Look Out 2017: Microfibers Movie is Coming!

In the fall of 2016, we wrote to Story of Stuff members and asked you to support the production of an animated Story of Stuff Project video on plastic microfibers—the tiny bits of plastic released when clothing made from synthetic fabrics are washed. We were humbled and grateful at the immediate outpouring of donations… over $20,000 and counting. This Community continues to be deeply committed to the storytelling that powers change. I wanted to personally thank you for your support, and give you an update on the video’s production.

Working on this project has been a real eye opener for us. Our research for the video revealed that 52% of all fabric on Earth—from underwear to yoga pants—is made of synthetic (plastic) fibers. And the trend is towards more synthetic fabric, not less, which means more shedding of microfibers into the environment, more plastic in fish and, potentially, more plastic in us.

We’ve also learned that the best estimate for how many of these fibers are currently in the oceans is about 1.4 million trillion. (Yes, you read that right.) In fact, microfibers are the single largest (by count) contributor to plastic pollution in our watersheds and, because of their size and availability to living things, they’re a really big problem.

Unfortunately, unlike microbeads—the tiny bits of plastic in personal care products that our Community helped to ban in the United States late last year—there is no simple off-the-shelf solution to microfiber pollution. It could be washing machine filters, could be new kinds of materials, could be changes in the ways current materials are constituted, could even be washing synthetic clothing less.

So, with this movie, rather than promoting a simple ban, what we need to do is unlock and encourage collaboration between the clothing industry, scientists, advocates and policymakers, so that we tackle this problem head on, together.

Some of the top clothing brands in the world are already taking this challenge seriously. And as we’ve been developing the script, we’ve been talking with them about their ideas and plans. But we also know that this video—and our Community—will provide even more motivation for the companies to solve the problem and be more transparent about how they plan to do so.

Over the last month, we’ve gone through several revisions of the script and we feel really good about where it’s at and we are confident that it will have a big impact. This week, our animation team is getting to work and we’ll be in the studio soon to record the voiceover. We’re rapidly moving toward our release date in January 2017… and we’re counting on you to help spread the word.

We’re both motivated by the really terrible impact these microplastics appear to have in the environment and intrigued by the systems challenge involved in solving the problem. We know we won’t solve it on our own, but together we can provide the spark to get everyone moving.

A huge thanks for your generous support!

 

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