The unsavory side of polyester

Polyester, once the object of fashion ridicule, is probably the most common synthetic material in clothing today.  It’s strong, wrinkle resistant and moisture resistant.

But polyester is a type of plastic, and in recent years a very significant problem has come to light: it sheds tiny fibres, especially during washing.  These microfibers are often too small to be filtered out by sewage treatment plants and thus end up in our waterways and oceans.  A 2016 study estimated that synthetic fleece jackets released 1.7 grams of microfibers every wash.  And now they’re showing up in fish and seafood too.  (Watch The Story of Microfibers here.)

What to do?

  • Where possible, avoid polyester and choose clothing made of natural fibers like cotton or wool
  • If it has to be polyester, choose high quality as it sheds less
  • Wash polyester clothing as little as possible and on as gentle a wash cycle as possible
  • If you’re up for it, contact manufacturers to express your concern and ask them to research and develop better products. Polyester shedding is a global issue, and all textile manufacturers will need to be part of the solution.

Our waterways and oceans are worth it.

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“Planet Earth” or “Planet Ocean”?

Oceans cover about 70% of this planet’s surface; if whales or dolphins had been in charge of naming the place, they’d probably have called it Planet Ocean instead of Planet Earth.

Oceans are critical to us: for food, recreation, temperature regulation, re-absorption of carbon dioxide and more. So it’s important to keep them clean. Of all types of litter, plastic is of particular concern because much of it makes its way to the ocean, where it persists for a very long time, as shown in this graphic. (And plastic doesn’t ever really go away; it just breaks down into tiny particles called microplastics.)

Plastics

Most plastic ends up in oceans through wind and water (rivers, storm drains and sewers). So – please help keep plastic out of our oceans by not littering, and by picking up plastic whenever you can.

…so let’s make sustainable seafood choices

Overfishing has become commonplace in a world where more and more people need more and more food – and our oceans are showing signs of strain.  A 2006 Dalhousie University study concluded that salt water fish will be essentially gone by 2048 if present fishing patterns continue.

Each of us can help prevent this from happening by choosing only sustainable seafood.  So what’s sustainable?

Seafood Watch, a leading authority on sustainable seafood, has a handy downloadable card listing the best and worst choices, and a smartphone app that keeps you constantly up-to-date.  And David Suzuki’s top ten sustainable seafood picks can be seen here.

Healthy oceans are vital to a healthy planet – so please make sustainable seafood choices.