Laundering your fleece jacket pollutes the ocean with tiny fibers that last forever.
Outdoorsy folk aren't pleased to learn that their fleece sweaters are damaging the seas.
Microfibers are tiny, so they can easily move through sewage treatment plants. Natural fibers, such as cotton or wool, biodegrade over time. But synthetic fibers are problematic because they do not biodegrade, and tend to bind with molecules of harmful chemical pollutants found in wastewater, such as pesticides or flame retardants. Plus, fibers from apparel are often coated with chemicals to achieve performance attributes such as water resistance. Studies have shown health problems among plankton and other small organisms that eat microfibers, which then make their way up the food chain. Researchers have found high numbers of fibers inside fish and shellfish sold at markets.
What to do? A pair of beer-buzzed Germans dreamed up a laundry bag, and Patagonia, the synchilla king, will soon sell it at cost.