So you can file this one under “No Good News.” When you think of ahimsa—non-harming—it’s not usually your yoga pants you’re worried about. But now a new study is telling us that our cozy stretch pants are actually doing more harm to the planet than good.
The problem? Microscopic plastics that shed from your yoga pants into the water every time you wash them. Those tiny bits of plastic (even smaller than microbeads, which were banned in 2015) make their way into the water supply, sewer systems and eventually our natural bodies of water threatening all the fish and marine life. And when the water and marine life are polluted, we’ll all pay the price.
The two-year study led by the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium found that these microfibers are popping up in waters from south Texas to the Florida keys (and likely a lot of other places — this is just where they tested).
Synthetic materials often found in yoga pants and other athletic/athleisure items are to blame. “Anything that’s nylon or polyester, like the fleece-type jackets,” University of Florida researcher Maia McGuire said.
Via Associated Press.
Studies of the Great Lakes and New York Harbor and its surrounding waterways found high concentrations of plastics pollution, including microbeads. McGuire’s data from Florida waters, compiled from 1-liter samples run through filters fine enough to catch microfibers missed by the trawls used in the larger studies, adds to the growing amount of research focused on plastic pieces that degrade but never really disappear.
Other recent studies have shown that microfibers can end up in the stomachs of marine animals, including seafood, like oysters.
So how do we stop it? Do we have to stop wearing our beloved yoga pants?? Well, no. For one, you can try and buy clothes made from natural materials like cotton and bamboo.
Scientists are also trying to get the makers of washing machines on board.
“It would be really great if the washing machine companies would get on board and come up with a filter to trap these microfibers,” Caitlin Wessel, regional coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Debris Program said.
That would be really great. Until that happens, we can do our best to make conscious consumer choices like buying clothing made from natural materials…and/or never washing our clothes ever again.
(By the way, this has to make you think how these materials are affecting us as we wear them, no?)