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Goodbye Fluffy Fleece Robe

Posted Jan 10 2012 2:17pm
Goodbye Fluffy Fleece Robe (and other
polyester products).

Recently (on Black Friday) Patagonia took out a full page ad in the New York Times that said  “Do not buy this jacket.”  and it was their own fleece jacket, the R2® Jacket.  Patagonia is taking this  amazing action for two reasons. One is because the manufacture and transport of this jacket  uses enough water to furnish 45 people their daily water.  It also produces 24 times its weight in carbon dioxide.  The second is because of new data about fleece items releasing microparticles  of polyester into the environment.  Patagonia's philosophy is that this product is not sustainable.

According to the November Environmental Science and Technology , every time a fleece product, like a jacket, is washed, up to 2,000 tiny particles of the fleece are released into the water and can make their way to the ocean. Ecologists sampled 18 beaches on 6 continents and found polyester particles on every beach.

The problem is that these tiny plastic particles sink to the bottom of the ocean where they enter the food chain.  They are consumed by filter feeders or tiny creatures who are eaten by the next level and so on until it ends up in the predators at the top of the food chain (could be us humans).  No one is certain what this means but once the microparticles are in the ocean, they are impossible to remove.  They must degrade which can take a really long time and then they may leave chemicals like BPA in the environment. There is evidence that microparticles of plastic attract oily toxins like a magnet and these also can bioaccumulate into the food chain.
You may not think of polyester fleece as being plastic but it is . It is made from crude oil and natural gas and it take decades to decompose.  Even though it can be soft and pliable, it is still plastic.  Some companies have made fleece from recycled plastic bottles which, at one time seemed like the green thing to do.  With this new information, it obviously better to avoid polyester.  Use products made of sustainable natural sources like silk, cotton, wool, linen, bamboo, and hemp.  They are biodegradable.

Hello Cotton Terry Robe
Patagonia is to be admired for their forward thinking.  They want you to buy their products AND they want a clean environment for future generations.  "We ask you to buy less and to reflect before you spend a dime on this jacket or anything else," the company says.  How refreshing to hear a manufacturing company say this.  I really respect Patagonia.  Three cheers to them!

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