Dear Mother Earth:

I understand now that recycling plastic has been a failed experiment around the world. The oil industry needs to continue to create markets for their product, and plastics is their future. We consumers were duped into thinking our plastic products would be reused to make new products, but that has not happened. Now we need to resist these products and simply refuse to purchase plastic goods or packaging. For me, this has meant giving up products I used to buy, such as potato chips (I fry my own potatoes when I get a craving), hummus (I make my own at a fraction of the cost), frozen foods in plastic bags (I look for an alternative in a box or fresh), and yogurt (I buy White Mountain yogurt in a glass jar or make my own). My question now is about clothing. What is the content of plastic in our clothing and what are the concerns? What are the best fabrics to buy? Does clothing pollute the environment, as well?

— Seeking the Naked Truth

Dear Naked Truth,

Yes, I’m sorry to report, but modern-day clothing is also polluting our gorgeous planet. A 2017 report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature indicated 35% of the plastic pollution in the ocean comes from synthetic textile fibers. These fibers are very small microplastics that are not readily visible to the human eye, but they have been found everywhere on Planet Earth, including in the Arctic, on the top of Mount Everest, in beach sand and in the deepest parts of the ocean. These textile fibers enter the waterways primarily when we wash our clothes, but they also fall off clothes throughout the day while being worn by humans. It is estimated a single washing of a synthetic fleece jacket releases one million plastic fibers into the water system. Unfortunately, most water treatment facilities do not filter out microplastics, so they are released back into our drinking water, waterways and oceans. From there, we know what happens — the fibers end up ingested into the bodies of humans, land wildlife and marine animals. (Just this past fall, hunters were warned not to eat the deer from a certain county in Maine because of high levels of PFOAs in the deer’s bodies!) So what is the solution to the synthetic clothing problem? Refuse to buy new synthetic garments (e.g., polyester, acrylic, nylon), buy less clothing overall, wash your clothing less frequently, and look for used clothing. All clothing manufacturing takes a toll on the planet, even natural fibers, a result of the water needed for production and the energy consumed. So buy less and avoid synthetics at all costs.

Our Earth is being poisoned by plastic and humans must take action against the plastics industry. Just refuse to purchase plastic! We can do this together.

— Mother Earth

Questions and comments should be directed to Lily French at her email lilyfrench83@gmail.com

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