Good Juju x Triarchy – Taking on the Microplastics Problem in Fashion!

Plastic Free July is here! This month is an important opportunity for brands and individuals to raise awareness and educate ourselves on the negative effects that plastics have on the health of both our planet, and our bodies. More than ever, it’s time we stopped to reflect on our relationship to plastics, and seek out ways to drastically limit our use of it.

This year, Good Juju is focusing on the issue of Microplastics in Fashion, and we’ve teamed up with an amazing sustainable denim brand, Triarchy, to do it. We’ve collaborated with Triarchy to create a limited-edition Laundry Detergent Eco-Strip packet, available only for the month of July, with all proceeds from the sales of these packets will go directly to Fashion Revolution, the world's largest fashion activism movement. More on that here.

What are Microplastics?

Microplastics have created a buzz in the media – and anyone paying attention knows that’s not a good thing.

As the name implies, microplastics are very small plastics that come in all shapes and sizes, defined by measurements of less than <5mm in diameter.

Microplastics come pre-formed through commercial product development and are also created by the breakdown of larger plastics.

Primary microplastics are manufactured in a small form – for cosmetic use and for textiles like clothing and fishing nets.

Secondary microplastics result from the breakdown of larger plastic materials like product packaging (e.g., water bottles) after they are discarded, by UV exposure or wear and tear in the ocean.

Regardless of type, microplastics have been found everywhere – in the ocean, soil and in animals and human bodies, and their impact on ecosystems and effects on animal and human health is yet to be fully understood. What is scary – is that they aren’t going anywhere – and continue to be produced!

Fast Fashion

Fashion’s Dirty Secret

One of the major contributors of microplastics in the environment is the fashion industry – especially “fast” fashion.

Fast fashion has a high production and turnover rate, relying on cheap materials to keep up with consumer demand for fashionable, cheap clothes. Synthetic materials – primarily polyester, a by-product of the petroleum industry – make up the bulk of cheaply made, trendy clothing that is often discarded after styles fade, or because it falls apart due to low quality.

At this point these garments end up in landfills where they can sit for up to 200 years – slowing breaking down and releasing their plastic fibres into ecosystems.

Microplastics can also make their way into our environment through everyday laundering. When garments made with plastic-based synthetic fibres are washed – they shed tiny plastic particles that find their way into water systems. In fact, laundry alone accounts for half a million tonnes of plastic microfibers released into the ocean each year!9

Microplastics in Water Supplies and Ecosystems

Once microplastics enter a water system, whether freshwater or oceanic, they can be distributed far and wide – all around the globe. Here, they leach out chemicals into waterways, absorb and concentrate other pollutants in the water and are often consumed by wildlife.

“The small size of microplastics results in their uptake by a wide range of aquatic species disturbing their physiological functions, which then go through the food web creating adverse health issues in humans.”3

Microplastics can also easily enter drinking water supply sources, especially from terrestrial run off (landfills) and wastewater. The World Health Organization reported in 2019 that microplastics are “ubiquitous in the environment and have been detected in a broad range of concentrations in marine water, wastewater, fresh water, food, air and drinking-water, both bottled and tap water.”8

Microplastics And Human Health

With microplastics present in the water, soil, and air, it’s inevitable that they end up in the bodies of animals – and humans.

Awareness about exposure to microplastics is relatively recent, and researchers are still determining the impacts they could have on human health, but preliminary studies have suggested impacts such as “provoking immune and stress responses and inducing reproductive and developmental toxicity”1

What is also of great concern, is that as plastics continue to break down into smaller particles (nanoplastics) they eventually become small enough to cross through biological barrier, including cell membranes where they can enter the bloodstream and be distributed throughout the body. While it isn’t conclusive what this means for human health, studies have linked nanoplastics found in fish brain tissue to behavioural issues.6

How Microplastics Disproportional Affect Poorer Nations

Some environments and people are more vulnerable to the detrimental effects of microplastics than others. While the plastic problem can be “out of sight, out of mind” in wealthier countries, developing countries lack the infrastructure and resources to manage plastics.

Plastics often come from products made in wealthier, industrialized nations – who also frequently dump their plastic waste in these countries and operate fast fashion manufacturing factories there.  Without the technology and facilities to manage plastics, many populations are forced to live in close proximity to plastic waste, not to mention the effects of the chemicals used in clothing production,

A 2019 report indicated that every 30 seconds, 30 double-decker busloads of plastic waste are burned or dumped in developing countries.7

When burned, or disposed of improperly, plastic residue is expedited into the atmosphere and waterways, disrupting ecosystems, and are consumed by animals and humans, and people are susceptible to illness and even death from plastic pollutions.7

There are also economic consequences, “the presence of plastics in the aquatic environment… adversely affects the socio-economic facets of tourism industry, shipping, trawling, and fish farming” of already vulnerable, affected countries.3

Good Juju x Triarchy Denim

We’re committed to making a change for good with the planet’s plastic problem – and for us, this starts with not generating more plastic in the first place!

We have connected with Triarchy – makers of the first stretch denim free of microplastics – to promote awareness and actionable change in the fashion industry. They share our commitment to eliminating plastics in their products – and practicing eco-friendly methods in all their manufacturing and shipping—making them the perfect fit!

Jeans with stretch have always been made with some percentage of plastic woven into the fabric, to make it stretchy. But Triarchy uses naturally sourced rubber, making stretch cotton denim that can biodegrade in a year vs. up to 200 years for conventional denim.

Together – we’re seeking to raise awareness about microplastics in fashion – as brands that operate to ensure that no plastic ends up in landfills, waterways – or human bodies!

Good Juju x Triarchy Laundry Detergent Eco-Strips are a product of purpose, providing consumers with a superior laundry alternative that directly supports ecological and social consciousness in fashion.

700 million plastic laundry detergent jugs are sent to landfills in North America each year.

Good Juju’s innovative laundry strip formula is super-concentrated, containing no water and requiring no plastic bottle. Each 36-strip envelope prevents one 1-litre plastic jug from entering the landfill, and results in a 94% reduction in transport-related greenhouse gas emissions, compared to liquid alternatives.

With each sale of this special edition package, 100% of the net sales will be donated to Fashion Revolution campaigns for a clean, safe, fair, transparent, and accountable fashion industry, through education, collaboration, mobilisation, and advocacy.

The exclusive packaging design was created by a local Vancouver artist, Marissa Schiesser. Her piece called “Reduce x Recreate” points to the issue of microplastics.

“Our best moments include ones where we reduce our environmental impact and use creativity to renew hope. Creating plastic-free and responsibly made products is both a science and an art. We have endless opportunity for innovative changes that positively impact our communities and environment.”
- Marissa Schiesser

Laundry Detergent Strips

  • Pre-portioned to contain exactly the detergent needed for one load of laundry
  • Completely dissolvable in hot or cold water
  • Compatible for all washing machines, including HE
  • Safe for hand-washing, and septic system friendly

PLUS, they’re free from hormone disrupting parabens, phosphates, added dyes, chlorine bleach, 1,4 dioxane, SLS, animal products, and formaldehyde. Safe for clothing, bodies and waterways!

Fashion – and clothing care – doesn’t have to damage the environment, ecosystems, or health – and your everyday choices can make a difference!

REFERENCES:

1.    Assessment of polyester and viscose, Waterfootprint.Org, 2019. Retrieved from: https://waterfootprint.org/media/downloads/WFA_Polyester_and__Viscose_2017.pdf

2.    Blackburn, Kirsty, Green, Dannielle. The potential effects of microplastics on human health: What is known and what is unknown. 42022 Mar;51(3):518-530. Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34185251/#:~:text=Whilst%20definitive%20evidence%20linking%20microplastic%20consumption%20to%20human,stress%20responses%20and%20inducing%20reproductive%20and%20developmental%20toxicity.

3.    Issac, Merlin N and Kandasubramanian, Balasubramanian. Effect of microplastics in water and aquatic systems. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2021; 28(16): 19544–19562. Retrieved from : https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7924819/#:~:text=Surging%20dismissal%20of%20plastics%20into%20water%20resources%20results,of%20noxious%20wastes%2C%20thereby%20disturbing%20their%20physiological%20functions.

4.    Koelmans, Albert A. et. Al., (2019).  Microplastics in freshwaters and drinking water: Critical review and assessment of data quality. Water Research, Volume 155, 15 May 2019, Pages 410-422. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0043135419301794

5.    National Geographic https://education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/microplastics

6.    Science Daily. Lund University. Brain damage in fish from plastic nanoparticles in water. September 25, 2017, Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/09/170925104730.htm

7.    Tearfund, Fauna & Flora International (FFI), WasteAid and The Institute of Development Studies (IDS). NO TIME TO WASTE. Tackling the plastic pollution crisis before it’s too late. 2019. Retrieved from: https://wasteaid.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/2019-Tearfund-Consortium-No-time-to-waste-En.pdf

8.    WHO Microplastics in drinking-water (2019)  https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789241516198

9.    Yi-Wen Lin / Jennie. (2022) Microplastic Pollution and the Fast Fashion Industry. Concordia Precious Plastic Project (CP3). Retrieved from: https://www.cp3montreal.com/articles/microplastic-pollution-and-the-fast-fashion industry#:~:text=The%20fashion%20industry%20is%20a%20major%20source%20of,most%20frequently%20used%20plastic%20material%20in%20textile%20production.