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Plastic became a huge part in our every day lives. Not only has it changed the way we travel or package, but also how we eat, clean or dress. It is cheap, durable, lightweight and has changed a lot of things fort he better. Even though, the consequences of using plastics have become more and more visible.Synthetic materials are poisoning our oceans and food supply. When we think of the issue, images of plastic bottles bags and bottles come to mind, but synthetic textiles are a even bigger part of the problem.

 
 
 
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FIBER LOSS DURING WASHING

With each wash, countless plastic fibers from synthetic textiles are making their way from washing machines into rivers and oceans. Once in the environment, the microfibers concentrate pervasive bacteria and pollutants. They are consumed by aquatic organisms, which can result in gastrointestinal infections and blockages, reproductive problems, and starvation – problems that ultimately work their way up the food chain.  According to a study from the University of California at Santa Barbara, a city the size of Berlin releases a wash-related volume of microfibers equivalent to approx. 500,000 plastic bags - every single day.

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PLASTIC FIBERS IN THE AIR

Micro waste surrounds us. It’s everywhere. Every day, we inhale abrasion from synthetic textiles, tires, shoe soles, as well as house dust. The toxic substances end up in our bloodstream: A huge health risk that even grows with the expansion of nanotechnology.

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ABRASION OF SOLES AND TIRES

 

A significant part of microplastic in our environment originates from the abrasion of tires and shoe soles. These particles can’t be filtered out. They are in the air and end up in the ocean. Abrasion of shoe soles and tires is causing more than 2.2 lbs (1kg) of plastic particles per year and person (source: Fraunhofer Institute) and are found in the remotest areas of the planet.

 
 
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SINGLE USE PLASTICS

Around 50% of the plastic produced worldwide is used only once and thrown away. This is 150,000,000 tons of plastic waste per year. 411,000 tons every single day! Bags, cutlery, straws, takeaway cups etc. are often only used for minutes, but pollute our environment for decades and even centuries. It’s urgent to avoid single use plastic whenever possible. The rest needs to be collected and recycled. So far, this hasn’t been achieved, as you can easily observe on any given beach or in any city.

 
 
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MICROPLASTICS IN COSMETICS

Microplastic in cosmetics, so-called microbeads are found in countless personal care products: shower gel, soap, sunscreen, moisturizer, etc. We absorb the tiny particles over the skin. They are washed down the drain, get into the ocean and end up in our sushi. First countries start to ban microbeads. 

 
 
 
 

 
 

Copyright: Alfred-Wegener-Institut / Martin Künsting