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17th Mar 2017

Marine-life crisis: How our love of leggings is killing the planet

Gillian Fitzpatrick

You’d be hard-pressed to find an Irish gal who doesn’t love her leggings.

But it seems it’s an obsession that may have lasting consequences: namely that it’s seriously harming our planet.

Cheap, comfortable clothing – including leggings, gym gear, and fleece jackets – result in tonnes of shreds of plastic in our oceans and seas.

That’s the warning from US researchers in Florida, who add that mirco-fibres from clothing are smaller and more damaging than the cosmetic industry’s much-criticised micro-beads.

“Garments made from synthetic materials shed microscopic plastic fibres – called “microfibres” – when they’re laundered. Wastewater systems flush the microfibers into natural waterways, eventually reaching the sea,” reports the New York Post.

And it seems that, as stated by the University Of Florida, “anything that’s nylon or polyester,” is at fault.

There is also significant evidence that these fibres are ingested by fish – which in turn means that they enter the food chain.

“The effects of microfibers in the food chain remain under investigation, but the emerging data has prompted clothing company Patagonia — which makes fleece jackets and other apparel from synthetic materials — to support research into the prevalence of microfiber pollution and promote information for consumers about ways to minimise microfiber shedding in laundry,” adds the New York Post.

Caitlin Wessel of the National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration added: “It would be really great if the washing machine companies would get on board and come up with a filter to trap these microfibers.

“I think there’s a big push right now.”

As for what we should all be on alert for: look at your tags: Something that is 100 percent cotton is good. But a mix of things, is not.