You need a new golf shirt and succumb to a colourful, fashionable offering made from polyester.

But what is polyester?

It’s a plastic - you’ve just purchased a plastic shirt. No matter, lots of things these days are made from plastic. 

Next you fancy a break and book a beach holiday. There you are catching the rays and grabbing a handful of warm, golden sand.

Where’s all this going? What’s the connection?

Well, every time you wash your plastic polo shirt after playing golf it can produce 1,900 micro fibers. These are passed through the sewage system and into the oceans and washed up on the beaches.

Catch my drift?

That handful of sand you’re holding is also a collection of micro-plastic filaments. Instead of saying ‘that sand gets everywhere.’ You could say ‘I’ve got polyester particles on my privates.’

Researchers discovered this by separating the plastic from the sand and chemically analysing it, they discovered nearly 80% of the filaments were either polyester or acrylic, both of which are common in synthetic textiles.

No single beach tested was devoid of the coloured fragments of plastic.

The most-contaminated samples also originated from areas with the highest human population density, suggesting a pathway to the oceans through sewage.

To discover how the synthetic fibers wound up in sewage, an assortment of polyester clothes were cleaned in domestic washing machines for several months, researchers collected and filtered the waste water for analysis. The numbers were startling.

Ingested micro-plastics can persist in cells for months, moving up the food chain to animals and people who eat fish. More alarmingly, some studies show that micro-plastics can absorb toxic chemicals such as PCB’s.

What if anything can be done?

You can choose to buy natural fabrics for your golf shirts over synthetic.

Textile and washing-machine manufacturers could develop filters that trap the fibers shed from washing polyester clothing.

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