Ocean Clothes Are Still Not The Solution

We need to ditch the idea that we can easily clean up the oceans. We need to fix the problem at the source: preventing plastic from ending up in the ocean in the first place.

Are people who buy trendy clothes made from ocean plastic cleaning up the plastic soup? Or are they just helping greenwash the companies that make and sell these products? More and more brands are presenting ocean plastics as a viable sea clean up solution; they’re not. Ocean clothes actually contribute to the ongoing pollution of our seas!

Synthetic clothes made of polyester, acrylic and nylon, including ocean plastic, shed microfibers during machine washing and drying. Recently, researchers from Plymouth University estimated more than 700,000 fibers for every 6 kilos of laundry while the EU-funded Mermaids project even found higher numbers. These fibers easily enter the environment through the waste water.

So what’s the big deal with all this plastic shedding? Microfibers in water act as magnets for pollutants which then collect in deep-sea organisms, mussels, worms and oysters. A third of the food we eat is contaminated with microfibers!

Most of today’s clothing is synthetic and more people will be using washing machines to wash them in the years to come. It is urgent that real solutions are found to stop the release of plastic microfibers from clothes in washing machines. When we wash a garment that is made of ocean plastic, we return the plastic where it was retrieved, but now in an even smaller and more dangerous microfiber form that easily enters the food chain.

Ocean Clean Wash is the alliance of stakeholders, led by the Plastic Soup Foundation, to find and implement real solutions, even when there is no silver bullet to solve the problem.

Together with Parley for the Oceans, the Ocean Clean Wash campaign will start a worldwide Eco Innovation Challenge on February 14, 2017 in order to attract innovators and bright minds to develop smart solutions focused on the following categories:

  • a washing machine filter to catch plastic fibers
  • synthetic yarns and fabrics that do not release plastic fibers during washing
  • eco-friendly coatings to prevent the release of plastic fibers
  • eco-friendly washing detergents that prevent the shedding of plastic fibers
  • a yet undiscovered innovation.

If you or your organization wants to join this alliance, please do not hesitate to contact us through our website or send an e-mail to info@oceancleanwash.org. We are building a coalition of NGOs, scientists and well-known individuals.