We’ve all heard about microplastics and the harm they cause to marine ecosystems. The primary concern is around wildlife and fish ingesting the tiny pieces of plastic causing serious harm and, in many cases, death.
One source of the microplastics we may not have heard of is found in the textile industry. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) released a report in 2017 drawing attention to the harmful effects of microplastics, especially around synthetic textiles being a major concern.
“Tiny plastic particles washed off products such as synthetic clothes and car tires could contribute up to 30% of the ‘plastic soup’ polluting the world’s oceans and – in many developed countries – are a bigger source of marine plastic pollution than plastic waste,” the IUCN reports.
The microplastics are primarily released during the washing of synthetic textiles. With each wash cycle tiny plastic fibres are shed through the abrasion of the fabrics in the wash cycle. The fibres are then discharged into the sewage systems, potentially making their way into other bodies of water, including the ocean next. According to the report, “significant amounts of these textile fibres have been observed in many in situ sampling studies both in open water and marine sediments…these fibres are typically made of polyester, polyethylene, acrylic or elastane.”
As the demand for textiles continues to grow, so will the amount of microplastics that end up in our waterways. By now we’re familiar with the harm these plastics can do and realize we need to do our part to reduce them.
Working together, an easy step we call can do to help slow the demand for textiles around the world is re-using the clothing we already have. In North America alone, millions of tonnes of clothing end up in landfills each year. Not only do they take up space in the landfill, but we’re also producing more clothing than ever when we could be re-using instead.
Re-using clothing in New Brunswick is easy! You can easily drop bags of used clothing or small household items at any of the New Brunswick Association for Community Living’s (NBACL’s) Big Orange Bins (BOBs) found in communities around New Brunswick. To find one near you, simply visit nbacl.nb.ca/ccp.
To make donating even easier, NBACL also offers a free pick up service for donated items. Simply visit the website, fill out the “Request A Pickup” online form, and NBACL will look after this rest.
Donating used clothing and small household items to NBACL supports people in your community. Through our partnership with Value Village, all proceeds paid to NBACL from the collection of donated items goes directly back into our programs which support those in our province with an intellectual or developmental disability—your friends and neighbours. It’s a win-win for the environment and for people who really need our support.