Some Unsettling Data on Microfiber Pollution

Microfiber Pollution: The Numbers are In

Microfibers make up the majority of microplastic pollution. They come from the plastic-based fabrics that we use (like polyester and fleece) and hundreds of thousands of them can shed in your wash in a single use. And with an increase in awareness around the problems that are emerging from microfiber pollution, the problem is becoming more difficult to ignore. With each day that passes, with each new piece of fabric that is manufactured and then washed, the problem grows.

Check out some of these unsettling estimates about Microfiber Pollution:

Microfibers have been found in water, soil samples, plant life, and even the atmosphere. Since plastic is still a relatively new invention, the long-term affects of microfiber pollution can’t be entirely known at this point. Learn more about the research that’s been done to identify its impact on ecology within the Rochman Labs microfiber policy briefing: https://rochmanlab.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/microfiber-policy-brief-2019.pdf

Each year, it’s estimated that more than 2 million tons of microfiber plastics are released into the ocean. That’s 4.4 billion tons! Further, it’s estimated that 1.5 million trillion of microfiber is currently in the oceans. Read more at ScienceDirect.comhttps://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0025326X19300451

While we don’t yet know the long-term impact of plastic pollution on humans, the impact on animal and marine life has been documented. Upon ingestion and absorption, the plastic can transfer to their tissue and cause gut impaction, hormone disruption, and liver damage. Read more at the Story of Stuff’s website. https://storyofstuff.org/uncategorized/the-story-of-microfibers-faqs/


We could go on and on. The facts are out there. The details are grim.

But that’s not the end of the story. There are movements happening across the globe to slow down the trends, to repair the damage that’s been done. At Filtrol, we’re honored to be part of the solution to put an end to this massive, microscopic problem. Find out more about who we are and what we’re doing, click here.

What is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch…It’s Much Smaller (and Much Bigger) than You Might Think. 

Many of us have heard stories about a floating island of garbage and plastic floating in the Pacific Ocean. Some of us have Googled it. The exact specifics of this floating mass of filth vary depending on a variety of different things. Its size is currently estimated to be twice the size of Texas…which is 1.6 million square kilometers (about 618,000 square miles). Its mass is probably a bit more troubling, as researchers are considering the possibility that there could be up to 16 times more plastic in this floating heap of trash than previously thought. This means that, just like most things, what we’re observing on the surface doesn’t tell the whole story.

Most people know that plastic is not biodegradable. But just for a day, observe all the things in your life that are plastic. Lighters. Cups. Toys. Bowls and dishes. Parts of our cars. The list goes on and on. Now think about what you do with a lighter when it stops working. Consider what you do with the Red Solo Cup when you’re done using it. What about when your kid’s toy breaks?

This isn’t meant to make you feel terrible. Well…maybe a little. But the point is that we all tend to view plastic as disposable. It’s cheap and convenient, and and so we use it without hesitation. Rarely do we consider the implications of one plastic cup, of one used up lighter. 

Much of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is made up of microplastics. The Garbage Patch isn’t a floating island of milk jugs. These tons upon tons of plastic are all sorts of sizes, with many of them being tiny, microscopic pieces of plastic that give the water a murky, cloudy look and stop the growth of plankton and other sea life. They make their way into even the most microscopic ocean creatures and work their way up the food chain, eventually ending up on our kitchen tables.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is growing by the day. The problems its causing are becoming more and more evident, though the extent of the implications won’t be known for years. Unless we all take seriously the part we have to play in slowing this problem down, we probably won’t see much change.

At Filtrol, we are committed to seeing the problem of microplastics disappear in our lifetime, and we believe it’s possible with hard work, strategic partnerships, and the right steps forward.

To find out more about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, click here

To learn more about what the Filtrol does to stop plastic pollution, watch this video

Plastic Pollution: It’s What You Can’t See

It’s easy to look around and see plastic pollution all around you. Plastic bags are snagged in branches. Weathered water bottles with missing caps are flattened on roadways and in ditches. Rivers’ edges are littered with pieces of garbage. A nominal effort could fill multiple garbage bags.

What most people fail to recognize is that the majority of plastic pollution that’s causing harm isn’t the plastic pollution that’s an eyesore at the beach and in our neighborhoods. Microscopic particles of plastic are affecting the quality of our water and the condition of our food. Fish are consuming massive amounts of micro fleece particles that are flushed into our streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans. Underground water aquifers, which supply much of our drinking water, is absorbing millions of non-biodegradable micro plastics. 

Random samplings of water from tiny streams to Great Lakes all show one, undeniable truth:

It’s What We Can’t See That’s Hurting Us

The trillions of microfibers in our planet’s water sources were put there by us. With each wash of man-made fabrics (like that fleece blanket you like), with each flicking of a cigarette butt to the street, we’re littering our planet with microscopic plastics.

The microfibers that are polluting our water are smaller than 5mm in length. The problem with these microscopic particles is that they’re made entirely of synthetic, man-made materials. They do not break down. They do not disappear. And the smaller they become, the more difficult they are to capture and remove from our ecosystem.

The problem isn’t going away. And while it seems that the plastic we see floating down the river and buried in the sand is causing all of the issues, the real threat to our water, our wildlife, and our overall health is something altogether microscopic.

The Filtrol: One of the Solutions for a Very Big Problem

At Filtrol, we’re from Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes. We grew up fishing and hunting, enjoying the outdoors and doing what we could to protect it and preserve it. Because we care so much about our environment, we are constantly building, innovating, optimizing, and investing in solutions that will help us preserve the outdoors we love so much.

This love for the outdoors is what brought us to become the manufacturer of the Filtrol, which blocks micro plastics from leaving your home and entering the ecosystem. As our journey with micro plastic filtration as unfolded, we developed new products and new strategies to effectively make an impact in our ecosystem. We are preparing to release a sink-mounted version of the Filtrol that is even more effective than our previous versions.

Sharing in our efforts to inform people about the true impact of plastic are groups around the world. Some of them are non-profits who are simply trying to steer the ship toward global change. Some are providing practical solutions to help remedy the problem.

One such organization is the Plastic Pollution Coalition. The PPC is seeking to raise awareness of the worldwide plastic crisis that is impacting our waterways, our wildlife, and our health. They’re doing it with the help of Jeff Bridges (often referred to as “The Dude”), which definitely makes them gain instant credibility in our minds. Their work is educational, legislative, and practical.

Did you know that, based on weight, in 30 years, based on current trends, our oceans will have more plastic than fish in them?! That’s a lot of plastic. By working to eliminate single-use plastics (like that red Solo cup you’re drinking out of) and by seeking to educate people about the true adverse affects of plastic on our ecosystem, the PPC is doing everything it can turn things around.

While the problem may seem enormous, and even too complex to solve, we all have a part to play in the solution. We can all cut down on our single-use plastics. We can stay educated through resources like the Plastic Pollution Coalition. And we can all install simple solutions like the Filtrol to stop micro plastics from leaving our homes and entering our ecosystem.

A Snapshot of Microfiber Pollution: Tampa, Florida

Tampa’s Microfiber Profile…a sobering look at the realities of plastic in our planet’s most plentiful – and most polluted – resource. 

The exact number of plastic particles floating in oceans, lakes, and streams around the world can’t possibly be known. Trillions. Each of these particles are from man-made fabrics and materials. None of them are breaking down.

For just a snapshot of the micro-plastics issue that’s facing our globe, look at Tampa Bay. Here, in this relatively small sampling of ocean water, researchers have discovered 4 billion plastic particles floating back and forth. The majority of these pollutants are fibers that originated in fishing line and nets as well as in synthetic clothing (materials like polyester). The estimate of materials within Tampa Bay is based upon samples taken from several feet below the water’s surface. It doesn’t account for more buoyant particles and it doesn’t speak to areas just outside the immediate area or samples of water from deeper in the ocean.

While it may seem logical and prudent to try to remove these particles from our waterways, history, technology, and experience is showing us that the pieces are far too many over a space far too vast. Given existing resources and technology, removing these particles is not a feasible option. Even a massive, dedicated undertaking will yield very little in terms of measurable results or improvements in the condition of water. Micro-particles of plastic and manmade fibers that are 5 mm in length or smaller have been discovered as far away as the Arctic, and many of these pieces will be in our water for more than a lifetime. With trillions of them being introduced into our ecosystem daily, and with not real way to remove them, our options to address this problem are limited.

Kinsley McEachern, the author of the Tampa Bay study and a Environmental Science and Policy student, noted that, ”Only by removing the sources of plastics and micro-plastic particles can we successfully decrease the potential risks of plastics in the marine environment.”

The solution is in stopping the pollution where it starts. We must engineer solutions that stop the microfibers from ever entering our ecosystem. If we can do that, and if we can begin to generate movements that cause us to cut back on plastic use and allow us to rethink how we dispose of it, we can begin to see changes in the years to come.

Check out what Filtrol is doing to put the brakes on microfiber pollution, check out .

Ralph Lauren – Making the Best of Plastic Pollution

This month, Ralph Lauren debuted a line of polo shirts made entirely of plastic bottles. While they aren’t the first clothing line to release such products, they are among the most well-known. For Ralph Lauren, each “green” polo (which comes in a variety of colors) is made of 12 plastic bottles that would otherwise remain trash for eternity (or at least for the 450-1000 years that it takes for plastic bottles to decompose).

At Ralph Lauren, they acknowledge that they are simply making the best of a bad situation. These plastic bottles have already been manufactured and have then been discarded. Manufacturing these shirts is simply repurposing the plastic that is already staying in our ecosystem. This isn’t solving the problem of plastic pollution…it’s redefining it. 

As this article states, “the broader question of biodegradability of such fibers remains unresolved. For Polo Earth, the story is about recycling and reusing, David Lauren, the company’s chief innovation officer, said. ‘Right now, we’re trying to make sure that what we produce is as good for the environment as possible, or at least helps clean up another problem. Are we creating a new problem? I think we’re creating solutions, or at least trying to find solutions.’”

You can read the full article here.

At Filtrol, we appreciate the tactics taken by companies like Ralph Lauren, making the best of the big plastic problem that’s plaguing us. We also understand, however, that these fabrics that they’re manufacturing are pushing out millions of micro plastics into our ecosystem. Those plastics enter our water sources, our foods, and eventually our bodies. 


The plastic pollution problem isn’t going away any time soon. But there’s certainly more we can all be doing. To find out more what you can do to stop plastic pollution, click here

Liquid, Powders, and Pods Oh My!

How do you choose which laundry detergent to toss into our shopping cart? Do you choose the one with the the cute stuffed animal snuggling with all amazingly soft and great smelling towels? Do you choose the cheapest option? Is your choice based on what’s popular or what a celebrity endorses? Or maybe it’s what’s best for the environment?

There are just too many variables to really talk through all the options. 

So rather than focusing on brands and reasoning behind choice, let’s look at the 3 different forms of laundry detergents and talk about what’s worth talking about.

What do we need to know about each form? Is there anything beyond the simple question of “Will it clean your clothes?” 

LIQUID

Liquid detergents are said to work great on items soiled with oils, grease and food. It can also be used as a spot cleaner (unlike the other forms) and is pre-dissolved and can be used with any water temperature. Unfortunately, liquid detergents usually have a higher price point than powder detergents and their plastic containers are not eco-friendly.

POWDER

Powder detergents are usually less expensive compared to liquid and pod detergents. Most powder detergents are packaged in cardboard boxes making it more eco-friendly than others choice of packaging. The downfall with powder detergents is that it can be hard to dissolve in some water conditions, such as hard water. When this happens, clumps of detergent can remain in your load of laundry.

PODS

It’s all the rave. They’re convenient, compact and user-friendly. The pre-measured amount of liquid detergent is conveniently wrapped up in a small gel pac. It eliminates measuring and waste and will dissolve in all water conditions. The Downfalls? With detergent pods, you will be paying for the convenience. They have the highest price point between the three choices. Pods have also gained a lot of media attention due to the serious health hazards they cause and are not recommend in households with children. 

So what form will you take, Liquid, Powder or Pod? Whichever you choose, be aware of the hazards and hangups with each one. 

Image Credit: Julie & HeidiPete,https://www.yourbestdigs.com/reviews/best-laundry-detergent/

Synthetic Fibers vs Natural Fibers

The list of fibers in fabrics is endless. No matter how many there may be, they can all be placed in one of two categories: Synthetic or Natural. What makes a fabric one or the other? Does it matter?

Any textile that is man-made is considered to be a synthetic fiber fabric and any textile made from a form of plant or animal is considered a natural fiber fabric.

Some Facts about Synthetic and Natural Fibers: 
The Good, The Bad, and the Plastic

Although these lists are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to comparison, they show you that, like everything, both categories have their positives and negatives. The biggest negative to synthetic, man-made fibers, is that they most often made of non-biodegradable plastics. This means that they will never break down (at least not in our lifetime) and microscopic versions of them will end up in our water sources and eventually in our food. 

Take a Look for Yourself

Look at some of the tags on the clothes in your own closet. You just may be surprised by all the different types of fibers used to compile that fabulous wardrobe.

In reality, 60% of all clothing made today is made with synthetics, so it may be a bit of a task to find something that is completely free of any synthetic fiber. There are a number of clothing companies and brands that are passionate about using only organic, non-toxic and eco-friendly materials. If you are thinking it’s time to go all natural, try researching eco-friendly clothing brands and you will be shocked by how many there really are. Eco Friendly Fashion Brands is just one place you can find a list of brands that are all natural.

Make sure to keep checking your labels and be aware of what you’re wearing.

Image Credit: putri macan

Top 5 Laundry Tips To Help Prevent Microfiber Pollution

Your washing machine is producing an alarming amount of microfibers with every load of laundry. While some fabrics and materials tend to shed more than others and older fabrics tend to shed more than newer ones, in the end, everything sheds. If it’s fabric, it’s going to break down over time. 

Tip 1: Wash your clothes less: Refrain from washing certain articles of clothing unless they are truly dirty. The more you wash an article of clothing, the more it sheds. Washing your clothes ages them. Older garments tend to shed much more than new ones. So consider washing your clothes less and spot cleaning as necessary.

Tip 2: Buy clothing made from natural fibers: Natural fibers like cotton, wool, hemp and silk are all biodegradable, meaning in time they will biodegrade if they are released into the environment. Synthetic fibers like polyester, nylon, rayon and spandex are plastic non-biodegradable. They will never biodegrade after being released from your washing machine. They are pushed out of your washing machine and into your wastewater. Eventually they end up in our water sources and food. 

Tip 3: Avoid doing small loads: Doing large loads of laundry will reduce the friction between the numerous pieces of clothing. This means less fibers are being released. If possible, wait to do a load of laundry until you have a full load. 

Tip 4: Choose Front Loading vs. Top Loading Washing Machine: Studies have found that front-loading washing machines cause less shedding than top-loading washing machines because front-loading machines use lower levels of water. Also, top-loading machines have a center agitator, which causes more friction which causes more shedding.

Tip 5: Consider a lint filter for your washing machine: Most washing machines do not incorporate a lint filter within the machine. For those that do, the effectiveness is unknown. If you’re concerned about microfibers being released from your washing machines, a lint trap or filter should be considered. Some research is required to find which would be the best option for your set up. 

You could start by checking out The Filtrol160 , our revolutionary microfiber lint filter for your washing machine. 

                    Follow these 5 simple tips when doing your laundry and you will be on your way to reducing

                                                             microfiber pollution before you know it! 

Is That A Fiber In My Fish?

Microfibers in Our WaterYou may not see them with the naked eye but they are there. Microfibers may go unnoticed to us, but to fish, shellfish, and other aquatic animals, they look like a meal. To get an idea of how small they really are, check out these fibers we collected in one of our Filtrol160 filter bags during a load of laundry:
 

So Why Are Microfibers a Big Deal?

First, we need to understand what a microfiber is. Microfibers are tiny fibers that are shed from your clothing every time they are washed. Now some of those fibers may be natural and will in time biodegrade. But most of our clothing – 60% of our clothing today – is made from what is called synthetics, which is a man-made product of plastic. It is non bio-degradable, which means that it doesn’t go away, even in its most microscopic form. Thousands of these fibers go down the drain along with the waste water from your washing machine. That water then moves to your local waste water treatment plant to be filtered.

Does Water Treatment Stop Microfibers?

Although waste water treatment plants can remove anywhere between 85%- 95% of the pollutants in the water it processes, it does not remove microfibers. Because of the size of the microfibers, 65 million of them are still sneaking through the system on a daily basis. Once they get through the waste water treatment process, they are released into local water ways like lakes, rivers, and oceans.

What Happens to Microfibers in Nature?

Now all of those tiny plastic microfibers are in our water and they’re not going anywhere good. Once there, these fibers do something very much like a snowball effect. They start attracting toxics found in the water, building layers of harmful contaminants. Due to their small size they become appealing to something else that is small, microorganisms like plankton. 

Welcome to the food chain microfibers.

Once the plankton ingests a microfiber, it can remain in their system for hours and can also have negative effects on their eating habits. Plankton is a main food source for many aquatic animals such as shrimp, crab, clams, and all sizes of fish. Up the food chain those microfibers go. Can you guess the next link that has the pleasure of ingesting the unwanted fibers? You guessed it. Us. When we can’t resist an awesome sushi bar or an all you can eat shrimp and fish fry, we’re actually consuming microfibers. Thousands and thousands of them. 

Here’s a visual of everything I just explained (because who doesn’t love pictures in a story).

Keep fibers off your plate!

There are ways to reduce to the amount of microfibers reaching our waterways. One way would be installing a lint filter that attaches directly to your washing machine discharge hose. With this, you would be preventing the microfibers from ever leaving your house. Check out our lint filter – the Filtrol160 – and keep those fibers out of your food.