Microfibers in our Oceans
Major players in the fashion industries such as Adidas, H&M, and Timberland have committed to increasing their use of recycled polyester by at least 25% by 2020. While this will have undeniable benefits for the environment including bottles diverted from landfills, a decrease in energy demand and reduced CO2 production, this "solution" can not be labeled as sustainable.
Most people would agree that recycling single use plastics, like bottles, into clothing is a step in the right direction in the fight against the continued pollution of our environment. Unfortunately, producing clothes using polyester, recycled or otherwise, along with other synthetic fibres is actually the cause of another pollution problem known as microfibre pollution.
A microfibre is a tiny fragment of the plastics used to make synthetic fabrics and do not actually become an issue until the clothing undergoes a washing cycle, during which the fibres are shed from the fibres. The fibres are too small to be entirely filtered in wastewater treatment plants and instead are released into oceans in startlingly large quantities. It is estimated that anywhere from 0.6 - 1.7 million tons of microfibres pollute our oceans every year. With 60% of fabrics produced in 2014 being polyester alone and given that polyester is the fastest growing fabric in the world, microfibre pollution is an increasingly worsening problem.
The pressure should be on producers to find a solution, perhaps through a different manufacturing process that eliminates or at least reduces the release of microfibres. Until that solution has been developed, we will continue to advocate for the increased use of natural fibres.
Because of environmental issues caused by the fashion industry like microfibre pollution, we will never sacrifice environmental impact for saving costs on our clothes' production. Gunda Hafner Ltd pledges to use as little plastic and synthetic materials as possible. We make sure that we know the material breakdown for any fabrics we use and always go the extra mile to ensure the highest quality natural fibres are used with as low a percentage of synthetic fibres as possible. Our "fur" used in our AW17/18 collection, for example, was a non-synthetic fur substitute consisting of 82% wool. Cotton is our material of choice for most clothing due to its breathability and low allergenicity. We also try to almost never use plastic fastenings, although it is difficult at the moment since material manufacturers are not yet as eco-conscious as our brand.
This video explains the problem that microfibres present for our oceans' and our own health.