movements in modern manufacturing is exacerbating the microplastic pollution problem that needs to be addressed. When plastics are recycled, they’re often re-engineered to be used for many common household items, including that shirt that you’re wearing. 60% of our fabrics are actually made of plastic.
The synthetic fibers we wear regularly shed with every wash. Every load of laundry dumps tens—even hundreds—of thousands of these microscopic particles into the wastewater that leaves your home. The particles are small enough to pass by filtration and treatment processes and end up spit back into our ecosystem. And because they’re plastic, they don’t go away. Ever.
The problem goes beyond our fabrics. Plastics are found in everyday, household cleaners. They’re in cosmetics and soaps. They’re manufactured by the wonders of modern technology. But they don’t go away and have found their way in every corner of our world.
So How Bad is It?
This is a bigger conversation than a few statistics or some pictures of plastic-ridden water, and it’s one that we at Filtrol are excited to be part of. According to great organizations like oceana.org, “An estimated 17.6 billion pounds of plastic leaks into the marine environment from land-based sources every year—this is roughly equivalent to dumping a garbage truck full of plastic into the oceans every minute.”
The conversations that are happening can help you find ways to make a significant difference for the problem. And as the conversation continues, do everything you can to stay informed of the problem that’s facing us and to stay aware of the solutions that are available to us. Some solutions start with the kinds of clothes you buy or the kinds of soaps you use. Some solutions involve changing the way you live or simply educating yourself about the products you’re using. All of the solutions are aiming to face a massively impacting microscopic problem.