For my organizational behavior class, I am always on the lookout for examples of real life systems that illustrate the interconnectedness of seemingly unrelated things. I recently found an example that relates the growing popularity of leisure clothes to an increase in marine debris and pollution.
"Yoga pants, fleece jackets, sweat-wicking athletic wear and other garments made from synthetic materials shed microscopic plastic fibers -- called microfibers -- when laundered. Wastewater systems flush the microfibers into natural waterways, eventually reaching the sea," reports University of Florida researcher Maia McGuire.
There are many efforts underway to address this complex system, including work with washing machine manufacturers to enhance filters and impressive work by clothing manufacturer Patagonia to provide outreach to consumers and additional research to minimize the impact.
You don't always make the connection between what you wear and what sea animals eat, but the link is there. Think about how you can play a responsible role in the ecosystem.
Source: Cozy clothes may be a key source of sea pollution by Jennifer Kay for the Associated Press, March 19, 2017 in the Telegraph Herald.