Interview with Lauren Smith from Polygone about reducing plastic microfibre pollution from clothing
In this episode, we featured Lauren Smith, co-founder at PolyGone Technologies and PhD candidate at the University of Waterloo. By now, you’ve probably heard of microplastics, causing some serious problems with our aquatic ecosystems, and in turn, things like drinking water and food. When we think about microplastics, it’s easy to come to an assumption that most is coming from microbeads, now banned in many countries around the world, including here in Canada. Did you know that your clothing is also contributing to this problem? In this conversation, we talked about plastic microfibers in clothing, how they’re entering our waterways, the impact on our environment, issues with regulating the problem, and technological solutions, including via PolyGone.
Lauren graduated with an MES Sustainability Management in 2017, with a specialization in water from the Water Institute at the University of Waterloo. This connection brought her to the AquaHacking competition last summer, a “hackathon” focused on bettering Lake Erie. Here, she began learning about the microplastics problem and realized very little was being done about microfibres, despite their massive contribution to this problem. Since, she has been applying her research in behaviour change and decision making to this problem, developing her entrepreneurial skills, and working hard in the lab to create highly effective microfibre capture technology – the goal of PolyGone Technologies. Lauren is also a current PhD candidate at the University of Waterloo studying Social and Ecological Sustainability.