Plastic pollution is coming from an unlikely suspect

Single use plastic is the most obvious of offenders when we consider ocean plastic pollution. Yet the biggest offender of plastic pollution is something that might not be front of mind: our clothes.

Over 35 per cent of the projected 1.5 million 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 as such marine life are ingesting them. We are now finding traces of plastic microfibres in our food chain.

New Zealand brand, icebreaker, believes nature provides the answers and for over 24 years has been developing natural fibre based clothing.

Natural fibres are more renewable, more sustainable and a better alternative to synthetic, they release far less synthetic microfibres when washed.

Washing clothing can release up to 700,000 synthetic microfibres per full load and are polluting our waterways.

The more we discover the levels of plastic pollution to our planet, the greater the need to learn more and to raise awareness of the problem.

Ben Lecomte

icebreaker believes that as humans we are all drivers of change, and with more information and research, we have the chance to reduce further plastic pollution to the planet. In June this year, icebreaker will partner with long-distance swimmer Ben Lecomte, to raise awareness of ocean plastic pollution and support research into the impact of synthetic fibres on our environment. Move to natural is a platform for people to raise awareness of topics that others will be able to learn from. Naturally progressive thought leaders and change-agents will put a spotlight on some of the biggest environmental crisis’ the world faces, enabling people to be part of the solution and drive meaningful change.

Move to natural and The Vortex Swim launches June 2019 with an epic journey across the Pacific Ocean. Ben Lecomte will swim 300 nautical miles through the plastic Vortex, representing the 300 million tonnes of plastic produced in the world each year. Commonly known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the Vortex is the highest concentration of ocean plastic in the world, from large debris to 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.

Carla Murphy, Chief Brand and Product Officer, 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.”

Ben shares icebreaker’s passion to challenge the status quo and people’s understanding of plastic. Swimming through plastic debris is not for fun, but it is necessary to raise awareness he 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 all need to make changes, but to do that we need to understand the problem.

Ben said: “I want people to understand that the solution is in everybody’s hands. 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
– Share your message of support and spread the word about plastic pollution research on social media using the hashtags #thevortexswim #movetonatural.
– Act. 100 per cent of plastic in the ocean, including the plastic microfibres from our clothing, is a result of us. Together we are accountable. It’s time to take responsibility and put our name to change. Watch this space for a consumer campaign launch this August.
– Support the crew in September by wearing a limited-edition icebreaker x The Vortex Swim hat and 100 per cent merino T-shirt, with funds donated from the capsule supporting research into plastic pollution in the Pacific Ocean.

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