How to solve the macro and microplastics issue

As we are celebrating Worlds Ocean Day, it is time to reflect and really see how we are impacting the life below water. It breaks my heart when I see so much marine fauna dying because of abandoned nets, eating microplastics, and change in their habitats. Roll your sleeves and let’s clean our own mess. Tell me in the comments what will you be implementing to help and drive change.

WHY ARE THE OCEANS SO IMPORTANT?

Oceans are very important. I would even say they are key to our own survival. Yet we don’t stop polluting them in so many- and even creative ways. I would want to see that same creativity to fix the issue we created in the first place. You might not understand the importance of their role, so let me brief it a bit. It is not in vain that this issue has its own SDG a.k.a Sustainable Development Goal nr 14. It is really that important.

Oceans absorb around 30% of CO2 produced by humans. This is directly related to global warming and climate change. Yep! Unless you are Trump, you know this is happening and not a far fetched risk. They clean our air and regulate Earth´s temperature.

Around 40% of the oceans are badly polluted already. That is changing the acidity balance, affecting their capacity to capture CO2 and impacting the lives of all marine beings. This translates to impact the whole food chain, which includes us and all the coastal habitats. Oceans cover 75% of the Earth and by volume, it is home of 99% of species- most of them we don’t even know of their existence as yet.

Did you know around three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods? The fish stocks are overexploited beyond sustainability yet the fishermen are turning into garbage collectors.

An average of 13,000 pieces of plastic litter is found per square kilometer of ocean. At this pace, in no time there will be for real more plastic than fish.

How to solve the macro and microplastics issue
Recommended read -Fashion and Activism: The Trash Mermaid

THE BIG PLASTIC

When we go to the beach, it is really annoying to see all those bottles, cigarette butts and cans loitered around. If you are like me probably you will start picking up everything on sight suspicious of being abandoned. This is one of the things we can do. Organize a beach clean up meet up! Try to make it fun, invite some friends and do a barbeque as an incentive. Of course, make sure only your footprints are left behind!

But what brought that garbage there in the first place? Our dependency on plastic and our inability to dispose of it properly. So to fix that, first, let’s try to avoid plastics in the first place. Most single-use plastic is easily replaced by more long-lasting products. Unless for medical use, there is no reason for single-use products. Say no to plastic straws, cutlery, extra packaging, bottled water… We understand we need to drink water, but get yourself one refillable. We can replace pads and tampons with menstrual underwear, fabric pads, and menstrual cups. Really, get out of your comfort zone and stop acting by default.

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Happy World Oceans Day! We know you care because we do care too. Let's think all together how can we make it better because there is still far too much plastic and garbage in the seas. Commit to one thing and tell us in the comments. Need some ideas? Maybe to stop buying plastic bottles? More recycling? Organize a beach clean up? Get a Cora Ball to help remove microplastics from our laundry? Or support your local marine NGO- such as @azraqme? We are all ears! ⁠ *⁠ *⁠ #worldoceansday #oceansday #fortheoceans #marinedebris #noplastic #protecttheoceans #sea #beach #water #ourplanetdaily #earthfocus #earthofficial #oceansdayeveryday #microplastics #turtles #love #fashion #style #sustainablefashion #ecofashion #slowfashion #nostrawsplease #fish #whales #coral #dolphins #commit

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We launched a commitment challenge to our followers on Instagram to care for the oceans. We asked them to tell us one thing they will do to protect the seas. @thermolivingdubai shared that she felt sad to see the number of masks – and we also saw gloves- around the sea. “Humans are definitely the worst virus for our planet”. This brought me back to the air of hope we have these days. COVID locked us down and immediately Nature started to breathe back again. Yet, now we are using disposable masks like crazy. Well, we don’t. We are actually sewing our own cool masks with colors, reversible, washable, and using fabric leftovers. If you want one, just send me a message here.

Fabric Masks-How to solve the macro and microplastics issue

With the previous measures, we would have reduced the amount of plastic we use. But the one we are still getting. What do we do with it? Reuse it as much as possible and when it is time to dispose of it, recycle it. There is a lot of things that you can do with containers before throwing them away. Get creative!

THE MICROPLASTICS

But what happens with all those small mini pieces of plastic. Those are hard to get, sometimes even hard to see, yet they are here blocking our fish and birds’ stomachs. Many are coming from our cosmetics (exfoliation mini particles), and also from our own clothes. Let me explain. Fibers when washed -with the water and the friction- tend to break small particles. If you are using natural fibers, then they will go and biodegradable. But, if the fiber is synthetic, then it will not degrade, it will stay for who knows how long.

According to Wikipedia, “Polyester, nylon, acrylics, and spandex, can be shed from clothing and persist in the environment. Each garment in a load of laundry can shed more than 1,900 fibers of microplastics, with fleeces releasing the highest percentage of fibers, over 170% more than other garments. For an average wash load of 6 kg, over 700,000 fibers could be released per wash.”

When we are talking about recycled water bottles’ clothes (recycled polyester) we need to know that as the fiber has been repurposed, it breaks even more than the standard new polyester. We haven’t been able as yet to find a better use for the huge amounts of plastic on Earth, so we agree with transforming them into clothes. Hopefully, soon technology comes with a more definitive solution. I dream of a plastic eater enzyme.

So with all this taken into account, the amount of microplastics coming from our washing machines needs addressing. Some manufacturers are looking to create filters, some waste management, and water treatment centers are also looking for solutions, but the clogging and cleaning is an issue.

For this, we have a pair of solutions and a recommendation. First, we recommend you only wash your clothes when they really need it. And the two solutions might be:

  1. Get a Cora Ball and add it to your washing routine. This cool pineapple looking object takes the name after the corals. The creator of the Cora Ball is Rachel Zoe Miller, a marine biologist, and researcher. Corals filter their food in the water without stopping the flow of it. What if we get to filter the microplastics using the same system? Of course, it is recycled plastic and can be recycled back again. It has a life span of around 5 years. How does it work? You just tossed it in the washing machine every time you have a new load. Every now and then, and when you see dirt on it, you clean it and back to work. It is not perfect, as it is able to catch around 26% of the total microfibers in the water within the washing machine. If all of us start doing this, at least we are removing one quarter of what otherwise might end up in some whale´s belly. You can get yours here.
  2. Guppyfriend or Guppy bag. It works by you placing the clothes that you think will shed more microfibers in the guppy bag and do your laundry as usual. The thing is that with this system you will get the microplastic of only the clothes within the bag. The Cora Ball will take it from the whole load.

How to solve the macro and micro plastics issue

WHY MICROPLASTICS CAN BE DAMAGING FOR YOU?

You might have heard that we are quite literally eating the equivalent of a credit card per week. Maybe you think that it is fine- I don’t want to judge your gastronomical choices!- but what you are eating is at the end of the day pure chemistry, dyes, petroleum derivatives, monomers, and polymers of different types and colors. They release and alter our fragile health balance, especially in children and the elderly.

So, for your own sake and the whole World´s sake… Lets put a stop on this!

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