You may have heard about micro beads, which are little pieces of plastic put into facial cleansers to help exfoliate the skin. Of course, it turns out they get washed down the drain and end up in our water after treatment since they're, you know... plastic. They are already well on their way to being banned.
Polar fleece is made from recycled plastic bottles, you see, which I used to think was a good thing. It's manufactured in America, too. But every time you put your fleece through the wash cycle, it sheds tiny bits of itself and they're ending up at the bottom of the river, where they
absorb toxic chemicals like PCBs and are eaten by fish, mussels and even phytoplankton.Filtering out the tiny fibers during the water treatment process is cost-prohibitive. That must be some cost, since the alternative (aside from banning the fabrics, which no one has yet mentioned) is to "design fabrics and products so they are biodegradable or don’t fragment." Well, yeah, duh, but what does that cost, and what do we do in the meantime?
“There have been documented effects on reproduction, growth, hatching rates and liver toxicity,” said Austin Baldwin, a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, which conducted the sediment study. “They can get to a size where they can pass through gut walls and cell membranes, into the circulatory system and cause damage.”
No more washing Polar fleece in my household, at least.