6 Reasons Why It Is
As an outdoorsy girl from Colorado, I’m passionate about our environment and minimizing our impact to it. One issue that I’ve been tracking for quite some time now is the topic of microplastic pollution. It’s a big problem and that’s why I want to spend some time talking about it here, especially in light of Norwex products.
Hard to believe, but tiny little plastic pieces that are less than 5 millimeters in length are a bigger concern to our water pollution problem than larger plastic pieces like buoys, water bottles and plastic toys. In fact, an estimated 94% of the 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is microplastic according to National Geographic.
So, Where Does Microplastic Come From?
Here’s what I can tell you. While research is ongoing, environmental microplastic seems to come from a variety of sources, including:
- Existing, larger plastic pieces, like plastic bags, that break down in the environment over time into smaller and smaller pieces.
- Microbeads from personal care and beauty products that are washed down drains into waterways.
- Textiles, especially synthetic fleece fabrics, that can “shed” tiny fibers called "microfibers" when they're laundered.
Biofuels Digest estimates that as much as 35% of microplastic pollution comes from synthetic clothing during the wash cycle. And most of this microplastic comes from clothes made of acrylic, nylon and polyester, with more loosely woven items shedding the most, according to one study.
A Question I Get Asked Sometimes Is, "Does Norwex Microfiber Shed?"
The fact that I even get asked this question makes my heart happy because it means that people are becoming more educated about the topic and the impact of microplastics on our environment.
So here's the short answer…because Norwex Microfiber is made from polyester and polyamide (both synthetic materials), any breakdown of these materials in the wash can cause it to shed.
When I first started learning more about this topic, I wanted to find out just how much our Norwex Microfiber shed. And here's some good news! Because Norwex Microfiber is so tightly woven it actually sheds very little.
In fact, testing shows that after 200 washings an EnviroCloth® loses only .026 of an ounce. That’s less than the size of a plain M&M (or so I'm told)!
When compared with the weight of the plastic packaging of most typical cleaning products, Norwex Microfiber is a much more sustainable option.
Here's why I believe that Norwex still offers a better choice.
Even with minimal shedding, cleaning with Norwex Microfiber and water helps avoid some of the main environmental and health concerns that come with traditional cleaning methods. Just to name a few:
Sadly, more chemical pesticides are used for traditionally grown cotton than any other crop. This not only pollutes the fibers themselves but also the groundwater runoff, streams, rivers, lakes and oceans that these chemicals wash into.
Because of our paper towel usage in North America, over 50,000 trees are cut down daily and that contributes to an estimated 3,000 tons of waste a day. To make matters worse, the pulp and paper industry is the largest industrial user of water, and typical paper towels are manufactured using chlorine, which is a known toxin.
These are also known as wet wipes and often contain chemicals that can cause skin reactions, headaches, and eye and throat irritation. These one-use wipes are also very slow to break down, and even “flushable” wipes can linger for years in sewers and oceans.
Chemical cleaners used with cotton and paper towels:
Unfortunately, harmful chemicals in traditional cleaning products impact health and pollute indoor and outdoor environments. Not to mention paper towels, which waste precious resources and overburden landfills.
- Quantifying shedding of synthetic fibers from textiles; a source of microplastics released into the environment | SpringerLink
- What are microplastics?
- An Update on the Gyres: Is There Hope for the World’s Oceans? | Norwex Movement
- Great Pacific Garbage Patch Is Bigger and Mostly Made of Fishing Gear
- Release of synthetic microplastic plastic fibres from domestic washing machines: Effects of fabric type and washing conditions - ScienceDirect
- The U.K. Has Banned Microbeads. Why? - The New York Times
- Synthetic fibers an overlooked source of microplastic pollution | Nuu
- Why Organically Grown Cotton May Be Right for You | Norwex Movement
- The 12 Most Astonishing Things that Harm Sea Turtles | Norwex Movement
- Wash Your Hands OF (not with) Paper Towels! | Norwex Movement
- Wet Wipes: Seeking a Safer Alternative | Norwex Movement
- Is Your Cleaning Spray Making You Sick? | Norwex Movement
- Cotton Pesticides Statistics - Cotton Chemiclas - The World Counts
- OECD iLibrary | OECD Environmental Outlook to 2030 | pg. 218
- How much does an M and M weigh?