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‘Ubiquitous’ microplastic pollution in the Arctic Ocean points to fast fashion

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Why the citizens of the world should care

Plastic pollution is an urgent global threat to the planet. The United Nations calls on all countries to curb plastic production and ensure that existing plastic is cleaned up and recycled. You can join us in taking action on this issue here.

Researchers have found ubiquitous amounts of microplastics, especially polyester fibers, in samples taken from 71 different sites in the Arctic Ocean, according to a study published Tuesday in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

The researchers collected samples in 2016 and then worked to identify the recovered microplastics using infrared spectronomy and other methods. Due to environmental wear and tear, many plastic parts were severely degraded making it difficult to trace them back to a source, but polyester fibers in particular were easier to analyze.

And their abundance indicates fast mode.

Fashion brands have a long history incorporated plastic fibers in t-shirts, sweaters, leggings, hats and more to keep costs down. These fibers can improve the flexibility and comfort of clothes, as well as make them more affordable, but these savings are mainly offset by the environment.

In addition to clothing manufacturers polluting water and air sources and consuming huge amounts of fossil fuels, plastic fiber clothing decomposes quickly and is difficult to recycle. Therefore, they are mainly sent to landfills or incinerators when people try to recycle them

Every time a plastic garment goes through washing and drying cycles, it loses tens of thousands of microplastics in wastewater and through the exhaust.

The average citizen in the United States and Canada releases 533 million plastic microfibers in the environment every year.

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These microplastics are transported in rivers and along air currents, where they contaminate terrestrial and marine ecosystems, putting wildlife at risk. Microplastics have been found in the most remote parts of the planet and permeate the food and water we consume on a daily basis.

The presence of so many microplastics in the Arctic shows the extent of the global contamination. It is not known what effect microplastic pollution has on humans, but it has been shown to cause disease and contribute to death in animals.

The researchers noted that the plastic fibers found in the Arctic came largely from the Atlantic Ocean, either carried by wind or water currents.

The only way to stop microplastic fibers from contaminating the Arctic is for companies to stop relying so much on plastic fibers and for the fashion industry to move away from fast fashion. circular production methods.

In the meantime, ordinary people can do their part by buying less clothes, buying clothes made from organic materials, and washing and drying clothes less frequently.

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