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Know the West

Pervasive plastics vs. tech clothes


Regarding microplastics in “Welcome to the Plastocene,” (HCN, 11/26/18) and the letter “Patagonia’s plastics” (HCN, 12/24/18), it feels like we’re continuing to jump on the last thing we heard, like it’s our biggest issue, while forgetting about the bigger underlying reasons for the problem. Plastics in outdoor clothing is certainly a concern, but it’s dwarfed compared to the general once-through plastic that pervades every aspect of our existence in this modern world of convenience.

I have been working for years to eliminate plastics from my life: refusing to buy bottled water or use plastic grocery bags, asking the meat counter for meat packaged in paper, keeping my own stainless steel cup handy to avoid to-go cups with plastic lids, and so on. I even make my own personal care products, deodorant, tooth powder and liquid soap, which my partner and I sell locally. I haven’t thrown a toothpaste tube away in probably 10 years, preferring to refill and re-use my same plastic bottle repeatedly.

Once habits that avoid plastic are established, they take hold and are hard to break. We all make purchasing decisions every day of our lives that either help to reduce the problem of plastic or contribute to it. Until we can get control of all the other simple ways we can say no to the once-through plastic that is 99 percent of the problem, I’m not going to get too excited about a few fibers from my tech clothes.  

Julie Smith
Golden, Colorado