California may become home to a new progressive legislature targeting plastic microfibers. State Assemblymember Richard Bloom has introduced a new bill that would require all clothing containing more than 50 percent synthetic fabric to have a label clearly warning of plastic microfiber shedding.

According to the author of the bill AB 2379, the issue of microfibers entering the oceans cannot wait any longer. “Plastic microfibers are making their way from washing machines into our seafood and even into the water we drink,” Bloom emphasized.

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The shedding of plastic microfibers may seem like a small problem, but it is, in fact, one of the major issues when it comes to different types of plastic pollution. Microfibers are dangerous especially because of the sheer amount of those tiny pieces of plastic which enter the waterways every day. It is estimated that one article of polyester clothing sheds up to 1,900 microfibers per wash – and the problem gets even worse as the clothes age and shed more fibers. To prevent this, some startups have created innovative gadgets designed to catch plastic fibers inside the washing machine but such items are not yet widely used.

It is the size of microfibers that makes them get into waterways so easily – once they are shed in the wash, they cannot be trapped by water treatment facilities. When they get into the waterways, microfibers pollute the environment, become ingested by marine animals, and even get into our tap water. What goes around, comes around.

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Bloom’s legislation aims to recognize the threat of microfibers, provide the public with information in the case, and reduce the number of fibers entering the environment. According to the bill, all clothing that is more than 50 percent polyester would need a label stating “This garment sheds plastic microfibers when washed. Hand washing recommended.” Unless properly labeled, no clothing that is more than 50 percent polyester could be sold on or after January 1, 2020.

“We banned plastic microbeads because of the pollution they cause. Microfibers account for almost twenty times more pollution than microbeads, it’s a crisis,” said Stiv Wilson, campaigns director for The Story of Stuff. “What’s at issue is that because of their size, microfibers are bioavailable to even the smallest creatures in the food chain and if they don’t survive, nothing will.”

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In 2015, Bloom wrote the state ban on plastic microbeads. It was passed into federal law by President Obama the following year.

To find out what you can do to help the planet by making conscious choices about your plastic usage, check out One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic campaign!

Image source: stevepb/Pixabay