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Reducing microfibers
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Catherine Jordan
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August 30, 2019 - 7:07 pm

when I went to the REI Richfield, MN store today to check on how REI is managing its fleece and polyester products now that the word is out about the significant impact washing such items has on the environment, the oceans, food chain and us humans.  The sales representative I spoke to was fully informed about the dangers of microfibers and even mentioned that I could buy a “GuppyFriend” washing bag to reduce the fibers that enter the water system https://guppyfriend.com/en/. I had gone to REI to purchase such a bag today as it was listed on their website at a lower price than Amazon and I wanted to support a box store.  To my amazement, he said that the store does not carry GuppyFriend washing bags.  He didn’t know why the store didn’t stock them. He said that now that people are aware of the dangers of microfibers, the manufacturers are looking for new materials to use but that “it takes time.”  We don’t have time. The oceans don’t have time.

I wrote to the REI CEO to urge him to take action now. I strongly urged him  to either remove these clothes from the racks or add warning labels to all fleece and polyester garments explaining the risks washing these articles of clothing have on the environment and recommending the use of a “GuppyFriend” washing bag (or other such effective filter) for all cleaning.  Also to add a coupon for a discount on the purchase of such a bag. If they don’t remove the fleece items, they should stock the washing bags next to the fleece garments to make it easy for customers to purchase them. To continue to sell these items without such warnings smacks of hypocrisy, like hospitals selling cigarettes or Coca Cola.

I told him that I am allergic to wool and I have depended on fleece products to keep warm. I encouraged him to develop natural fiber clothing that will replace these synthetic materials and market them as an alternative. I was pleased to read that REI had a part in developing the Higg Index standard for “understanding product sustainability” – hopefully that means it is a product that is not harmful to the planet. Why not list the Higg Index rating on clothes so consumers can make more informed choices like “organic” alerts consumers to safer food?

I think REI could be a leader in this anti-microfiber movement. I know My Plastic Free Life is organizing a petition. Are there aother strategies in place? 

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