Staying dry in heavy rains can be a difficult challenge in which synthetic materials have found excellent application for.
However plastics have been proven to leach harmful chemicals with acute toxicity in water in very short periods of 24-72 hrs, (Lithner D, 2011). The lifespan and decomposition of plastic has created extreme ecological global problems. Plastic does not bio-degrade but instead degrades into micro-plastics resulting from environmental degradation, like UV radiation, and abrasion, the same way boulders become sand, (Dris, 2015). This rogue plastic is known to entangle wildlife or be consumed by wildlife, who confuse it for food often leading to starvation, (Mendoza, 2015). These degraded forms of plastic have been found in such small sizes that scanning electron microscopes were used to view them, (Mendoza, 2015). A single wash of synthetic material can produce 1900 fiber which directly enters the wastewater, (Dris, 2015).
Waxed canvas, Wool and rubber are three alternative options, as are woven plant fibers like grasses, palm leaves, cedar bark strips, and spruce roots.
Woven plant fibers like straw and cedar bark were both used traditionally in areas of high rain fall, along the coasts of Asia and Pacific Coat of British Columbia, as well as in other cultures around the word. Another example of Nature providing the essentials around you for what is needed.
These fibers when woven together are highly water resistant causing raindrops to flows across the fibers of the mat.
Mino (straw cape) Japan.
Pacific Coast Haida
Kwakwaka’wakw woman with cedar bark hat and cloak. Photo: Edward S.
Haida, spruce root hat.
Dris, R., Imhof, H., Sanchez, W., Gasperi, J., Galgani, F., Tassin, B., & Laforsch, C. (2015). Beyond the ocean: Contamination of freshwater ecosystems with (micro-)plastic particles. Environ. Chem. Environmental Chemistry, 12(5), 539.
Lithner, D., Nordensvan, I., & Dave, G. (2011). Comparative acute toxicity of leachates from plastic products made of polypropylene, polyethylene, PVC, acrylonitrile–butadiene–styrene, and epoxy to Daphnia magna. Environmental Science and Pollution Research Environ Sci Pollut Res, 19(5), 1763-1772.
Mendoza, L. M., & Jones, P. R. (2015). Characterisation of microplastics and toxic chemicals extracted from microplastic samples from the North Pacific Gyre. Environ. Chem. Environmental Chemistry, 12(5), 611.