Swedish Public Radio reports today that with the use of a new filter and new methods (such as taking surface water – plastic floats), a research team has found large amounts of plastic fibres in watercourses in Sweden. With previous findings being between 1 and 20 fibres per cubic meter (approx. 35 cubic feet), the preliminary results of 10,000 fibres per cubic meter are alarming, to say the least.
The research team is currently working on a theory which explains the existence of such high quantities with rubber tyres and synthetic clothes, giving off the fibers. Regarding natural clothes (cotton etc.), they too come steeped in plastic fibres these days, says Fredrik Norén, part of the research team. (Which incidentally is why I wash new clothes before I wear them, letting the big machines at the local laundromat worry about the problem…)
The clothes theory gives a troubling insight into exactly how much plastic we use these days, and for what. It also pushes us to ask “why though?” Any takers on that, feel free to post comments. When the research project is finished, I hope to follow this up.
[As a side note for the linguists out there, can you tell where in this post you find UK English? I had fun writing this up.]