You might be making efforts to reduce single-use plastic packaging, bags, straws and coffee cups from your life, but have you asked your clothes a few stern questions about the pollution they create? Plastics end up in the water in different ways. Chances are that most of your favourite outfits are carrying a guilty secret known as…microfibers.
WHAT ARE MICROFIBERS?
Synthetic materials like polyester, nylon or acrylic are our most common fashion fabrics. They’re tough, pliable and their production doesn’t take up much water or land.
But these fabrics are made from chemicals. And they shed tiny bits of plastic fiber (microfibers) every time you wash them and every time you wear them.
These microfibers swim straight through our water treatment plants and join the other microplastics that have broken down from our plastic cups, bags and other stuff. Microfibers make up 35% of all microplastics pollution. They’re actually a really bad form of microplastics because they soak up chemical pollutants very easily.
Microfibers make up 35% of all microplastics pollution
HOW TO AVOID MICROFIBERS?
Luckily, the world has been aware of this sneaky plastic partying for about ten years now and many clothing companies are doing the right thing. They’re using natural fibers like cotton, hemp, bamboo and linen, which don’t break down like plastic fibers.
So go ahead and shop for natural fiber fashions.
Take it a step further by making sure your new natural threads have been produced completely organically, which means they’ve been processed without chemicals and taken from plants that were grown free from pesticides and fertilisers.
This is a huge market now, and the more we buy natural fibres the more choices there’ll be in sustainable clothes, bedding, towels and so on.
So shop around. Slow down and read the labels. Maybe ask your favourite fashion brand how they’re helping to stop the microfiber ocean party.
Opt for clothing made of natural fibers like cotton
STOP MICROFIBERS FROM REACHING THE OCEAN
But how can you help if you’re not ready to go full-on with natural fibers? Well, here’s a few ideas:
- You can wash your synthetic clothes fewer times.
- You can buy a front-loader washing machine, which sheds fewer microfibers from clothes than a top loader.
- You can invest in a special filter for your machines that will catch the microfibers that are shed from clothes during washing and drying.
- Various companies and organisations sell bags (sometimes known as guppy bags or guppy friends) that filter out microfibres. Simply pop your synthetic clothes into the bag and throw it into the washing machine. The bag will catch all the microfibers that break off during the washing cycle.
- And of course, you can buy fewer clothes.
Either way, let’s pull the plug on the microfiber party. We really don’t need them in our waterways.
Front-loader washing machines shed fewer microfibers