Microfibre pollution from synthetic clothing is one of the biggest sources of plastic in the oceans. Every time you wash your clothes, garments will shed thin fibres that escape the filtration process, eventually making their way into our rivers, seas and air.
According to previous research conducted by Oxwash, scientists found an average of 40 microplastic particles per cubic metre of water in the pristine Arctic ocean. As well as this, 14,000 micro plastic particles were also found in the snow in the same region, while over in Switzerland, microfibres were found in the soil in the remote mountains.
Wondering what you can do to help reduce microfibre pollution? Take a look at the practical changes you can make today…
1. Buy less, buy better
Want to make a change? Step away from fast fashion and purchase items made from good quality materials that will last (avoid polyester if you can). Consuming less has great benefits on the environment, with previous studies showing that buying less also makes us happier overall.
“When shopping, always read the label,” Dr Kyle Grant, Founder of Oxwash, says. “Choose fewer items made of synthetic materials such as polyester, acrylic, elastane, nylon, polyamide and polypropylene.”
2. Reduce what you wash
Washing your clothes less often is better for the planet, helps to lower your energy bills, reduces your carbon footprint, and will save you money in the long-run. While some items need washing after every use (underwear, for example) see what you can re-wear before tossing it straight in the laundry basket.
Dr Kyle explains: “Assess what definitely needs a wash vs what you can get another wear out of. Simply put – wash synthetic items less frequently.”
3. Reduce your detergent
While detergent leaves your laundry smelling fresh, the experts explain that you can still clean your clothes with just water. In fact, washing your clothes with regular detergents and hot water produces microfibres, so reducing your detergent is a great way to help the planet. Top tip: why not use a laundry eco egg as an alternative to washing powder? Lasting for up to 70 washes, they are kinder to the environment and sensitive on the skin.
“A recent study at Columbia University showed that the amount of microfibres shed during a wash increased due to the detergents’ reaction with the fabrics. They found that laundry washed with detergent produces, on average, 86% more microfibres than laundry washed with pure water . So, forget the extra scoop for luck when doing laundry!”
4. Wash at lower temperatures
Hotter wash temperatures can cause more fibres to shed (and could shrink your clothes), so always wash on a lower cycle if you can. While some washing machine temperature settings go as low as 20°C, most cold washes start at 30°C . Other benefits of washing cold include reduced energy bills and longer-lasting clothes because it is a milder process. For any tough stains, simply rub a dash of stain remover on the mark before popping it inside.
Why not try this on your next laundry load?
5. Choose a washing machine with a microfibre filtration system
If you’re considering investing in a new washing machine, why not choose one with a microfibre filtration system?, you can also buy a microfibre filter to retrofit your existing machine. According to research last year, washing machine filters are effective and capture up to 87% of microfibres in a load of laundry, meaning every wash is a little kinder on the planet.
6. Use a microfibre catching ball
“More affordable still, use a microfibre catching ball or wash synthetic items in a specific microfibre capture bag to trap or attract plastic microfibres,” Dr Kyle says. These easy-to-use balls, such as the Cora Ball, prevent and catch microfibres shedding off our clothes in the washing machine.
Cora Ball explain: “These help prevent microfibres from breaking off your clothes, reducing the total amount of microfibres produced and protecting your clothes. Together, we can keep these microfibres out of our waterways and our ocean.”
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