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Mar 16, 2017

Microplastics - what we do and how you can help

Microplastics are damaging marine eco-systems. The need for a solution is urgent. This is how we are solving the problem.

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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.

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 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:

  • 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.
  • How garments are used and washed.
  • 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. 

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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’ve 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 are selling 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’s 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 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.

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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 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 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’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

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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