We are living in a material world, and the consequences are not pretty. Recent research reveals that every time we wash our clothes, we are all polluting the Bay.
Half the clothing on the market is made of synthetic material derived from plastic (acrylic, nylon, spandex, and polyester). One item of synthetic clothing can produce up to 1900 microfibers per wash. These microscopic fibers pass through filters at water treatment facilities, ending up in the Bay and then the ocean.
The San Francisco Estuary Institute determined that the San Francisco Bay is the most plastic-polluted body of water in the country. Water samples from the South Bay contain 2.6 million microplastics of 5 mm or smaller per square mile compared to 285,000 in Lake Erie, the most polluted of the Great Lakes.
Mark Browne’s research reveals high amounts of microfiber pollution near sewage outfalls in densely populated areas. These toxic fibers are swallowed by fish that could end up on your dinner plate. Solutions to this problem are difficult and costly, requiring new filters at water treatment plants and switching all synthetic materials to natural and benign alternatives.
To reduce your own microfiber pollution, choose organic cotton, hemp, and bamboo clothing.