By Anastasia Ovchinnikova
Saving the World from Microplastics: starting with how you wash your clothes
Every time we do the laundry, our clothes release hundreds of small synthetic fibers called microfibers. These micro plastics are so tiny they go down the drains and eventually end up directly in our waterways. Keep reading to discover ways we can protect our oceans from these harmful plastics…
As if the news about the polluting fashion industry weren’t upsetting enough…the microfibers (aka the micro-plastics) make their entrance in the scene (for those who don’t know them, allow us to present them to you in a moment). How should we feel? Skeptical about the secondhand clothing we bought or the upcycled activewear we thought of purchasing – thinking we are doing good for the environment? It’s like we are in a dead end.
Well, the good news is that there are ways to reduce these micro-plastics – and it starts with our washing machines.
So here is how to wear your recycled polyester leggings with no guilt. Keep reading.
First things first: What are microfibers?
Essentially, microfibers are a form of microplastics that our synthetic clothing releases every time we do our laundry. When the clothes release hundreds of these small synthetic fibers they are so small they end up going down the drain, pass through our water treatment plants, and eventually they end up directly in the waterways.
A study showed that each day the Hudson River in New York carries around 150 million microfibers into the Atlantic Ocean. Now this just one example. Think of all the other rivers like the Ob River, the Nile river, the Mississippi-Missouri River they all empty into the ocean.
And this is not the end of the journey for microfibers. Microfibers can be toxins to aquatic ecosystems. They can also act like a sponge and soak up toxins in the water. When fish and other wildlife of the ocean inject these microfibers, these toxins are released into their bodies, so often that eventually are consumed by humans too.
There can be as many as 100,000 microplastics in a cubic metre of ocean, researchers say, which are then eaten by marine creatures.
Where to start?
Okay, now that we established that microfibers are no friend of the environment let’s see how to reduce them. Here are some options:
#1 Buying clothing that are made from natural materials
One thing that could be done is avoiding synthetic clothing altogether. Fortunately, we already have a wide selection of natural materials available to us. Number one and the obvious one is organic cotton, then there is linen, organic wool and finally vegan silk. Unfortunately, as good as this solution may sound, this is not entirely realistic as we cannot change our wardrobes overnight to all organic and natural. Even if we could, still organic clothing at times can contain synthetic additions or stitches to make products more durable and optimize for confort, for example. Plus, there are other sustainability points to take into account.
As much as 60 percent of our clothing is made of “plastic” for different reasons. So now what?
#2 Cora Ball
This invention mimics the way corals filter water in the ocean, hence the name “cora”. All you need to do with the cora ball is toss it in the washing machine with your clothes and tadaa!
The ball will then do the work for you by catching those tiny evil microfibers in the washing. Research suggests that the Cora Ball can remove up to 35% of microfibers from a washing load.
#3 Guppyfriend washing bag
Another option for catching microplastics during washing is buy using a guppyfriend washing bag. The bag not only catches the tiny plastics but also the clothing inside the bag tend to shed up to 85% less.
All you’ll need to do is place the synthetic clothes into the washing bag, close it and toss the bag into the washing machine.
When microfibers are released during the wash, the corners and seams of the bag prevent them from going down the drain. Once your washing done all you have to do is scrap the visible microfibers by hand.
If you only have a few items, the Guppyfriend is your best option. While the Guppyfriend catches more micro plastics, it is a bag and can only fit a certain amount of clothing. But if you have many items (as most of us do) that won’t fit in the bag or you need to wash an entire load of synthetic fabrics, it’s recommended to use the Cora Ball into your washing machine.
OK, now that you know all about the Guppyfriend bag and the Cora Ball and where to buy them, you are ready to start your search for organic and recycled clothing from multiple websites at once.