When it comes to microplastics, it appears the issue really does come out in the wash.
Recent research (undertaken by Scion, the University of Canterbury, Auckland Council and Watercare, and funded by the Ministry for the Environment and Packaging New Zealand) has shown the tiny fibres released when washing our clothes are causing the single biggest microplastic pollution in Auckland's waterways.
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Globally, it's estimated eight million tonnes of plastics now enter the sea each year. The United Nations has likened the impacts of microplastic pollution to the issues of climate change.
While microbeads in body washes have been one of the most recent demons spotlighted, there has been increasing global research into the impact of synthetic fabrics in waterways.
Among other things, recent US and UK research has found synthetic fleece jackets - which can be made from polyester, recycled plastic bottles and petroleum - release 1.7g of microfibres each wash - and older jackets shed almost twice as many fibres as new ones. Top-loading washing machines apparently release about seven times more than front-loaders. And, seemingly counter-intuitively, washing clothes on a delicate cycle apparently releases far more microfibres.
The NZ researchers say their latest findings reveal the scale of the problem here - and it mirrors elsewhere.
The researchers found 88 per cent of the microparticles were fibres, the majority of them the common plastics polyethylene, polyethylene terephthalate and polypropylene - and said the washing of clothing and textiles was the likely cause.
It is a material blow, particularly for those manufacturers and consumers thinking they are doing right by the environment in finding ways to support the reuse of plastic in clothing.
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The findings will likely also present a poser for staunch vegans avoiding animal products such as wool or leather.
And, given synthetic clothing such as polyester, lycra, and nylon is often far cheaper and more accessible than natural cotton and wool, any major changes to clothing manufacturing and retailing as a result could mean yet another cost likely felt more by those less able to bear it.
But given these plastic particles are ending up in landfills, washing into waterways, and entering the food chain where they have been linked with all sorts of adverse health effects, it is a problem for us all.
The NZ researchers suggested various solutions: Most obviously reducing the use of plastics in clothing, introducing alternatives such as marine-degradable plastics, or removing the microparticles before they enter the water - through better filters in washing machines and wastewater treatment plants.
In the meantime, as individuals, if we are able to, we can invest in clothing and textiles made from natural fibres. We could also wash our clothes less frequently, if possible. Natural fibres wear well and can smell fresher for longer. Plus, we'd not only be preventing more microplastics entering our waterways, we'd be reducing our water consumption and saving on washing powder and electricity, too.
It's time to turn the tide on what's washing out of our clothes and what's washing up on our beaches and plates. It's certainly long past the time when we can plead ignorance about a major pollutant all of our own making.