By Brendan Mortensen SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — Microfiber pollution is a problem around the world that no one seems to be talking about. One Syracuse University student doesn’t want it to go unnoticed any longer and has a solution for how to cut down on it.
Microfibers come from synthetic clothing, like polyester, nylon and acrylic. When these clothes are washed, they shed hundreds of thousands of tiny pieces of themselves, called microfibers. These fibers go down the drain and to water treatment facilities, where only 60 to 90 percent are caught. The fibers that are not caught go directly into our oceans, waterways and ecosystems.
In the water, they are eaten by fish and shellfish, where they cause immune system problems and even cancer. When people eat these shellfish and fish, they are consuming those same fibers. Fibers have been found in agriculture and produce as well.
That is where Keppler and his invention come in. FibreFree is a microfiber trapping device that can be thrown in the wash with clothes. Here, the filter inside of FibreFree catches around 40 percent of microfibers in the water. The ball even follows the clothes into the dryer, too, where FibreFree acts as a dryer sheet, reducing drying time and puffing up clothes. It is a total laundry solution that does not make one change too much of one’s routine.
While it is too early to tell what kind of impact FibreFree may have, Keppler estimates that if one in ten households use FibreFree, it could rid the ocean of the equivalent of 35 million plastic water bottles per year. Keppler hopes to have the product on shelves within two years.