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How Polyester Contributes To Microplastic Pollution

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Polyester is one of the most commonly used materials in the fashion industry, known for its durability and low cost. It’s also a synthetic material made from petroleum, which means it will pretty much never disappear, it’s not biodegradable and can take hundreds of years to decompose. But that’s not the only issue with polyester – it’s also a significant contributor to the microplastic pollution in our oceans.

Microplastics are tiny plastic particles that can be found in our waterways and oceans, where they can be ingested by marine life and eventually make their way up the food chain to humans. A study by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation found that the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or burned every second, and if nothing changes, the fashion industry could be responsible for 25% of the world’s carbon budget by 2050.

Company’s claim that they use recycled polyester, which is made from PET (recycled plastic bottles), and therefore has a lower environmental impact than virgin polyester. While it’s true that recycled polyester uses less energy and resources than virgin polyester, it’s still not a sustainable solution. The process of recycling plastic bottles into polyester still requires energy, chemicals, and water, and the resulting material is not biodegradable. Additionally, recycled polyester will still shed microfibers just like virgin polyester, contributing to microplastic pollution.

So why do “eco-friendly” brands continue to use polyester and recycled plastic bottles? One reason is that it’s cheaper than many sustainable alternatives. Natural materials like organic cotton, hemp, and linen are more expensive and require more resources to produce, making them less profitable for companies.

Another reason is that the fashion industry has created a culture of fast fashion, where consumers expect low-priced, trendy clothing that they can wear a few times and then discard. Companies are incentivised to produce cheap, disposable clothing, and synthetic materials like polyester fit the bill perfectly.

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