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July 2019 Issue
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The problem with our gear

Microfibres are everywhere – in the Arctic ice, the remotest parts of the deep sea, in the dust in our homes.

Outdoor gear is amazing. It is technical, functional, durable and even fashionable. But one word you can’t quite use to describe it is green. And I don’t mean the colour.

As we discover in our story ‘Microfibres, macro problems’, fleece and other synthetic garments are shedding microfibres into waterways every time they’re washed and even while we’re wearing them in the hills, leaving microscopic traces of ourselves behind.

Outdoors people are generally pretty good at leaving no trace, but can we honestly say we’re leaving only footprints when parts of our clothing, no matter how small, are being detected in glaciers and finding their way into the ocean?

No-one means for this to happen when they go tramping or put on a load of washing – I suspect most people would be appalled to find out about it and it’s only recently been discovered that we are inadvertently polluting the outdoors with our clothing. There are ways to limit this kind of pollution, though. We can wash our polyester fleece and other synthetic garments in special bags that collect any loose fibres. We can also consider the environment more carefully when buying.

Most outdoor brands are already environmentally aware and are doing their best for the environment. Increasingly, products are being made with recycled fabrics or recycled insulation to minimise waste. Manufacturers are also fine-tuning their construction methods to lessen microfibre shedding.

It’s a great start, but brands also need to do more to raise consumer awareness so people actually buy these items. I know the ‘green’ credentials of a piece of outdoor gear is not something I have previously given much thought to, but now that I know how some of my everyday gear can break down and potentially harm the environment, I’m going to make it one of my priorities.