Microfibers, Macro Problems

By Layla Cummings

Plastic pollution in the marine environment is a well-known issue. However a subset of this larger issue, microfiber pollution, receives little attention and is unknown to a large percent of the population. When synthetic clothing materials made from plastic are washed, there is no method to filter them through the washing machine or at the wastewater treatment plant. These small, often microscopic fibers enter the aquatic environment in large numbers. Fish and other creatures eat these fibers, which causes the entire food chain to become contaminated. Eventually, these tiny plastic fibers end up in food that humans consume. My thesis is an awareness campaign to inform the public about this issue through an informational video and website. My goal is to take this complex issue and present it in an easy to understand format. There is not a quick fix solution to microfiber pollution, but I will present several ways in which the problem can be managed and eventually phased out. Open discussion and public awareness is the only way to make progress in this overlooked area of pollution.

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