Celebrate Plastic Free July With Passion Lilie

Gloved hands holding microplastics

You’re a conscious consumer, well aware that plastic is all around us. You try to minimize the grocery bags you use by bringing reusable totes (when you can remember them). Instead of using disposable water bottles, you’ve got a water bottle that’s your entire personality. By now, we all know how bad plastic is for the environment, and we’re doing our best to reduce it where we can. But did you know that some of the sneakiest plastics are hidden in your closet? This Plastic Free July, we’re spreading the word: Fast fashion clothing relies heavily on synthetic fabrics like polyester, nylon, and acrylic – all derived from fossil fuels. This not only contributes to climate change but creates an enormous microplastics problem.

The Problem with Microplastics

Every time you wash synthetic, fast fashion clothing, tiny plastic fibers called microplastics shed from the fabric. They’re too small to be caught by washing machines and filters, so they end up in our water systems. According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, “Researchers estimate that 10 million metric tons of plastic waste and microplastics - tiny plastic fragments smaller than five millimeters in size - enter the oceans each year and project that the total amount of plastic waste circulating the world's oceans will be 150 million tons by 2025.”

But what’s so bad about these itty bitty plastics? The negative impacts of microplastics disproportionately harm fishing communities and islands, where they collect on shores and damage aesthetics, fisheries, and water quality. They directly impact humans when they’re ingested by marine life like oysters, mussels, and small fish, and then consumed by us. At every stage of their life cycle, plastics and microplastics can cause disease, disability, and contribute to premature death. 

Toxic chemicals are often added to plastics, further exacerbating their damaging effects. They result in endocrine malfunction, premature birth, obesity, infertility, cancer, and more. The danger of microplastics to human and environmental health are why we celebrate Plastic Free July and try to reduce our plastic use every day of the year.

A microscope shows microplasticsThe Fast Fashion Cycle

Fast fashion is known for cheap clothes and a quick trend cycle. Fast fashion companies churn out clothing using the least expensive materials (and labor) possible. As a result, almost 70% of the materials used in fast fashion clothes are synthetics like acrylic, nylon, and polyester. These fabrics are not biodegradable, and they shed plastics while being washed and even worn. Because these garments are made with low-quality materials, they’re often discarded quickly, adding to landfill textile waste. Once deposited in the landfill, fast fashion clothing releases harmful chemicals and microplastics into the earth and waterways for years to come. During Plastic Free July, you can make a conscious effort to avoid fast fashion clothing by choosing to avoid buying new clothes altogether or by shopping sustainably instead.

Reducing Microplastics Through Sustainable Fashion

It’s not all bad news when it comes to fashion and microplastics. In fact, the microplastic crisis is relatively new because of the rise in fast fashion clothing. In the past, people wore natural fabrics like wool and leather. Sustainable brands like Passion Lilie prioritize natural fabrics, ethical production, eco-friendly materials, and timeless designs. Here’s how sustainable brands are tackling the microplastic problem: 

  • Natural fabrics: Organic cotton (Passion Lilie’s fabric of choice), linen, modal, and hemp are excellent alternatives to synthetic fabrics. They’re biodegradable, require less water to produce, and are gentler on your skin.
  • Recycled materials: Many brands are giving new life to things like plastic bottles, fishing nets, and other waste to create innovative and stylish fabrics. If you want to learn more about how sustainable brands continue to innovate, check out this blog post.
  • Quality over quantity: Sustainable brands focus on well-made, timeless pieces that last longer, reducing waste and the need to buy new clothes constantly.

Two women with arms full of clothingYou Can Make a Difference

This Plastic Free July, commit to making small changes that have a big impact. Here are some ideas for ways to be a more conscious consumer:

  • Support sustainable brands: Do your research and invest in high-quality clothing from brands like Passion Lilie that are committed to ethical and eco-friendly practices. You can usually find all the data you need to make an informed decision on a company’s website, but always feel free to ask questions and hold brands accountable.
  • Shop secondhand: Thrift stores and vintage shops are treasure troves for unique finds, and your new-to-you clothes won’t add to plastic waste.
  • Wash wisely: Use cold water and gentle detergents for your clothes, and air dry them whenever possible. Consider using a GUPPYFRIEND washing bag or something similar to filter microplastics before they pollute water.
  • Give your clothes a second life: Use basic sewing skills to repair or upcycle old clothes. Once they’re no longer wearable, cut them into rags and use them to replace paper towels!

We’d love to hear your ideas for recognizing Plastic Free July. Please let us know what you’re doing to reduce microplastics in the comments below!


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