In late September, the 5 Gyres Institute in California and Materevolve organized a sailing research expedition in the San Francisco Bay for a focused conversation on solutions to microfibers in the ocean. A group of 20 global experts from the fields of microplastics research, the textile industry, and sustainable fashion were invited on board to workshop solutions to the problem of microplastics in the ocean. Dr. Shreyas Patankar, PhD was one of the experts invited on this unique expedition to provide insights from Ocean Wise’s work developing science-based solutions to microplastic pollution.
Over the course of the two-day expedition, much of the time on board was spent deep in discussions on the deck of the sailboat. Conversations were both productive and interesting – because of the diverse expertise of the participants, ideas for solutions were widespread and discussed from many different angles. For example, one exchange was about the upcoming legislative efforts in California and France to mandate microfiber filter installation in residential laundry machines (for more on that, check out our collaboration with Samsung on the newly released Less Microfiber™ Filter). Another set of ideas centred on end-of-life strategies for textiles – what to do with fabrics that have reached the end of their use – and solutions were brainstormed for airborne microfibers, stormwater runoff, and new materials design. A lot of ground was covered in just two days!
Shreyas was invited by the expedition organizers because of his extensive experience working on microfibers. He was also asked to represent Ocean Wise because of our history of rigorous conservation science, such as the research that found polyester microfibers to be pervasive in the Arctic Ocean, our record of pursuing action via partnerships with key apparel brand partners in the Microfiber Partnership, and our research supporting innovations from material startups to major corporations like Samsung. The most valuable part of the expedition for Shreyas was that participants were able to have in-depth interactions face to face. Time spent together in person really helps to promote new collaborations and provides a terrific opportunity to design solutions and make an impact together!
5 Gyres will be sharing outcomes from this expedition and continuing to stay connected with participants to keep the conversation going. We look forward to future opportunities to collaborate in reducing microfibers entering the ocean!
Photo credit: Benjamin Von Wong