The problem with Econyl and Aquafil

This will probably be a very unpopular post. And I am OK with that.

You may have heard that there is a new kind of clothing in town: clothes made from plastic bottles and ghost fishing nets. You may also have heard that the production of Aquafil and Econyl cuts carbon emissions to up to 80%.

Great, right?!

Microplastics in the news

In other news, you may also have heard about microplastics and microfibres, and how humans ingest about a credit card’s worth of plastic every year. This stat made everyone blink twice.

You may also have read that fingerlings (juvenile fish) eat microfibres like junk food: they love it for some reason, but just as it is with us, junk food is not good for their health or development.

Not so great…

 

So… what’s your deal, Yvette?

Here’s my issue with Econyl. Whilst I am all for making things like sunglasses, skateboard decks and 1 million other consumer items from recycled plastic, I firmly believe that we should not be making clothing from it.  Not from Econyl, not from Aquafil, not from virgin plastic.

 

Bureo was one of the first companies to become known for making products out of discarded fishing nets. I used them in my lesson plans back in 2015.

 

 

 

This video by The Story of Stuff explains more about microfibres, specifically:

 

 

 

I doubt that the clothing industry will stop making clothing from Econyl or Aquafil anytime soon, especially since they’re riding the greenwashing wave of eco-friendly, closed looped-ness. In addition, while good looking people tell us that we should wear it, we will. It’s a bit like the marketing for Fyre Festival…

Solutions, please?

Surfrider suggests some ways to cut down on your microfibre shedding problem:

Here are a few. The rest can be found on their website.

3 ideas (out of 10):

1. Buy less and buy natural

If you need to buy, invest in natural fibres like organic cotton.

2. Wash less, and when you do use cool water

Hot water encourages shedding, so a cool wash (30C) is better. You don’t have to wash your clothes every time after you’ve worn them, BUT if you’ve done a workout… please do. Fabric softener also encoourages shedding, so it’s best to avoid using it.

3. Invest in a filter/microfiber trapping system like PlanetCare, Filtrol,or Guppyfriend . PlanetCare is a closed-loop solution, externally fitted filter that can be attached to the outside of any washing machine. You return the filters to the company, where they reuse 95% of the product, and recycle the 5% as insulation panels.  It has been independently tested to catch up to 90% of microfibres. It has also been endorsed by the Plastic Soup Foundation.

The Coraball has been reviewed as being ineffective against small microfibres.

Not convinced yet? Here are some more resources:

Ecowarriorprincess.net 

theconversation.com

asustainablelife.co.uk

beachapedia.org

TLDR: If we don’t want plastic microfibres in our bodies, fish, water and air, we should probably stop putting it there…