Many of us are well aware of the environmental challenge faced because of the proliferation of plastics. Since plastic does not decompose naturally, most of it remains in our environment. Only 12% has been incinerated and only 9% has been recycled. A great deal of plastic ends up in the ocean and other bodies of water. Much of it breaks down into small particles – microplastics – which are now ubiquitous in the oceans. There are also microplastics that started out that way in the form of little beads used in the cosmetics industry. Studies have found microplastics in the bodies of 73% of fish from the North Atlantic.
Clean and abundant water is the most essential need for all human societies and the supply of it is threatened by increasing populations and volatile climate patterns. The quality of water is threatened by a host of contaminants, most of our own making.
We’ve discussed the problem of microplastics polluting our oceans at great lengths on this program before. Much of the small plastic particles result from the breakdown of plastic litter, such as plastic bags, packaging, and other materials. Another source is microbeads, which are often found in health products such as face scrubs and even some toothpastes. But there is a another source of microplastic pollution that is quite troubling: dirty laundry.