Plastic pollution in our oceans (and lakes) is growing at an alarming rate and this includes roughly 51 trillion microplastic particles. When we think of microplastics, we typically think of beads from cosmetic products or the continuous breaking down of larger plastic ocean debris. But, because so much of our clothing is made with synthetic materials like polyester, a leading cause of this type of pollution is the microfibres that shed when we wash our clothes. These fibres make their way down the drain and travel to wastewater treatment plants where up to 50% of them pass through into our waterways.
While wearing second hand clothing and clothing made from recycled materials is a great step towards reducing our climate footprint, we need to consider wearing natural materials like organic and sustainable cotton, linen and cellulose fibres to help fix this macro microplastic problem.
We can also reduce microfibres by responsibly caring for our synthetic clothing:
- Wash in cold water, only wash when necessary and wait for a full load. This reduces the friction between articles of clothing during the wash cycles which leads to microfibre shedding and it also conserves energy and water.
- PurchaseÂ laundry bagsÂ that can catch up to 99% of microfibres. Place your synthetic clothing in the bag before throwing it in the wash.
- Consider hanging your clothes to dry and when using an electric dryer, try a low spin cycle and avoid rinsing debris from the lint trap down the drain.