Yoga pants, and other clothes made from common synthetic materials, are causing the world’s oceans to fill up with minuscule pieces of plastic known as microfibers, according to a new study out of Florida.
The lead researcher on the project says she was so thrown off by the unexpected findings that she can’t even accurately assess the types of risks such pollution poses at this point.
Nylon, acrylic, polyester and other materials ― which are used to make workout pants, tops, fleeces and other leisure clothing ― are all petroleum-based plastics. They’re spun into tiny threads and woven together to make fabric. When people clean these clothes in a washing machine, microfibers are released and end up in wastewater treatment plants. From there, they travel to rivers, lakes and oceans.