Why microplastic pollution is still a fashion concern – Sourcing Journal
Although many New Jerseyans still openly lament the plastic bag ban that went into effect in May, millions of people around the world are taking part in Plastic Free July, an initiative of the Plastic Free Foundation, an organization whose the vision is to “see a world free of plastic waste. Among this waste is microplastic pollution of the oceans, more than a third of which comes from synthetic fibers made by clothing.
At this point, the majority of all clothing is made from polyester and other petroleum-based fibers. And their microfibers contribute to microplastic pollution because every time consumers wash their clothes, millions of tiny particles are washed away by wastewater and enter rivers, oceans, drinking water and the food chain. Experts say it’s high time the fashion industry started listening not only to environmental authorities, but also to consumers themselves.
“The planet cannot afford an industry that is not advancing,” McKinsey senior partner Achim Berg said in an episode of The McKinsey Podcast. “Consumers have become more demanding in this regard. Many people have stayed home throughout the pandemic. They had more time to reflect on their spending habits. We have seen a big shift – especially in Western Europe and North America – in how consumers perceive sustainability and what they demand from brands. Therefore, brands will have to do everything. It’s not going to get any easier for brands across the industry over the next 18-24 months.
Majority of consumers say cotton clothing is the most sustainable (76%), according to 2022 Cotton Incorporated lifestyle monitorMT Investigation. Additionally, 40% of shoppers say sustainability is very important when considering the clothes they are considering buying.
The Plastic Soup Foundation, a non-profit marine conservation organization, aims to reduce synthetic fiber pollution by 80% in the coming years. He intends to do this, among other things, by exerting pressure on clothing manufacturers.
Separately, another institution claims that “the unsustainable trajectory of the modern fashion industry is alarming.” The Changing Markets Foundation, a London-based organization set up to accelerate solutions to sustainability challenges, released a report earlier this year that claims 10 major industry certifications, labels and voluntary initiatives amount to nothing more than meaningless speeches.
“It seems that instead of taking precautionary measures regarding the limitation of microfibers [sic] version, a majority of brands rely on TMC (The Microfibre Consortium), which, although charged with developing a universal measurement method, has – after years of work – only released this method to paying members and not to the public,” Changing Markets says the Foundation in its “License to Greenwash” report. [sic] of synthetic materials, ostensibly ignoring the science suggesting that plastic microfibers are more persistent in the environment and cause more health damage.
Beyond general durability, the majority of consumers (66%) say it is important/very important that the clothes they buy are made from materials that can biodegrade or decompose when the garment arrives in end of life, according to MonitorMT The data. A growing number of consumers (40%, up from 35% in 2021) are aware that microfibers in clothing pollute the planet’s oceans and waters. The majority of consumers (66%) aware of microplastic pollution know that much of it is caused by washing clothes made from synthetic fibers. And almost two-thirds (65%) who are aware of microfiber pollution say this awareness will affect their future clothing buying decisions.
Coresight Research says sustainability is a key trend to watch in retail.
“Consumers are increasingly demanding that the brands and retailers they buy from improve sustainability and transparency; employees want to work for sustainable companies; and investors select ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) to limit risk exposure from unsustainable companies,” Coresight says in a report.
Companies looking to be transparent with consumers while avoiding adding to microplastic pollution in Earth’s waters can turn to plant-based products like cotton lint. While cotton clothing also releases microfibers into waterways during laundry cycles, research indicates that cotton disintegrates significantly in fresh and salt water and degrades 76% after 243 days in water. worn. This compares to polyester, which degrades at only 6%. This translates to 95% more cotton degradation than synthetic fibers in the same amount of time.
Because cotton fibers are natural and biodegradable, 100% cotton fabrics can help reduce a brand’s contribution to the growing microplastic pollution of oceans and waterways.
Environmentally conscious consumers also say that cotton clothing is of the highest quality (71%) and most durable (59%) compared to synthetic clothing, according to the MonitorMT to research. Additionally, fashion designers and brands should consider that most consumers are willing to pay more to prevent cotton from being replaced by cheaper synthetic fibers in various categories of clothing, including underwear and underwear. -clothing (63%), t-shirts (60%). ), casual clothing (56%), jeans (54%), children’s clothing (51%) and sportswear (51%).
The theme for this year’s Plastic Free July challenge is “Turn the Tide, One Choice at a Time” and celebrates the collective impact of millions of people around the world who choose to refuse plastics.
Plastic Free says: “From governments and brands pledging to design for a circular economy, to individuals making choices in their daily lives, we know this wave of action is driving regulation. and legislation globally.
The Cotton Incorporated Lifestyle Monitor™ is an ongoing research program that measures consumer attitudes and behaviors around clothing, shopping, fashion, sustainability, and more.
For more information on the Lifestyle Monitor™ survey, please visit https://lifestylemonitor.cottoninc.com/.