As someone who works from home, I am all about leggings! Athleisure is my friend! As the wife of an Environmental Consultant, this is a problem! I'd like to say I always read the labels, but I don't and as a result, I can unknowingly contribute to the growing problem of microplastics and microfibers in the oceans! And yes, it matters.
Fabrics like microfiber cloths, clothes with polyester, nylon, polyamide, and acrylic fabrics are some of the fabrics that contribute to the problem. When we wash the fabrics tiny microfibers (microplastics) are washed down the drains and are too small to be filtered at the wastewater treatment plants. As a result, these fibers end up in our waterways, streams, and ultimately in the ocean. They are so prevalent that they are now in the flesh of the fish we consume! Meaning, we are now consuming microplastics, and this is not the only source.
In 2022 it was documented that between 200,000 and 500,000 tons of microplastics from textiles enter the global marine environment each year. EVERY YEAR!! Source
The majority of microplastics from textiles are released the first few times textiles are washed. Source
51 Trillion tons microplastics litter the sea floor! Trillion, with a T!!
Micrplastics and fibers have now been found at some of the deepest levels of the sea as well as the highest elevations of our planet. They are everywhere
Microfibers are in the air we breathe.
Microfibers have been found in honey, bottled water, fish, beer, chicken, and tap water.
Microfibers are also released in tumble dryers and it is estimated that 120 million fibers a year may be released from 1 dryer!
Some scientist are concerned that the massive exposure to microplastics may impact our DNA, cause inflammation, and create oxidative stress, and impact our immune response.
What Can you do?
Just like food shopping, become a label reader and try to avoid clothing with acrylic, Nylon, Kevlar, microfiber cloths, microfiber fleeces etc.
If you do buy them, and the reality is most of us do, wash them in something like the GuppyFriend Bag and hang them to dry instead of using the dryer. Side benefit is that it will make your clothes last longer.
Separate your clothes by texture as well - Don't wash scratchy fabrics with nice soft ones. It acts like sandpaper creating more fiber loss.
If your clothes didn't get sweaty and nasty try getting an extra wear out of them.
Use greener laundry detergent, we use Shaklee Fresh Laundry Concentrate. (affiliate link).
Wash in cold or cool water
Some companies who are making change
PACT. I just tried this for the first time and I love the feel of these leggings.
Patagonia. This company is bringing it! They are working on all fronts to make our environment safe and healthy!
Tell us your fav sustainable athletic wear!
Like you, I will continue to wear athletic wear, but hopefully, like you I will become a smarter shopper and user. As people become more aware and voice their concerns and desires, more companies will be prompted to produce safer products. Together we can be a change for our environment. Let's have hope!