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Icebreaker Partners With Plastic Pollution Research

Over 35% of the projected 1.5m metric tonnes of microplastics found in the oceans come from synthetic textiles. What’s even more concerning is the plastic microfibres shed from clothing are so small that they can’t be seen by the naked eye and marine life is ingesting them. Traces of plastic microfibres are now found in our food chain – even in beer.

Washing clothing can release up to 700,000 synthetic microfibres per full load and are polluting our waterways. The more discovered about the levels of plastic pollution, the greater the need to learn more and to raise awareness of the problem.

New Zealand clothing brand icebreaker, now part of VF Corporation, believes nature provides the answers and for over 24 years has been developing natural fibre-based clothing. It has partnered with long-distance swimmer Ben Lecomte, to raise awareness of ocean plastic pollution and support research into the impact of synthetic fibres on the environment. A consumer campaign launches this August.

‘Move to natural’ is a platform for people to raise awareness of topics that others will be able to learn from. It aims to ‘put a spotlight on some of the biggest environmental crises the world faces, enabling people to be part of the solution and drive meaningful change.’

‘Move to natural’ and The Vortex Swim launched this month with an epic journey across the Pacific Ocean. Lecomte aims to swim 300 nautical miles through the plastic Vortex, representing the 300m tonnes of plastic produced in the world each year, to arrive in California in early September.

Commonly known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the Vortex is the highest concentration of ocean plastic in the world, ranging from large debris and plastic bags to microscopic fragments and fibres.

The crew will explore and research the Vortex from Hawaii to California over a period of three months. Taking samples every 30 to 50 nautical miles, the crew will be the first expedition to provide an extensive, unified high-definition sampling on plastic pollution across the Pacific Ocean, forming the first trans-Pacific data set.

Following publication of its Transparency Report in 2018 and 2019, icebreaker was awarded an A+ rating in the Tearfund Ethical Fashion report two years in a row. One of its sustainability goals is to replace or reconstitute all remaining synthetic content in its product collection by 2023.

icebreaker’s Chief Brand & Product Officer, Carla Murphy, said, “As humans we all have the capacity to drive change, and the more we learn the more we can act and make positive choices. People like Ben are not only inspirational humans, they are natural progressives helping all of us see things differently, in a way that enables each of us to better understand and be part of change for good. Everything we do is designed to move people closer to nature and closer to choosing natural alternatives.”

Lecomte says he wants to be part of the solution and help educate people on natural alternatives. “Microfibres are a growing problem because we don’t see them, but we now know that they are everywhere – we have very little knowledge of what impact they have on the human body. But we know the cause of it – mostly the clothes that we wash. So anything that can provide a solution to that – alternatives to synthetics, such as natural fabric – is the way to go.

“We can make better choices and support alternative solutions in our everyday life. Hopefully, the more people who understand it, the more people who can make the right choice. It’s true when people say, we don’t need one person to do it perfectly, we need millions to do it imperfectly.”

To be closer to the expedition and part of the movement, icebreaker will create a platform for communication and participation allowing consumers to join the movement to natural. People can follow and get involved in these ways:

– Learn more and follow Ben’s progress at movetonatural.com

– Share messages of support and spread the word about plastic pollution research on social media using the hashtags #thevortexswim #movetonatural.

– Support the crew in September by wearing a limited-edition icebreaker x The Vortex Swim hat and 100% merino T-shirt, with funds donated from sales to support research into plastic pollution in the Pacific Ocean. Available at icebreaker.com, at icebreaker stores and key retailers from September.

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