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Targeting plastic pollution: Vortex Swim supported by NZ brand, icebreaker

Single use plastic is the most obvious offender when we consider ocean plastic pollution. Yet, one of the biggest offenders of plastic pollution is something that might not be front of mind: our clothes.

Over 35% of the projected 1.5 million metric tonnes of microplastics found in the oceans come from synthetic textiles. What’s even more concerning is the plastic microfibres shed from clothing are so small that they can’t be seen by the naked eye; and as such marine life are ingesting them. We are now also finding traces of plastic microfibres in our food chain.

New Zealand brand, icebreaker, notes that it ‘believes nature provides the answers’ and for over 24 years the company has been developing natural fibre based clothing. Natural fibres are more renewable, more sustainable and are seen as a better alternative to synthetic.

This June, icebreaker will partner with long-distance swimmer Ben Lecomte, to raise awareness of ocean plastic pollution and support research into the impact of synthetic fibres on the environment.



The ‘Move to natural’ campaign, linked with The Vortex Swim, launches in June 2019 with an epic journey across the Pacific Ocean. Ben Lecomte will swim 300 nautical miles through the plastic Vortex, representing the 300 million tonnes of plastic produced in the world each year. Commonly known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the Vortex is the highest concentration of ocean plastic in the world, from large debris to plastic bags to microscopic fragments and fibres.

The crew will explore and research the Vortex from Hawaii to California over a period of three months. Taking samples every 30 to 50 nautical miles, the crew will seek to be the first expedition to provide an extensive, unified high-definition sampling on plastic pollution across the Pacific Ocean, forming the first trans-Pacific data set.

Chief Brand and Product Officer, Carla Murphy, said “As humans we all have the capacity to drive change; and the more we learn, the more we can act and make positive choices. People like Ben are not only inspirational humans, they are natural progressives helping all of us see things differently, in a way that enables each of us to better understand and be part of change for good. Everything we do is designed to move people closer to nature and closer to choosing natural alternatives.”

“Microfibres are a growing problem because we don’t see them,” said long-distance swimmer Ben Lecomte. “But we now know that they are everywhere – we have very little knowledge of what impact they have on the human body. But we know the cause of it – mostly the clothes that we wash. So, anything that can provide a solution to that – alternatives to synthetics, such as natural fabric – is the way to go.”

He continued, “We all need to make changes, but to do that we need to understand the problem. I want people to understand that the solution is in everybody’s hands. We can make better choices and support alternative solutions in our everyday life. Hopefully, the more people who understand it, the more people who can make the right choice. It’s true when people say, we don’t need one person to do it perfectly, we need millions to do it imperfectly.”

The Vortex Swim sets sail from Hawaii on 8th June 2019, coinciding with World Oceans Day, and aims to arrive in California in early September 2019.




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