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Thread: Fleece Bad For the Environment/Planet?

  1. #1
    Super Member Jeanne S's Avatar
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    Fleece Bad For the Environment/Planet?

    I just read an Editorial article in our newspaper regarding fleece that was news to me. If it is true, it is definitely a case against the use of fleece in our quilting. I am curious if anyone else has read about this??
    According to the author, James Greiff, fleece was originally thought to be 'green' because it is made from recycled plastic bottles--better in fleece than in the landfill. However it is 'green' UNTIL it is run through the washing machine, which is when thousands of plastic microfibers get flushed into the sewer system and on to our streams, lakes, rivers and ocean. Fleece is polyester, which is not biodegradable, it is made from oil and like most plastic almost immune to the elements. These tiny bits of plastic end up being consumed by small fish and filter feeders like oysters and clams. The stuff can make it up the food chain and potentially into people. He says scientists are currently trying to figure out how much of a risk this is to human health. Also PCBs and other contaminants tend to stick to microfibers like these. One team of researchers gathered sand from 18 beaches on six continents, and none were free of microfibers: highest concentrations were at beaches around cities, where lots of people are washing clothes!
    Another major source of microscopic plastic waste are microbeads---those little granules in your body scrub, soap and toothpaste. Those tiny bits of plastic end up the same way. Microbeads are covering the bottoms of the Great Lakes, California has banned the use of microbeads starting in 2020 and New Jersey is too.
    No one is expecting states to ban fleece at this time. Some possible solutions are special washing machine filters, changes in the way fleece is manufactured to prevent this shedding when washed, changes to the municipal sewage treatment systems to capture these microfibers. Cotton and wool shed microfibers too, but those fibers are biodegradable. He suggests one possible thing to do for now is keep your fleece, but just don't wash it until it is really, really dirty!!
    I don't use fleece much, but this was interesting food for thought, and an issue to keep our eyes on.

  2. #2
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    interesting.

    I look at the amount of " stuff" in the nylon stocking attached to the washing machine drain hose and the amount of fluff caught in the dryer filter - so what you are saying makes sense.

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    I have heard about the micro beads in body wash effecting fish. I think more research needs to be done on the fleece. I imagine with any thing that is not iodegradable there is going to be some problems.

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    Good to know, I didn't know about the microbeads either. I used to make body products and I bought something similar to microbeads to add to my soap & lotions, but these were essentially little balls of hard oil that would dissolve in hot water or with lots of friction - I had to be careful not to add them to the raw soap when it was still too hot or they turned into smears. Seems like a simple alternative to plastic microbeads, I didn't even know they were plastic! That seems like just a bad idea right from the start.

  5. #5
    Super Member mike'sgirl's Avatar
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    Thank you for sharing. This is very disturbing. I don't use fleece, but for sure now, I won't ever use it.

  6. #6
    Super Member Buckeye Rose's Avatar
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    Fleece is no different than thousands of other products manufactured today. That plastic bottle for your water, pop, juice (and hundreds of other liquids) is just as bad if not worse than fleece. Basically anything made from "disposable plastic" will be tossed away, yet won't biodegrade for hundreds of years. So complaining about fleece is like flicking that ant off of your arm when you are sitting on top of their nest.

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    I've always hated that stuff, and now I have reason to hate it even more

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    Quote Originally Posted by bearisgray View Post
    interesting.

    I look at the amount of " stuff" in the nylon stocking attached to the washing machine drain hose and the amount of fluff caught in the dryer filter - so what you are saying makes sense.
    Years ago, I attached the nylon hose to the washer outlet. It filled up very fast, and several times caused backup problems. When we moved, I insisted that the washer empty into a deep laundry sink where I could put a large cupped screen strainer in. When washing fleece, rugs, or anything else that sheds a lot, I must check the sink strainer often, or face the flooded floor. I'd rather keep checking the strainer for hair, strings, fleece, etc. than pay the plumber when the drain backs up. I have a strainer in every sink in the house. I've found that the best source of different sizes of sink strainers are ethnic markets.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tartan View Post
    I think more research needs to be done on the fleece.
    Yeah, let's not rush into anything.

  10. #10
    Power Poster ManiacQuilter2's Avatar
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    THANKS for this interesting article. I never knew it was made with recyclables.
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    I just returned a cosmetic product I had purchased when I read the label and saw it had microbeads in it. I did not know about the problem with fleece, but will research it. I don't want to use fleece if it is as bad for the environment as microbeads.

    This is not just the same-old same-old plastics problem. The problem with microbeads is that they are so small the filters in sewage systems cannot trap them. There are currently billions of these beads in lakes, rivers and the oceans now. It's not just a problem of fish eating them and being deprived of nutrients. These polyester beads actually soak up toxins, so the fish ingest many more toxins than normal. And, of course, it is the small feeders who eat the beads, which then work up through the food chain to mammals who eat sea creatures -- including us. I assume that the problem with fleece fibers is similar.

    In any case, I choose not to contribute to the degradation of the environment for things that I know are damaging. There are many excellent alternatives to fleece and microbeads, so it's not hard to act responsibly.

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    You should see the air inside a garment factory where fleece clothing is sewn. You can literally see colors in the air. Years ago I worked at one for a few months. It was a factory for high end catalog clothing like L.L. Bean and Lands End. I quit because even wearing a mask at work didn't help, I would go home every day coughing up colored phlem. My BFF joked that she knew what I'd been sewing every day by the color I was coughing up at night.

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    We had to replace our septic system about 10 years ago. We chose to have the water that drains from the washer go into the yard to water the grass and bushes. It does not go down the drain and into the septic system. If you have a big yard, consider diverting the water from the washer into your yard, especially if you are in an area that rations water.

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    Super Member Tiggersmom's Avatar
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    We had fleece long before we had plastic, didn't we?

    I agree with more research, one study can be biased.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tiggersmom View Post
    We had fleece long before we had plastic, didn't we?
    No. Fleece is made from recycled plastic bottles.

    Cari

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    Super Member tatavw01's Avatar
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    Who did the study? Very important question!

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    Super Member Jeanne S's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tatavw01 View Post
    Who did the study? Very important question!
    I looked into this a little more. James Greiff is an Editor of the Wall Street Bloomburg group. The research study he quoted in the article is called "Accumulation of Microplastic on Shorelines Worldwide: Sources and Sinks", and the study was done by a long list: School of Biology & Environmental Sciences, University College Dublin, Science Centre West Belfield, Dublin, IrelandCentre for Research not he Ecological Impacts of Coastal Cities, All School of Biological Sciences, University of Sydney, AustraliaMarine Biology & Ecology Research Group, School of Marine Science & Engineering, University of Plymouth, United Kingdom School of Geography, Earth & Environmental Sciences, Canada School of Biosciences and the College of Life & Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, United Kingdom.
    Evidently this was published on September 6, 2011, in Environmental Science & Technology, (not one of my regular magazines!!! LOL) so is not new.
    I googled it an it came right up on pubs.acs.org if you are interested in a little light reading.

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    Power Poster lynnie's Avatar
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    I've been telling people for years about fleece being made of recycled soda bottles. that's why it doesn't stain and dries so quickly. Look at all the fleece Joanns sells and cuts daily. 2020 is to far away, it must be stopped in 2016. Find a new way of making it and the micro beads too. I don't use normal toothpaste anyway.
    put off till tomorrow what you can do today, and if you procrastinate long enough, you may never have to do it.

  19. #19
    Power Poster Onebyone's Avatar
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    Anything manufactured is not good for the environment. When we go back to wearing animal skins and living off the land I guess many will be thrilled that we are finally living green. Then one day in that future someone invents the wheel and off we go again.
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  20. #20
    Senior Member laynak's Avatar
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    Fleece works so well for pet beds....seems indestructible. It's warm and soft for them in winter too. This is disappointing news. I don't want our pets to be adversely affected (or anyone for that matter)!
    Seems that just about everything manufactured has ingredients that produce adverse effects on the environment and human or animal health one way or another.

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    We did have fleece that was a heavy weight cotton knit. I made some sweatshirts for my youngest using it, and she's 32 now. The fleece we purchase these days is not the same at all.
    A quilt is like a good life. It's full of mistakes, but, in the end, it looks pretty good.

  22. #22
    Super Member Weezy Rider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cathyvv View Post
    We did have fleece that was a heavy weight cotton knit. I made some sweatshirts for my youngest using it, and she's 32 now. The fleece we purchase these days is not the same at all.
    Sweatshirt fleece. Love the stuff. You can actually sew it. I think it's coming back.

    I saw a posting in a Babylock serger group complaining about the thickness of the "fleece" They were told to pound the seams.

    When it comes to fleece to make clothes, Polar does a thinner fleece that is fairly decent to work with. Not like the normal no-sew junk Joann and Hancock sells. Polar is more expensive.

    Now bring back the old robe velour.

  23. #23
    Super Member joym's Avatar
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    Thanks for posting......new to me and I do care about the environment.

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    Would this also apply to those using poly batting in their quilts?

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    I think we have to go back to the beginning of what we drink. What happened to good old water from the tap. Our cities spend a lot of money making our water safe to drink, and we go and buy more from the store in these plastic bottles, and it is way more expensive than gasoline.

    We have to get rid of all these plastic bottles and plastic bags. They are just cruel to our animal life, and in turn, cruel to us when we use these animals for our food.
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