Today, we're diving into a pressing environmental issue that demands our attention: microplastics in synthetic clothing. These tiny plastic particles pose a significant threat to our waterways and marine life. I am happy to report there are practical and effective steps we can take to stop them from wreaking havoc on our environment. In this blog post, we'll explore the problem, understand its impact, and discover actionable solutions to safeguard our waters.
The Microplastic Problem
Microplastics are minuscule particles, often less than 5mm in size, that originate from synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon. When we wash our synthetic clothing, these fibers shed and find their way into our water systems, eventually ending up in oceans and rivers. This relentless flow of microplastics has far-reaching consequences for our delicate aquatic ecosystems.
Understanding the Impact
The presence of microplastics in waterways is concerning for several reasons:
- Environmental Impact: Microplastics can be mistaken for food by marine animals, leading to ingestion and potential bioaccumulation in the food chain.
- Water Quality: These particles can release harmful chemicals and pollutants, compromising water quality and threatening aquatic life.
- Human Health: As microplastics enter the food chain, we are already highly exposed through seafood consumption, with potential health implications still being studied.
- Each wash can generate around 9,000,000 plastic microfibers!
- Microfibers are found in bottled and tap water these days.
- 35% of primary microplastics found in the ocean today are from laundering synthetic textiles
- About 60% of our clothing consist of purely synthetics or a mix of natural and synthetic fibres.
- Thankfully blends of cotton and polyester release fewer microfibres than 100% polyester.
Solutions to Combat Microplastics
Opt for Natural Fibers: Choose clothing made from natural fibers such as organic cotton, hemp, or bamboo. These materials biodegrade naturally, leaving no harmful residues behind.
- Install Microfiber Filters: Consider fitting your washing machine with a microfiber filter. These devices capture the majority of microplastics, preventing them from entering the water supply. See https://planetcare.org/ I took part in their kickstarter campaign and funded for a wholesale amount of filters… so watch our store for when the filters are available to purchase.
- Wash in Cold Water: Using cold water for washing synthetic clothing can reduce fiber shedding, as hot water can loosen the fibers.
- Choose Eco-Friendly Detergents: Select liquid laundry detergents that are specifically formulated to minimize microfiber shedding. Look for options that are free from harmful chemicals.
- Utilize Microfiber Laundry Bags: Use a laundry bag designed to capture microplastics while still allowing a thorough cleaning of your synthetic garments. See https://en.guppyfriend.com/
- Optimize Laundry Loads: Wait until you have a full load of laundry before running your machine. Smaller loads increase friction between clothes, leading to more microfiber shedding.
Protecting our waterways from microplastics is a responsibility we all share. By adopting simple and sustainable practices in our daily lives, we can significantly reduce the release of microplastics into our environment.