The simple solution to cutting plastics in our ocean
FOR years plastic bags and water bottles have been a well known culprit to the tons of plastic in our oceans, however scientists have recently identified a lesser known cause.
New research has found that washing clothes was the cause of 85% of the plastic debris along shorelines due to synthetic fibres found mostly in t-shirts.
As clothes containing materials such as polyester, nylon and acrylic, are washed they release microplastics into the ocean, with 700,000 released in one load of washing.
These fibres, measuring 5mm or less, enter the ecosystem and cause devastating internal damage to life exposed to them.
Dr Mark Browne from the University of NSW says that issue of microplastics in the oceans are impossible to remove from the ocean.
"When ingested polymers of this size can cause an inflammatory response, leading to changes in DNA, scar tissue and may leak into internal tissues.
"Given these findings and the fact it's nearly impossible to extract fibres of this size from the ecosystem without impacts it's an issue we need to address for the future of our ecosystem," he says.
To raise awareness of this invisible problem, Bondi Lifeguards, Harrison Reid and Clint Kimmins have teamed up with New Zealand clothing label Icebreaker.
Their goal for Australia and New Zealand is simple: wash your clothes less.
This is due to the high-rate in which Aussies clean clothes, with 49% washing t-shirts after one day of use.
Mr Reid says, "There can be a tendency to consider ocean plastic as a problem for the likes of Indonesia and China. However, we can see microplastics are making their way into our eco-systems across Aussie shores. From the fish in Sydney harbour to our beloved national treasure - The Great Barrier Reef.
"Washing less is one small step we can all take to make a big difference."
Icebreaker's strategy is provide clothing that is naturally odour resistant to reduce the washes that are required to stay clean.
Carla Murphy, icebreaker Chief Brand and Producer Officer says, "As an apparel brand we're mindful of the detrimental impact the clothing industry can have on our environment. We're always looking at ways to improve this and help further reduce our plastic footprint on the world. We believe nature has the answers."