The sea we love and the air we breathe; how far will discarded plastic ocean waste spread?
Plastic pollution is an ongoing, grim battle that our environment faces. With its ominous effects, the large amounts of plastic disposed of in the sea causes great harm that goes beyond what the eye can see. If the threat plastic posed to marine life wasn't bad enough, we're only now discovering how hazardous ocean waste is for our own livelihoods.
A new study from Communications Biology has found plastic emits chemicals into the sea that distort the process of natural bacteria that contributes greatly to the health of our oceans and environment.
"We found that exposure to chemicals leaching from plastic pollution interfered with the growth, photosynthesis and oxygen production of Prochlorococcus, the ocean's most abundant photosynthetic bacteria," says study author Dr Sasha Tetu in a Macquarie University press release.
This bacteria is called Prochlorococcus and it accounts for the production of 10% of the air we breathe. If these holy grail bacteria continue to be wiped out, not only will our oceans suffer, but the impact it will have on the air we breathe will become very real too.
So, you might be wondering what Prochlorococcus has to do with fashion and why we, a fashion label, are addressing it? While an estimated 1.5 million pounds of discarded plastic enters our ocean every single hour, what's less apparent is the number of synthetic fibres (yes, your polyester shirt is made from the same thing as a plastic bag) entering our waterways through washing machines daily. Or the clothes and accessories that enter landfill only to find themselves floating off in the Pacific Ocean not too long after. The gloomy prediction that in 2050 there will be more plastic in the sea than fish begs the question; what can we do to positively contribute to environmental change?
Aside from the obvious 'use your reusable coffee cup & shopping bag' lecture, here are a few little things that are super actionable and easy to incorporate into your life today:
Shop slowly. By that, we mean take your time before making a fashion purchase (particularly if you know it's a synthetic item).
Wash your clothes less frequently, or use something like the Guppyfriend to wash your synthetic clothes in.
Shop second hand or recycled. This really speaks for itself, but making the most of the resources we already have is always the best way to decrease the demand for more.
Demand more environmental transparency from large brands and their supply chain.
By collecting plastic waste from our oceans and regenerating it into a high-quality nylon6, used to make our swimsuits, designed to be worn in multiple ways and last for years to come, our swimsuits are literally cleaning the ocean with every woman who wears one.
Baiia Woman, Vivien from The Dharma Trails collecting plastic pollution from the coastlines of Grenada in her Banksia and Tanami Wrapsuit. Follow her and Aaron as they travel the world lightly on IG: @thedharmatrails
We also consider how our swimsuits are protected in our studio by using home compostable bags whenever protective polybags bags are needed. Our swimsuits are also posted in home compostable satchels or recycled paper parcels, and our swing tags are made from recycled and deadstock materials. You can find out more here.
In heart of Ocean Day, this article introduces us to the bigger picture; and hopefully some self-reflection in preserving the ocean for its natural existence and respecting its contribution to ALL life on earth. This day of recognition encourages communities to come together, connect and pave way for a positive environmental future: one in which our oceans are healthy and our oxygen is not threatened.
Relevant supporting articles: