The bright laundry accessory offered to protect marine life from my clothing’s microfibres. But would it work?

The structure of the Cora Ball was inspired by the anatomy of coral. (Photo courtesy Cora Ball.)

There’s a good chance something you’re wearing right now will shed microfibres the next time you wash it. Microfibres are tiny threads made from synthetic fabrics such as polyester and nylon that are 100 times finer than a strand of human hair. They’re shed by fleece joggers and cozy sweaters, but also jeans and socks. A 2016 study estimated that 700,000 microfibres could be released in the wastewater from one laundry cycle alone.

The problem with microfibres, as with microplastics, is they’re a major source of aquatic and food chain pollution. Microfibres are sometimes mistaken for food by small marine…


How to choose sunscreen that protects both your skin and fragile marine ecosystems.

Photo: Rawpixel

You’ve just had a lovely swim and it’s time to get back to your beach reading. But first, reapply your sunscreen. Where did the old sunscreen go, anyway? According to one study, at least 25% of it washes off within the first 20 minutes of a swim. The result? Thousands of tons of sunscreen floating in the ocean, wreaking havoc on the marine biosphere.

Sunscreen chemicals can kill coral, impair photosynthesis in algae, and deform marine life. But if you pick the right one, you can reduce the environmental footprint of your next beach day. …


Recently, dystopian fiction has gone from being a genre of possibilities for civilization to a genre of probabilities for it. Orwellian language is used by political leaders in the media, calling lies “alternative facts” and truth “fake news.” Protesters all over the world have donned the iconic Handmaiden’s outfit from Margaret Atwood’s famous novel and television series to decry assaults on women’s reproductive rights. And it seems every week brings new catastrophic predictions from climate scientists, turning our newspapers themselves into grim prophecies of an uncertain future. …


The Decider looks beyond greenwashing to help you make sustainable decisions.

Photo by Fernanda Publio via Burst

It’s that special time of year when the air seems to suck the moisture out of every square inch of exposed skin. I only have to lick my lips a few times before finding myself in the vicious chapped-lip cycle. As a teenager, I swore by my little pot of Blistex. But when I started working at a health food store, it didn’t take long to find out the main ingredient of that and every other drugstore lip balm was problematic: petrolatum.

What is petrolatum, or petroleum jelly?

Petroleum jelly is a by-product of the crude oil extraction process. Workers encountered it on oil rigs in…


The condition first gained notice over a decade ago, and with climate threats worsening, we need to learn how to cope.

Photo: Rawpixel

When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its latest report in October 2018, I couldn’t tell whether I felt a sense of impending doom because of the climate crisis, or just general anxiety. I experience a constant struggle to balance pessimism with optimism, and the hardest of all to balance is my anxiety about what we’re doing to our planet.

I’m aware I’m not alone in this struggle. …


If everyone’s beloved sparkle dust is a pollutant, what are our options?

Glitter falls into that disturbing category of pollutant known as microplastics. (Photo: Rawpixel)

If the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “glitter” is children’s crafts, you’re not alone. But with grown adults embracing unicorns and all things sparkly, glitter is everywhere. Makeup, paint, card stock, lamps, iPad covers, candle holders, clothing, backpacks, slime… the list is endless.

I’ll admit: my love for sparkle runs deep. But only in the past year have I begun to question that love, and whether I should give it up in defence of another: the environment. Specifically, marine life. The majority of glitter is made from plastic copolymer sheets that are then fused with coloured…


Like many right now, I’m in shock.

Not because I didn’t see this coming, because I did. Close to a year ago at a family Christmas gathering, my husband and I both called it. Everyone poo-pooed our extreme prediction, but I can honestly say there was just something about it that rung true.

So no, I’m not shocked that Trump is now President of the United States. What shocks me is how many people I’ve heard who write off his racist rhetoric, his misogyny, his xenophobia, his blatant sexism and outright denial of basic facts. …


Beautiful European opera theatre
Beautiful European opera theatre

In my previous life, I sang opera. I went to university for music, got two degrees specializing in voice performance, sang in recitals, concerts and operas across Canada, parts of the U.S., Europe and the UK. During my time as a musician, I developed tools and ways of approaching my craft that not only kept me sane, but kept me moving forward.

Recently, as I’ve begun to take my writing more seriously, I have found that many of those tools are lending themselves to improving myself as a writer.

That rejection you got is nothing personal

In opera, you learn not to take rejection personally. You may…


I had the distinct pleasure of trying to find a Hallowe’en costume for my kids just two days before the actual day. It also happened to be the day before my daughter’s first Hallowe’en class party, so I didn’t futz around in the crap stores, or bother going the DIY route. This mama had to get shit done, and fast.

So there I was, lined up at the local Party City, about 40 people ahead of me, looking at a wall of photos of ready-made costumes I could purchase.


Canadian Thanksgiving was a big weekend for me, but it’s kind of complicated to explain why. All the same, I wanted to attempt it, to share all the big feels I’m feeling right now.

Two years ago, on Thanksgiving weekend, I realized I might be pregnant. In my mind, at the time, this was not a good thing. I had made the decision to go back to school for my Doctorate in Music (in Voice Performance and Pedagogy), and was in preparation mode. …

Glynis Ratcliffe

Mama, Writer, Feminist, Singer. Bylines: The Washington Post, Opera Canada, Vice Tonic, Chatelaine, The Lily, Lifehacker

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