Cloudy With a Chance of Nanoplastics

Jeff Scult
9 min readAug 1, 2019
image borrowed from the iconic movie ~ CWACO-Meatballs.

This title is not hyperbole: This is the non-naked truth of “whoops 👉 woah 👉 woke” regarding those 97% of clothes we not only toss, but also, every time we wash.

“If we keep going blindly as we are, a world of wearing masks outside to protect against breathing plastics into our lungs, is not just possible, it is 100% probable.”

-These chilling words were spoken by Susi Mai, the ocean preservationist | philanthropist, at her 2019 Ocean Cabarete Summit in DR.

Susi Mai, Ocean Preservationist, captured by Matthias Ruby

Three years ago…

I paused on an CNN alert where Ocean Scientists proclaimed that there will be more plastic than fish in the Ocean by 2050. As horrific as this sounded, to speak my truth here, the bigness of this statement, with a date stamp so far into the future, failed my ability grasp its calamity.

And now I understand why. Our human condition is our enemy of reality:

What we can’t see, we can’t identify.

And what we can’t identify, our human condition oft tricks and invalidates as falsehood despite evidence suggesting otherwise.

Morpheus the (supposedly) fictional character in The Matrix franchise, spoke of “our mind being a terrible teacher, a prison we cannot see, touch, taste or smell.”

The largely unseen trashing of our planet — and our suffocating the pores of bodies — from the overwhelming majority of clothes made of plastic we wear, wash, and toss is one of the truths within this condition, giving one of our largest industries, clothing, a failing grade.

The most wicked, twisted, irony: an enemy now disclosed by the experts to our well-being, nano-plastics, our naked eye will never see.

Translation: Without waking up to the truth, we are on a guaranteed spiral dynamic to being totally fucked as a species. And the innocence of the hall pass of all hall passes — the clothes that cloak us — will contribute to our malaise.

This irrefutable tension presents an opportunity to wake up, and transcend our human condition to live beyond the calamity of the consequences.

The bespeckled gentleman from the same film guided Neo said it best, “Free your mind, the rest will follow.”

Truly understanding reality, is a personal choice.

We are all late to the party.

Yet the very good news, is one by one, we are moving from harmed to armed, living in the sovereign choice to act with the next human choice of our being. Claiming our voice. By backing it by voting with our wallets. The energy that moves the needle.

Woke is the new cool, let’s go…

“It’s got to mean something to you. You gotta keep pushing it through.”

wrote most of this piece on heavy repeat. our drum beats…

An updated alarmist fact on the 2050 plastic-over-fish proclamation:

Reputable sources suggest it is likely far closer to “it’s already happened.”

Source: United Nations Ocean’s Summit May 2019
Source: World Atlas

It’s important to ask ourselves the question to understand:

What is the realness of this Ocean calamity?

Is it just an eye-sore trash problem of floating islands of plastic?

For me who believed the plastic problem was largely aesthetic, I had to think again.

When I saw images like the below, I thought of clutter and sadness of the animals becoming entangled.

Image Courtesy of WWF

What is happening in the Ocean is going beyond decimating sea life, it is poisoning the Ocean itself, compromising our atmosphere, and thus, our human heath.

Because we are waking to the most alarming environmental and climate culprit that left unchecked, will irrevocably compromise our ability to breathe as humans…

Plastics breaking down to microplastics vaporizing into nanoplastics.

Dumped plastics from car tires, water bottles and clothing, run from landfills and dumped into ocean, deconstructing into Microplastics. As the photo shows, they appear as Plankton, and fish mistake them for food.

Microplastics have been found in 83% of our drinking water, 100% of salt, and in 25% of the fish we eat.

And these number are express-lane trending in an irreversible direction.

Which leads to where else close to you trace plastic can be found:

Inside of YOU.

image: ELN/Shutterstock

New studies show we are ingesting the equivalent of a credit card a week.

Let that sink in.

The clothing corollary

What does this image have to do with our Oceans? Clothing has already cracked the top three most polluting industries, and studies show it will usurp Oil. (Source: Copenhagen Sustainability Conference, May 2019).

15 years ago, the food revolution began…

as we demanded answers of what we put in our bodies. How was the food made? What was the harm to the environment and to us? How do we absorb and digest? Did that animal just have one bad day?

And yet, what we put on our bodies continued unabated to receive a delusional illusional hall-pass of our collective consciousness.

Welcome to the last frontier. Clothing.

Four staggering stats every human shall now know:

52 million pounds

of new clothes are made every year;

87%

will wind up in an incinerator or landfill within 18 months. Fast fashion teaches us our clothes are disposable.

97%

of these are synthetics which leach and will forever toxify our soils and Ocean (Source: Copenhagen Sustainability Conference 2018), and suffocate our largest organ — our skin — and it’s ability to breathe naturally.

Back to Micro-plastics 👉

38%

of the Microplastics in the ocean come from our un-natural synthetic clothing. (Source: Mckinsey).

And here’s the kicker: It’s not just our tossing of un-natural clothing….

…it is also our daily washings.

  • Synthetic garments can shed more than 150,000 micro-fibers during a single wash.
  • In the US alone, we release 64,000 pounds of microfibers into waterways — every day.

Source: Ocean Summit, 2019, United Nations

The recap:

Our Earth & Ocean is being decimated.

Our sea life is being compromised.

Eating seafood is more toxic by the day.

And it all impacts our environment and well-being.

If you are like most humans, you are outraged and horrified, yet with no direct visual alarm bells in our present plain view, it’s simply still not a “this-moment priority.”

ONE MAN’S ENVIRON-TIPPING POINT

What does the deepest Ocean Trenches and our Mountain Peaks have in common?

May 29, 2019, at C2 Montreal.

Friend Yarrow Kraner, the pioneer of global think-tank Hatch, had just come from an Ocean’s Summit with impact leaders, and he dropped a WTF-mic before he turned to leave: “Plastics have now entered the atmosphere.

The atmosphere? Meaning airborne? I gulped, then googled.

I found articles depicting microplastics settling at the deepest depths of our oceans, becoming foundational to stack versus float. Awful, yet expected.

Then I saw a number of stories about nano-plastic particles on mountain peaks.

My logic mind dismissed as just plastic left there like the tons of trash left on Everest, or maybe plastic particles blown by the wind channels to the tops.

I was wrong.

Multiple studies are concluding microplastics have entered our atmosphere from Ocean condensation, nano-plastics rise into in the air fluoresce, into clouds, and thus, the headline image of nano-plastic rain is not a far flung thing.

Source: Eco-system Science Direct 2019

Let this sink in: It can, and is, raining plastics.

The sky is not falling. Yet.

Yet it’s crucial to know what’s falling from the sky.

And then decide if that’s the world we want to look up to.

This piece is not about pointing fingers, as we’ve learned no positive sustainable growth will ever come from blame and shame.

Rather than calling anyone out, we can all choose to call everyone up.

This is the time to make moves. “Didn’t know” is no longer an excuse for whoops. Woke is the new cool. What we each choose to do with that woke is where we soar or choke.

Quite literally.

So you ask …

What can I do?

  1. Say no to single use plastic. Buy that re-usable water-bottle that you refill. There are countless awesome solutions, here is one of my favs. Consider it part of your life-style gear.
  2. Unfuck your clothes. Stop buying fast fashion, whose low price wear-dispose-buy matrix model is the highest cost to both human and child slave-labor and toxic Earth. Buy clothes using all-natural fibers versus heavy synthetics. Care about our most precious resource, water? It certainly surprised me to learn that one denim piece in my closet took 2,000 gallons of water to make. Buy from denim innovators who are figuring out new ways with less water. Levi’s isn’t the only one. Do your homework beyond terms that give us a hallpass: For instance, did you know that “Organic” Cotton takes 3x as much water to weave than standard cotton? Buy from those who are sustainability-sourced natural fibers. Yes, it will cost you more. Yet it’s time we ask ourselves what is the real cost of that $10 shirt. The price for less is the mess that we are in. Buy for value, over price. Just know that the race to the bottom of lowest price comes with the highest tag — only our individual conscience can answer that one. And consider this: What’s the cheapest shirt in your closet? Your favorite, the one you wear all the time. We, and others, make those clothes, that Mother Nature would smile at.
  3. Challenge green-washing rhetoric. For instance, the buzzphrase of the day “Is it sustainable?” Wrong question. It’s important to understand that “sustainability” alone is not the answer — as that is at best “maintainability”. We can do better than maintainability as a goal. Ask of your fashion brands, “What are your regenerative practices?” This means using sustainably-sourced materials AND a business model of giving back more than receiving. All business can and shall be a collective force for social + environmental good. “Regenerative practices” is the new-new real-real buzzword to query.
  4. If you own synthetics, be mindful and wash less. Every washing pollutes our Ocean.
  5. Stop looking to activists for the answers. Focus on Solutionists and Proactivits practically attacking our problems with positivities and REGENERsolutions for today, not a promise for tomorrow.
  6. Support planting trees. It’s the fastest track to positive climate impact, multiple studies concluded.
  7. Own less things. Love more. Buy not for seasons, for life. Vote with your wallet. And not buying is also a vote with your wallet.

Our individual choices will collectively answer this question posed on a mural outside the United Nations Ocean’s Week this May 2019:

The truth? The planet will survive. Regardless of what we do or don’t do.

Yet as a human family, we get to choose our human experience in our home. Do we choose to fall prey to our karma or set the container for our darma? Because as they say, choosing karma is a bitch.

So maybe the answer lies in being incredibly selfish. Do it not for Her, do it for you, and your children, and your children’s children.

To borrow from wisdom from the “begin again” invitation of the red or blue option, Morpheous shares,

Movie: The Matrix

“There’s a difference between seeing the path, knowing the path, and walking the path. I am not going to tell you how it will end, I will tell you how it begins.”

And it begins with our personal choice to see, to believe, that we are the loves we are waiting for.

We are the Solutionists.

We are the Jetstream, the fastest growing timeless, ageless, borderless, boundless generation our world will ever know. The jetstream feeds the mainstream.

Better together, we are all the (re)generation — those who see beyond sustainability to a world of giving back more than we receive.

It’a not a dream. It’s the opposite of woo woo. It’s nature at the center of it all — our inner and outer nature, elemental and in equanimity.

We’ve got this.

Goldenly,

Jeff Scult, a fashion proactivist

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Jeff Scult

Jeff Scult is devoted to amplifying the gold inside us, to be the thread that unites us. jeffscult.com | onego