Woman wey wear sequin

Wia dis foto come from, Getty Images

By Navin Singh Khadka

Environment correspondent, BBC World Service

Christmas and New Year na party time for many – as e be occasion to buy sparkling new outfit wey dem use sequin decorate.

Sequine clothes don also become more common for some regions of di world for oda times of year – for example for South Asia, wia dem get di practice of wearing  lehenga, one long dress, and one choli, plus embroidered and many times sequine blouse, dey spread.

But clothes wey dem make wit sequins dey cause environmental gbege, experts tok, and wetin e dey cause plenti.

Sequins dey fall off

“I no sabi if you don ever wear anything wey get sequins, but I don wear am, and those things dey always fall off, especially if di cloth na from one fast fashion or discount retailer,” Jane Patton wey be campaign manager for plastics and petrochemicals wit di Centre for International Environmental Law tok am.

“Dem dey come off wen you hug pesin, or get in and out of di car, or even just as you walk or dance. Dem dey also comot wen you wash dem.”

Di problem na di same wit glitter. Dem dey generally make dem out of plastic wit metallic reflective coating. Once dem go down di drain dem go remain for di environment for centuries, possibly dey break smaller pieces ova time.

“Because sequins dey synthetic and dem make dem out of one material wey most certainly contain toxic chemicals, anytime dem end up – air, water, soil – e dey potentially dangerous,” Jane Patton tok am.

“Microplastics na monumental problem. Because dem dey so small and dey move so easily, e no dey possible to just clean dem up or control dem.”

Researchers reveal dis year say dem find microplastics for fresh Antarctic snow.

Dem don already invent Biodegradable sequins but dem never begin produce am plenty.

Party clothes na di ultimate throwaway fashion

Wia dis foto come from, Getty Images

Di charity Oxfam survey 2,000 British women wey dey between di age of 18 to 55 for 2019, 40% of dem tok say dem go buy sequin cloth for di festive season.

Na only one quarter of dem tok say dem no go wear am again, and on di average, some pipo tok say dem go wear di cloth for about five times before dem put am aside.

Five per cent say dem go put di cloth inside dustbin once dem finish to dey wear am and dis one lead Oxfam to calculate say 1.7 million pieces of 2019 festive partywear do end up for landfill.

Once dem land for landfill, plastic sequins go remain dia forever – but studies don also find am out say di liquid waste wey dey comot from di landfill sites also contain microplastics.

One group of researchers say dia study show evidence say “landfill no be di final place for plastics, but na potential source of microplastics”.

Dem fit dey dump cloth wey dem no sell

Viola Wohlgemuth, circular economy and toxics manager for Greenpeace Germany, say dem no dey sell 40% of items wey clothing industry dey produce. Dem fit come ship am go oda kontris and dump am dia, she tok.

Clothes wey dem decorate wit sequins go dey among dis shipments. Viola Wohlgemuth say she don see dem for second-hand markets and landfill sites for Kenya and Tanzania.

“No regulation dey for textile waste exports. Dem dey disguise di exports as second-hand textiles and dump dem for poor kontris, wia dem fit end up for landfill sites or waterways, and dem dey pollute,” she tok.

“Dem no dey ban am as problem substance like oda types of waste, like electronic or plastic waste, under di Basel Convention.”

Waste dey wen dem make sequins

Wia dis foto come from, Getty Images

Dem dey usually make sequins out of plastic sheets, and dem go dispose wetin remain.

“A few years ago, some companies try to burn di waste for their incinerators,” one textile factory owner for di Indian state of Gujarat, Jignesh Jagani tok.

“And e produce toxic smoke, and di state pollution control board sabi about am and dem make di companies stop to dey do am. Handling dat kain waste na challenge.”

One of di developers of compostable cellulose sequins, Elissa Brunato, don tok say she start am by making sheets of material then dem go later cut out di sequin out of am. To avoid dis problem, she move to making sequins for individual moulds.

Sequins dey attached to synthetic fibres

Di problem no be only di sequins, but di synthetic materials dem dey usually attach to am.

According to di UN Environment Programme about 60% of material wey dem make into clothing na plastic, like polyester or acrylic, and every time dem wash di clothes dem dey shed tiny plastic microfibres.

Dis fibres find dia way to enta inside waterways, and from dia go into di food chain.

According to one estimate from di International Union for Conservation of Nature, na synthetic textiles dey responsible for 35% of microfibres wey dey enta di oceans.

George Harding of di Changing Markets Foundation, wey wan tackle sustainability problems by using di power of di market, say di way di fashion industry dey use plastic sequins and fibres (wey dem find from oil or gas) also demonstrate one “deeply rooted reliance on di fossil fuel industry for raw materials”.

Dem don predict am say clothing production go almost double by 2030 compared wit 2015 levels, im add, so “e dey likely say di problem go worse if any beta intervention no dey”.