Sometimes I feel more like a chef than a designer because just like a chef, I think about every little ingredient that goes into every one of our garments. When cooking, bad ingredients don’t become better just because they look savory and in clothing design bad materials don’t become better just because they’re pretty. Nope, bad stays bad and that’s why I’ve been grappling with our use of recycled poly lately.
A few months back, I read an article about how the polymers from all the workout fabrics we’re wearing are polluting our waters and choking our plankton.
At first I thought the fabrics we used were better because they’re not the high density mircro-fiber fabrics found in most athletic wear (read our High Price of High-Tech blog). After doing some homework however, I’ve learned that all fabrics shed.
So what’s an eco-clothing designer to do?
Since learning about this issue, I have been doing a ton of research (and losing a ton of sleep) in order to find the perfect fabric alternative.
Like all clothing designers, we aim to create clothing that fits well, is super comfortable and of course, beautiful. Let’s face it, we gotta wear clothes!
As a clothing manufacturer that prides itself on a flattering fit, there’s no way to get around using polymer fabrics and Spandex in our collections. Currently, we use cotton/modals, organic cotton and recycled cotton along with recycled polys, but all our fabrics have stretch in them, which means they all contain a small amount of Spandex.
Even if we changed everything and only offered drapey clothing made from hemp with no shape or support… (say goodbye to those great bras, panties, running tanks and leggings!) we’d still have the issue of how to wash the fabrics we already have in our wardrobes.
Throwing these clothes away would choke our landfills, yet wearing and washing them literally fills up our fish.
What’s even worse is we aren’t the only clothing company out there using these polymer fabrics or Spandex in our clothing.
Polyesters, Nylons and Rayons make great athleisure and exercise gear, so much bigger companies like Lulu Lemon, Nike, Under Armour and countless others use these micro-fiber fabrics to create the majority of their clothing. Let’s face it: I don’t see those guys changing the fabrics they use anytime soon.
We’ve grown accustomed to the way these amazing micro-fiber fabrics look and feel.
Most consumers aren’t willing to give them up, but when “a single jacket can produce up to 250,000 fibers in washing machine effluent,” we must find an immediate solution to stop the flow of this plastic from our washers to our waterways now!
Last month I was interviewed by Krystal Folkestad Grant, a freelance reporter from Change Creator (read the interview here). I was expressing my frustration with this issue and she found an immediate solution made by a German company called The Guppy Friend Washing Bag.
This bag actually captures those small micro-fibers shedding from our clothing so they never hit out waterways. It’s brilliant and it works. Just pull the fibers out of the bag after each use.
Another terrific idea is the Cora Ball. This ball is put into every load and it grabs those tiny microfibers in its spikey but soft tentacles. Simply clean it after every use by picking out the fibers in the same way you would clean a hairbrush.
These inventions are a quick fix for halting the incessant plastic pollution our clothes create, but we need a long term solution. We all must wear and wash our clothes and in doing that, we’re all contributing to the plastic pollution in our waterways. It’s time for our hi-tech washers to catch up to our hi-tech fabrics.
If they can create machines that can communicate with the repair center when you call for help or use half the water they used to, why can’t these machine manufacturers create filters fine enough to catch these fibers with every wash?
My hope is eventually they will create washing machines with filters fine enough to catch these microplastics shedding into our waters at an alarming rate. It’s up to us to push them and until they change, the Guppy Friend and Cora Ball are a great fix.
What can you do? First, purchase one of the items above and start using it right away. Then, write Scott Pruitt the current head of the EPA (firstname.lastname@example.org) and your senators asking them to push for higher standards from washing machine manufacturers.
MAJAMAS EARTH has always been focused on how our clothing impacts our planet. That’s why we only use fabrics made in the USA under strict environmental standards and manufacture all our clothing here too. We do as much as we can to create beautiful eco-friendly clothing that doesn’t hurt our beautiful planet so learning that every fabric sheds tiny fibers into our water has literally crushed me. I mean, clothing is our entire business but I refuse to ignore what clothing is doing to our water and fish. We really want to find a solution so we endorse the products above and welcome others that can do the same thing.
In our eyes, it’s either we get responsible about how we wash our clothes or we all go naked and…. um, that second option is definitely not what we’re pushing for!
Time to #CAREWHATYOUWEAR (and how you wash it)!
– Germaine Caprio, Company Owner & Designer
TO HEAR FROM YOU
How do YOU prevent plastic pollution?
Please share your own thoughts with us – let’s get a conversation started in the comments below! Your comment may even win you a free MAJAMAS garment this week!