Featured Seawords Article

Features Seawords Article September 2018

The Cora Ball to Combat Microfibers in our Oceans

Unfortunately it is common to hear news of single use plastics accumulating on coastlines and harming marine life. Plastics such as straws, plastics bags and single use cutlery are a problem -but have you ever considered that your laundry machine might be contributing to marine pollution as well? Microfibers are defined as a synthetic fiber finer than one denier, having a diameter of less than ten micrometers. This is smaller than the diameter of a strand of silk. These microfibers are extremely small and extremely abundant in our oceans.
Synthetic microfibers are particularly dangerous because they have the potential to be swallowed by fish and other marine life. Studies have shown health problems among plankton and other small organisms that eat microfibers, which then make their way up the food chain and ultimately end up on our plates. So how do our laundry machines come into play?
The large influx of microfibers into our oceans is coming directly from the clothes in our washing machines. Researchers at the University of California at Santa Barbara found that, on average, synthetic fleece jackets release 1.7 grams of microfibers each wash. They also found that older jackets shed almost twice as many fibers as new jackets. Therefore, every time you run your washing machine, hundreds of thousands of microfibers are being rinsed down the drain.
The Cora Ball is an extremely easy-to-use laundry product that is combatting this pollution. The Cora Ball is a plastic reusable ball the size of your palm that you simply toss into your wash load; this nearly effortless act catches up to 35 percent of microfibers per load! Inspired by the way corals filter the ocean, the Cora Ball collects microfibers into fuzz we can see, so we can dispose of them in the right way. Cora Balls last for years, are affordable and are making a huge impact.
According to Cora Ball researchers, if 10% of US households use a Cora Ball, we can prevent the plastic equivalent of over 30 million water bottles from washing into our public waterways every year. That is enough water bottles to reach from New York City to London. You can also prevent microfibers from entering our oceans by buying less clothing or purchasing secondhand clothing. Less consumption, less waste! These are just a few simple actions that can make a huge impact for our oceans.

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MARINE OPTION PROGRAM
Department of Biology
University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
2450 Campus Road
Dean Hall 105A
Honolulu, HI 96822

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