What might seem like a harmless household chore, your laundry routine, likely needs improvement. Not only does it require water, synthetic chemicals in detergent and energy to heat the water, but consistent washing of synthetic fabrics is producing micro-plastics adding to the growing ocean pollution problem.
The Damaging Effect of Microfibres in Washing Clothes
For such tiny, invisible pieces of plastic, microfibres from synthetic materials have a significant impact on our oceans. A recent study from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) found that up to 30% of plastic pollution in the ocean can be attributed to microfibres in washing clothes1. Alarmingly, just one piece of clothing can release up to 700,000 microfibres in a single wash and once in the ocean has the potential to end up in the food chain if swallowed by sealife.
Green Laundry Hacks
The problem of microfibres is widespread in fashion, but we as consumers can not only vote with our purchases (shopping natural fibre garments helps), but also change our at-home routines to have a lesser impact on the planet. Start by taking a look at how you can update to a more sustainable laundry routine and try implementing some of our green laundry hacks to reduce microfibres in washing water.
Do Your Research To Avoid Microfibres
Research not only the brands you are buying from but the fibres you are purchasing. Invest your money into companies that are working towards lessening their and our, the wearers, impact on our oceans.
Choose Natural Fibres To Avoid Non-Biodegradable Microfibres
Choose clothing that has been made from natural fibres, for example cotton and linen, as these shed fibres that are biodegradable, instead of synthetic fibres, such as polyester which is one of the main culprits for shedding microplastics.
Use a Washing Bag to Filter Microfibres
Our top green laundry hack to keep microfibres out of your waste water is using a wash bag such as the ‘Stop The Microplastic’ Guppyfriend. It reduces fibre shedding from your synthetic clothes then captures the few fibres that may have broken away, keeping them from going down the drain. The self-cleaning fabric bag is made of a micro-filter material that collects the fibres, which can then be put in your bin – currently disposing of these to landfill is thought to be a better solution than the ocean. We use it at home with any synthetic fibre clothes including the Go As U R Activewear which is made from recycled nylon.
Get the CONTENT guide on how to do laundry with the planet in mind here.
- Boucher J & Damien F (2017). Primary microplastics in the oceans. International Union for Conservation of Nature.