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.
Cora Ball Backer Rewards
As a backer, you will be first to receive your Cora Ball(s) making you an early adopter of this solution to microfiber pollution. And, you’ll get to share with friends, family and neighbors!
Beyond the Cora, we have some additional rewards exclusive to the Kickstarter Community:
Invitation to join our Innovation Team: we want this to be the best microfiber catching device it can be, innovation team members will receive insider communications and opportunities to do specific tests and provide feedback to help us strengthen and improve our design.
Join us on American Promise: Our work on Rozalia Project's oceanographic research vessel, American Promise, played a vital role in learning about the problem of microfiber pollution and developing a solution. She is a very special boat; a world-record holder and the greenest sailing research vessel in the world. Our top reward levels offer opportunities for a personalized tour, lunch or dinner with the captain, crew and at least one member of the Cora Ball inventor team and, at the $5,000 level, a full weekend as part of the crew working to protect the ocean on the Gulf of Maine. Read more about this extraordinary boat here and watch videos from various expeditions here.
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.
Risks and challenges
The biggest challenge we foresee has to do with the timing of getting Cora Balls out the door, rather than with making them in the first place. We’ve tried to share a reasonable and achievable timeline for you to expect your rewards. We built in some extra time, but that could change due to unforeseen issues with manufacturing. We will keep in contact with you and share milestones as they happen. if there is a hold-up, we will explain why; if not, come July, we hope to be happily shipping Coras all over the world to get to work protecting our waterways.
As a team of scientists, educators, ship captains and ocean-lovers, we know that we don’t know everything about bringing a product to market. But, we do know about attention to detail and that not everything happens to plan (especially as sailors and field-scientists dealing with changes in the weather). So, we have added people who do know about manufacturing and products to the team, we’ve paid attention and worked hard to control the control-ables just like we would on our research vessel. And, just like when we are at sea, we will address whatever challenges we face by gathering all available information, assessing the options and making decisions, in this case, with the success of the Cora Ball, our team and our backers in mind.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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