Your Favorite Fleece is a Pollutant

A snuggly fall fleece paired with hot mulled cider and a pile of crimson leaves is practically a ‘make-your-own autumn kit.’ Everyone who experiences a crisp and cool autumn has a favorite fleece.

But, according to recent research, your fleece is no friend to the oceans. Every time a synthetic fiber—like nylon, polyester or acrylic—is washed, it loses thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of microfibers. The bulk of these tiny plastic threads flow out of your washing machine and resist filtration in water treatment plants, meaning they end up, eventually, seeping into our delicate oceans.

What’s so bad about microplastics accumulating in our oceans you ask? These plastics often sink to the bottom of the ocean where they’re consumed by filter feeders such as clams, mussels, plankton and anchovies. As it steadily moves up the food chain, plastic begins to show up in the cells of larger animals. Do you want to eat plastic-infused fish? Yeah, well they don’t want to live in it either. Truly, we don’t know what the long term ramifications of our plastic-dumping practice will be.

Having concerns about their synthetic fibers causing ocean pollution, Patagonia, known for their well-wearing fleeces, recently commissioned a study to determine how many synthetic microfibers are actually lost in the laundering process and whether type of washer or type of fleece matters. The study estimated that we lose enough fibers from fleece each year to fill up 11,900 grocery bags! They plan to use these results to pioneer the industry by creating methods to reduce fiber loss.

The worst offender is your oldest, most dearly loved fleece. It loses up to 80 percent more fibers than a new garment. Textile manufacturers are not required to meet any sort of restrictions on shedding, so beyond the fleece jackets studied, we really can’t know what other synthetic fabric items are putting the oceans at high risk. Hopefully this work by Patagonia will pave the way for other environmentally-conscious manufacturers.

If you’re in the market for a new jacket, maybe it’s time to rethink synthetic fleece and go for the original fleece: merino wool. Made from the sheared fleece of sheep, wool is warmer than your synthetic fleece. It is also composed of natural fibers that won’t clog our oceans (they break down—thanks nature). Just be sure you purchase from a company with high standards for their sheared animals.

Want to keep that dearly loved fleece? Launder it as little as possible. When you must clean it, reduce shedding by filling your machine to the max, using a liquid detergent instead of powdered, using a fabric softener and washing at a low temperature. Enjoy this video and get involved:

Do you think washing machine manufacturers should start integrating filters in the machines to stop synthetic fibers from making their way into the oceans? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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126 comments

Thomas M
Thomas M11 days ago

TYFS

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Gino C
Gabriel C1 months ago

Many thanks

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Gino C
Gabriel C1 months ago

Many thanks

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William C
William Cabout a year ago

Thank you.

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Jerome S
Jerome S2 years ago

thanks

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Jim V
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for sharing.

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Chun Lai T
Chun Lai T2 years ago

Ty.

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for sharing.

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Kirsty Mayfield
Kirsty M2 years ago

thankyou for sharing :) :) xx

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Kirsty Mayfield
Kirsty M2 years ago

thankyou for sharing :) :) xx

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