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Microplastics - what we do and how you can help
Posted under Houdini

Microplastics - what we do and how you can help

Microplastics are damaging marine eco-systems. The need for a solution is urgent, and the textile industry is part of the problem. Therefore, Houdini see it as our responsibility to both inform end users on how to treat the situation, as well as to work hard to find a solution from a production point of view. This our take on microplastics.

March 16, 2017

Houdini’s built around the mission of having as little negative environment impact as possible. And even though we’ve come far, we still have a long way to go. That is why we’re now transforming our business to become regenerative – to have a positive effect on eco systems and societies dependent on their services. To do so, we measure all our products against our sustainability check-list, challenging their legitimacy for being produced. With microplastics, it has to be a joint effort between producer and consumer, which is why we’ve created this document.

Microplastics – then and now
During the last couple of years we’ve closely been monitoring the scientific output in terms of the microplastics situation. Talking to our suppliers, we also realized that we were rather lonely in wanting to pay attention to it from a textile point of view. That was then. Now, we’ve seen a few others to do same, which is good news. Unfortunately, not all textile companies seem to think it’s their battle to fight – which in reality, it is.

Microplastics are small plastic particles that originate from products in plastics manufacturing, or as ingredients in skincare, tires and toothpaste (to name a few). When it comes to textiles, garments can release fibers when being used or thrown in nature as thrash, but also when washed. Through rivers, streams and sewages and the plastics that the fiber contain end up in the ocean, and in the long run – in the tissue of certain marine animals. Although fiber loss is more or less inevitable in the washing process, there are factors that decide to what extent microplastics leakage occur:

1. The quality of the fiber and precision of manufacturing – Houdini only uses high quality fiber and precision manufacturing practices as this minimizes fiber loss and the release of microplastics.
2. The mixing of fibers – Houdini never uses natural and synthetic fiber in the same garment as it increases microplastic loss and makes recycling difficult.
3. How garments are used and washed – Houdini will soon release additional washing and care instructions.
4. Where garments end up when worn out – Houdini encourages costumers to bring their garments back to us for recycling. That way we take full producer responsibility, eliminating synthetics ending up in nature.

Lately we’ve also developed products in organic, renewable and biologically decomposable materials. Similar to that, new garment cutting and construction methods has allowed us to limit fiberloss. These product segments keep growing at a rapid pace, and the way we see it, should in the future be in the only thing we do.

Towards zero release of microplastics
Houdini participates in a number of research projects that aim to attack the root of the microplastic problem from a textiles point of view. But until we get there, we’ve undertaken a number of measures to minimize the impact we make today:

1. Houdini partakes in multiple research and innovation projects to develop alternative fabrics and eliminate leakage from existing materials.
2. Houdini has initiated a number of cross-sectoral collaborations to speed up the innovation pace crucial to solving the microplastic problem.
3. Together with one of the world leading home appliances manufacturers, Houdini’s testing a new washing bag that limit leakage of microplastics. The aim is to offer consumers a simple solution that also increases awareness of the problem. In this project we’re also looking at optimal washing instructions for specific Houdini products. The result will be published at our website shortly.
4. Houdini’s testing a number of filter-solutions that limit microplastic leakage in the washing process.
5. Houdini always chooses the most environmental friendly alternative when such an option exists. This policy is dead rigid and is nothing we compromise on.
6. Houdini has an internal deadline for when the microplastic problem has to be solved.

Use, reuse, recycle. And let air do the dirty work.
Do not underestimate the power of clean air. Most of us wash our clothes way too often, when the fact is that hanging your garment to ventilate oftentimes does the job. Letting air do the dirty work also keep garments in crisp condition for longer. Houdini products generally release very little microplastics due to the quality of our fabrics and construction methods. This has been proved multiple times by analyzing garments when new versus after years of heavy wear and multiple washes – the weight difference is usually very small. This contrasts vastly from “fast-fashion”-synthetics that shale of fibers at a much faster pace.

For the consumer, besides not washing garments too often and buying price-focused garments where fiber loss is a factor, making sure your clothes end up in a closed loop system limits microplastics from reaching our oceans. At Houdini, recycling, reusing and selling second hand are prioritized costumer activities. Should the end user throw their garment away as thrash, or over-wash it, all work Houdini put in to making a garment sustainable lessens in value. As end users, we sometimes forget that conscious shopping doesn’t end at the moment of purchase. Rather, we have to see it through to the end. To make it easier to do so Houdini has recycling boxes placed out where people use our garments, as well as in our stores and retail points. We also can repair your garments so that nothing goes to waste. If we can make all those points connect, and combine that with the ever evolving environmental work in terms of materials and production at Houdini – we’ve come a long way in decreasing our impact. The positive result might not be visible for us to see, but if you look under the surface – it’s right there.

Alternative products in the Houdini range
Buying or renting Houdini products means you can feel confident that the garment causes as little environmental impact as possible. Read more about why at http://www.houdinisportswear.com/se/sustainability.

Should you, regardless of the above, look for an option to fleece-materials, our Cloud Nine (C9) Houdi is a great go. More windproof than regular fleece, yet super light and excellent for layering. These Houdis are constructed using encapsulated long filament fibers that run minimal risk of releasing from the garment. If serious insolation is more important than extreme breathability, our Dunfri Jacket is a great alternative. (Read more about these products at www.houdinisportswear.com).

Being biodegradable, for those who prefer natural materials we always recommend wool. Unfortunately, many wool garments sold today are blended with synthetics, limiting recyclability. At Houdini, merino wool-products are always 100% wool or blended with other biodegradable materials such as silk or Tencel. Needless to say, fabric composition matters greatly, so be sure to check material specification before any purchase. Our Wooler Houdi is a good example. Made from 100% traceable and certified merino wool, it’s a biodegradable and warm option to classic fleece.

More questions means more answers. Should you have any other concerns regarding how Houdini work with tackling the microplastic problem, please do not hesitate to contact us at info@houdinisportswear.com.

Photo: Anna Öhlund, Lofoten

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