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We ask a lot from our outdoor clothing. They have to be built to stand lots of wear and tear, be easy to take care of and preferably be good at multitasking: keep you warm but also be able to cool quickly and protect us from rain while being able to breathe. Synthetic fabric helps exemplify all of these qualities and therefore, has for long been a popular material in outdoor products. It is light, flexible and can handle moisture. However, recent reports show that synthetics such as fleece emit microplastics that end up in our water systems.
Why do microplastics matter?
Microplastics are very small pieces of plastic that exist in a variety of products ranging from hygiene and beauty products to bicycle tires. Routine wear and tear causes them to break down into even smaller particles. Synthetic fabrics, widely used in the outdoor industry, release microplastics every time they are washed.
These released microplastics carry several harmful chemicals and in recent years, have emerged as a ma-jor cause of pollution in lakes and seas. Reports have also indicated that they have started entering the food chain through plankton and other aquatic animals.
What is Haglöfs doing about it?
We are taking a number of steps to minimize the amount of microplastics that can be released from our products. For instance, we only use high quality, bluesign® certified textiles with high environmental standards. This ensures that we are using the most stringent guidelines available when it comes to our use of chemicals, water purification and water reclamation.
A significant portion of microplastics emissions occurs when the garment is washed. To assess how many synthetic fibres or microplastics are actually released, we are constantly studying our apparel products after one, two and five washes. Based on the results, we make the guidelines for our fabrics even stricter and replace materials that have unacceptably high levels of fiber emissions. Our mid-layer fleece gar-ments, for example, continue to hold the same weight after several washes, simply because they do not release a significant amount of fibers. Additionally, they continue to maintain their warmth and appear-ance year after year despite repeated use and washes.
We are better together
Microplastics is a global problem and the textile industry is a major contributor. It is our responsibility as a part of the global textile industry to be part of the solution. We are actively partnering with other Swedish clothing brands on ongoing discussions with our material suppliers about how we can together help solve the problem of microplastics in the environment.
Further, the European Outdoor Group (EOG) has gathered major global players in the outdoor industry to raise awareness and develop concrete solutions on microplastics. We are proud to head the group along with several other brands, Scandinavian Outdoor Group and Peak Innovation, as well as Leeds University and Biov8tion serving as scientific partners.
Together with several other brands from different industries also participate in another research project led by Swedish research institute Swerea/RiSe (financed by FORMAS, project number 2017-00959) which aims to minimize microplastics release by studying and modifying fabrics, but also altering equipment such as washing machines to become more effective at catching any stray fibers.
We do not want any microplastics to end up in nature because of Haglöfs. But despite our efforts to find solutions, there are already a lot of garments already in circulation that continue to release fibers. To en-sure that these products aren’t discarded, we are offering a laundry bag that ensures that no loose fibers enter the rinse cycle during laundry. The bag can be used for all types of synthetic garments and is availa-ble in our retail stores and online.
How you can make a difference
If you want to avoid having clothes that release microplastics but want to stay warm and dry, we have several alternatives available where the risk of fiber release is minimal such as our products in the Essens Mimic or Barrier families. There are also many other ways to take care of the clothes you already have so that they can last longer and have a lower impact on the environment. Here are some handy tips:
A sustainable outdoor industry.