This week before I set off for my interesting inspection, I continued my environmental theme for the children in Prep with my focus on how to reduce plastic in the bedroom.
For many children the most obvious source of plastic will be the variety of games and toys made of plastic that they have In their bedrooms. And of course the ones made of plastic will give both pleasure and opportunities to learn despite the fact that the material from which they are made will not break down for 1000 years. So all of us in choosing and selecting toys in the future must give thought to the materials from which they are made as well as their educational or play value.
Alongside this of course could be consideration of acquiring toys secondhand from charity shops, family and friends and indeed passing on, as routine, unwanted toys for rainy day boxes at school or charity shops or perhaps by holding a garage sale of your own for a favourite charity.
My greatest surprise however has been in discovering the prevalence of plastic in our clothes as of course all synthetic materials are indeed a form of plastic. Nylon, acrylic, polyester; all easy to wear and easy to wash clothing but there is a cost to the planet in these clothes that we are only just beginning to explore.
It is suggested that as a result of one wash 17 million tiny fibres of synthetic material are released into the water systems and our water treatment facilities do not have filters small enough to trap such particles. They have been found in mussels, water, in the sand on our beaches and in the air and we do not know yet what will happen to our digestive system now that we routinely eat these fibres.
Practical things that each of us can do are as follows:
- Fill the washing machine and do not run it half full
- Wear clothes for longer before you wash them
- Always wash at low temperatures
- Reduce spin speeds
- Buy natural products, when shopping for clothes and if not finding natural products talk to the shop manager and let them know that you will be leaving without making a purchase because of this
- Buy and wear second hand clothes.
- Free yourself from the fashion mentality that requires us to buy more and more clothes
I have purchased something that I did not know existed this week to help prevent the fibres getting into the water stream in my house. It’s called a Guppy bag and is a large mesh bag with a very fine material into which I shall place my synthetic clothes and from which I look forward to extracting fibres which make their way to the seams of the bag after every wash. I shall experiment with keeping them in a jar to see how many I get!
Do join me in this endeavour if you fancy a challenge!
It is likely that the fibres in our oceans soak up dangerous chemicals and therefore provide them in a more concentrated format, thus when ingested they become part of our food chain and present risk to our livers and kidneys and nervous system.
I very much hope that some of our pupils at St Michael’s today will go on to be the scientists that keep this topic on the agenda and explore the impact, or that they will become textile scientists to investigate more environmentally friendly materials.
You might find this nine minute video, part of which I shared with the children, an interesting point for discussion in your house this weekend https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41adXNYDgeE