Hello wonderful people, we recently attended the Future Fabrics Expo - The Sustainable Angle - and I must say it blew my mind. If you are feeling conscious about the environment and the plastic problem then read on dear friends but be prepared I was left feeling quite emotional from what I learnt.. the situation is bad.. very very bad.
Michael Kininmouth from Lenzing Group presented a seminar on 'The Microplastics Problem' and I spent the entire hour aghast thinking it can't be this level of terrible.
To be clear on the problem - microplastics are produced by textiles: minuscule plastic fibres can be released when synthetic materials are washed, finding their way into the water system and then the sea, where they can enter the food chain when they are consumed by fish. Last month, a study from the National University of Ireland in Galway showed that 73% of Atlantic deep-sea fish surveyed had ingested microplastics.
Here are some horrifying facts:
In the last 18 years we have made more plastic than since it was invented. ALL of which still exists today.. it never disappears, it just gets smaller.
8 million tons of plastic enter the ocean every year.
The plastic you can see on the surface of the ocean represent only 1% of what is actually in the ocean.
Even mosquitoes are ingesting plastic when they are water based in larvae form meaning it is entering land animal food chains.
78% of the water we drink contains micro plastics, even bottled water.
Microplastics are even in the air we breathe and plastics absorb toxins, entering every part of our lives.
What's the solution? What can YOU do?
Unfortunately we have been led to believe that recycling and changing consumer habits will help the problem but the monster is huge and we need to start at the centre of the problem, the corporate polluters.
There's a lot that the government needs to do -
An increasing number of countries have now imposed a ban on disposable plastics and plastic bags, or established concrete targets for reducing plastic consumption and waste. This effort must be scaled up, so that global plastic consumption goes down. You can do your part by refusing to use these products.
We must increase producers responsibility.
Increase fees and taxes on polluting plastics. The fees must be changed so that recycled plastic becomes cheaper than fossil.
Increase waste management where the problem is greatest - The bulk of plastic waste comes from developing countries. Rapid population growth and a swelling middle class means the consumption of plastic is increasing faster than the capacity to handle the plastic waste, and therefore much of the excess ends up in the sea. China and Indonesia are among the countries that produce the most plastic waste. (This is where our fabric supplier collects mountains of plastic bottles to be turned into our fabric!) As part of the solution, an international aid programme should be established to develop waste management and recycling infrastructure.
Implementation of the zero vision for ocean plastic.
Increased mapping, surveillance and research - Researchers estimate that more than 70 percent of the plastic ends up on the sea floor. Over time, it breaks down into tiny particles, but we do not know what happens to this material or how to get rid of it. The efforts to map and monitor, as well as conduct research on the negative effects, must be strengthened.
Stop the flow of plastic waste into the sea and increase funds for clean-up.
We need to think bigger and demand a better system from the people at the top.
If you're interested in learning more about the microplastics problem from a fashion point of view - the environmental and economic impact the fashion industry has on our planet. I'll be attending Circular Economy Club - London - Fashion "Fast Five" and Debate on 21st February. Tickets are free!
We'll leave you with some principles Mangata London are endeavouring to focus on..