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The fight against microplastics

Microplastics in our waters is a growing environmental problem. Read about how we tackle the issue, our range of solutions and what you can do to help.

Houdini is built around the mission of having as little negative environmental impact as possible. And even though we have come far, we still have a long way to go. That is why we are 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 checklist, challenging their legitimacy for being produced. With microplastics, it has to be a joint effort between producer and consumer, which is why we have created this document.

Microplastics – then and now

During the last couple of years we have 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 have seen a few others doing the same, which is good news. Unfortunately, not all textile companies seem to think it’s their battle to fight – which in reality, it is. 

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When it comes to textiles, garments can release fibers when being used or thrown in nature as trash, but also when washed.

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 trash, but also when washed. Through rivers, streams and sewages, 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:

  • 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.
  • The mixing of fibers – Houdini never uses natural and synthetic fiber in the same garment as it increases microplastic loss and makes recycling difficult.
  • How garments are used and washed.
  • Where garments end up when worn out – Houdini encourages customers to bring their garments back to us for recycling. That way we take full producer responsibility, eliminating synthetics ending up in nature.

Lately we have also developed products in organic, renewable and biologically decomposable materials. Similar to that, new garment cutting and construction methods has allowed us to limit fiber loss. These product segments keep growing at a rapid pace, and the way we see it, should continue to be our focus. 

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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 have undertaken a number of measures to minimize the impact we make today:

  • Houdini partakes in multiple research and innovation projects to develop alternative fabrics and eliminate leakage from existing materials. These include The Alchemist, a new concept jacket padded with biodegradable Primaloft Bio and the new product Power Air Houdi that launches in spring 2019.
  • Houdini has initiated a number of cross-sectoral collaborations to speed up the innovation pace, crucial to solving the microplastic problem.
  • Together with GuppyFriend, we sell a washing bag to help you protect your garments. You can buy the washing bags in our stores and also in the webshop here. Find more information about how you can take care of your clothing.
  • Houdini is testing a number of filter solutions that limit microplastic leakage in the washing process.
  • Houdini always chooses the most environmental friendly alternative when such an option exists. This policy is dead rigid and is nothing we compromise on.

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 many times does the job. Letting air do the dirty work also keep garments in crisp condition 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 release fibers at a much faster pace.

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As end users, we sometimes forget that conscious shopping doesn’t end at the moment of purchase.

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 trash, or over-wash it, all work Houdini put into 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 can also 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 have 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

There are different options for products that limit or eliminate microplastic shedding. One option is alternative synthetics that don't have exposed microfibers but instead have an encapsulated padding. Another option is to go with a completely organic and biodegradable solution. We never mix synthetics and wool to ensure circularity. Two good alternatives in our S19 collection are: Power Air Houdi, a synthetic fleece without exposed fibers, and the Wooler Houdi, a 100% merino wool mid-layer.

More questions means more answers. Should you have any other concerns regarding how Houdini work with tackling the microplastic problem, please contact us at info@houdinisportswear.com.

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