We are eating our fleece. Every time we do laundry, our clothes shed tiny microfibers (including plastic), which go down the drains of our washing machines, through wastewater treatment facilities and into our waterways.
Everyone who wears and washes clothes is part of this pollution. Everyone who eats or breathes could suffer the consequences. Learn more about the problem of microfiber pollution here.
Our team learned about the microfiber problem while working on marine debris along the US East Coast. It became clear very quickly that this could be the biggest pollution problem facing our ocean. We knew we needed a solution, and the ocean itself helped us come up with one.
Design Inspired by Nature
Most washing machines do not have filters. The ones that do are only good to keep keys and coins from clogging your pipes. A standard filter cannot do what needs to be done: catch fibers too small for the human eye to see AND allow water flow.
So, we turned to nature. Coral does exactly what we need; it catches tiny things from flowing water.
You just drop, or throw it into your washing machine (any washing machine - front or top loaders, with and without center spindles) and do your wash as usual. It is easy to use and easy to clean.
Cora swooshes around in the laundry and just like coral, allows water to flow, while picking up those little pieces of microfiber and catching them in her stalks.
When you take it out of the washer or dryer, have a look. When you see clumps of fuzz, just pull them out and put them in the trash bin along with your dryer lint.
The Cora Ball was designed as an equal opportunity fiber catcher, helping you protect our public waterways from a host of potentially harmful materials and chemicals. In the US, our clothes are 60% plastic. The rest may be made from natural materials, but they are often covered in dyes, heavy metals and other chemicals. So, it makes sense to catch all of this manmade material before it ends up throughout the marine ecosystem, in the bellies of fish, and ultimately, on our plates.
We are working hard to find opportunities to upcycle or recycle the fuzz from your Cora Ball, the primary obstacle being the mixed-material nature of laundry lint (polyesters, nylons, polypropylene, cotton, wool, etc.). For now the trash is much better than the nearest river, lake or bay.
The Cora Ball will be made from 100% recycled plastic, both post-consumer and from manufacturing (would have gone to landfill). It is 100% recyclable and made in the USA (Vermont). Since we are using 100% recycled material, we have to go with whatever is out there. Most of it will be black, but every now and then, we will find a source for a color. So, the color of your Cora Ball will be a surprise of mostly black with either a clump of color or stripes.
Our design is getting the attention of industry experts, featured at innovation events and in a variety of media:
Protecting the Ocean with Each Laundry Load
This is about small collective actions having the power to achieve big results. If 10% of US households use a Cora Ball, we can keep the plastic equivalent of over 30 million water bottles from washing into our public waterways every year. That is enough water bottles to reach from New York City to London.
Your use of a Cora Ball protects both air and water. The Cora ball's design collects microfibers until you remove them and put them in the trash. That means they will not re-attach to clothing and fly off into the air - only to become run-off and end up in our public waterways anyway.
The team behind the Cora Ball is all about ocean protection. We’ve been on the case for 7 years and it was during this work that the Cora Ball was born.
Not only have we developed a consumer solution to microfiber pollution, but we are working hard to better understand the problem as well. We conducted the first mountains to the sea microfiber study, sampling the entire Hudson River from the Adirondack Mountains to New York Harbor where the river meets the sea (video below) because we know that the better we understand a problem, the stronger our solution.
This is a true social enterprise: the success of the Cora Ball first and foremost means a cleaner ocean; secondly, proceeds support Rozalia Project’s work cleaning and protecting the ocean and developing and implementing more solutions to the problem of marine debris. Learn more about Rozalia Project.
The Technology Behind the Cora Ball
Material: Made from 100% recycled and 100% recyclable plastic in the USA.
Range of use: Useable in your washer and dryer. We've researched the high and low temperature settings in washers and dryers and selected a material that maintains its integrity within these ranges.
Effectiveness: Catches up to 35% of the microfibers per load, per Cora Ball. The effectiveness depends on several factors including what items are in the load, wash settings and wash frequency. For maximum effectiveness, we recommend using 2-3 Cora Balls. We are constantly testing to learn how it works best and will always share our results.
Limitations: The Cora Ball was designed to maximize both effectiveness and ease of use. Also, we wanted it to catch fibers from all of your clothes and textiles without having to separate. That said, we recommend that you do separate delicate items especially those with lace, tassels, crocheted sections or frayed threads, and do not wash them with your Cora Ball, as there is a chance they get caught in Cora's stalks.
You will make this happen: This Kickstarter Campaign is the last piece of the puzzle, rather than the first. The molds are ordered, the patents filed.
This campaign is about production: As a backer, you will support the production of Cora Balls and help us get them to market faster. Getting them to market faster means we start protecting the ocean, its creatures and ultimately all of us, faster.
What surpassing our initial goal means to this project
Thanks to a community of amazing backers and people who will make a small effort for big collective impact, we have far surpassed our initial funding goal. We want to share what that means for the Cora Ball, the ocean and Rozalia Project, and how hitting this campaign way out of the park makes a difference.
1. It means a bigger impact protecting our ocean, lakes and rivers; the more people who have a Cora Ball, the sooner we start keeping microfiber out of our public waterways. And Kickstarter backers will get their Cora Balls first.
2. A large community of backers demonstrates support that will allow us to develop stronger relationships with distribution partners who will get the Cora Ball to a broad market.
3. Our initial $10,000 goal was the minimum it would take to go into production - this was the barest of minimums to make Cora Ball a reality - we would have been assembling them at the kitchen table. Exceeding that goal means a bigger first production run and correspondingly, a more efficient manufacturing and assembly process.
We are not going to mess around with stretch goals. We will keep spreading the word about this campaign and encourage participation. We will continue to work on streamlining our packaging and shipping plans. And we will keep in touch with you with updates as we bring the Cora Ball into the world and, together, make a difference.