7 Simple Ways to Help Eliminate Microplastics in Your Laundry
Washing our clothes is responsible for more than a third of the microplastics that end up in the sea, seriously harming marine life. Here are some simple eco-friendly steps that you can follow to help save our oceans.
- Ditch acrylic clothes
Synthetic fibres such as polyester, nylon and acrylic make up around 60% of our wardrobes meaning avoiding these fabrics is one of the easiest switches you can make. This includes polyester-cotton blends, although initial research suggests these may shed fewer microplastics than fully synthetic materials.
- Get a microplastics filter
For certain items, including underwear and activewear, it’s near impossible to avoid synthetic materials (in these cases recycled plastic can be a more eco-friendly option). There are products however that collect miroplastics released from you garments such as Guppyfriend and Cora Ball. There are also filters you can actually plug into your washing machine itself, stopping mircoplastics from entering our waterways.
- Pick cooler, faster cycles
Opting for a cooler and faster cycle on your washing machine could also lead to fewer micorplastics being shed from our clothes. A research article published in June 2020 found washing clothes at 15C for 30 minutes led to a 30% reduction in the number of microfibres released compared to a typical 85 minute cycle at 40C. Researchers say that if every household in Europe did this it could potentially save more than 3800 tonnes of mircroplastics from being released a year.
- Aim for full loads
Washing a full load is naturally more eco-friendly as it saves both water and energy but it can also lead to fewer miroplastics being released into the environment as it creates less friction between clothes as well as reducing the ration of water to fabric.
- Avoid the delicate cycle
Research conducted in 2019 to investigate the effect of water-volume, agitation, temperature and duration of wash cycles on MF release determined that delicate wash cycles released 800000 more MFs per wash; as a high water-volume wash.
- Wash your clothes less
Washing our clothes less frequently is perhaps the simplest way to help tackle the mircroplastics problem. It also reduces CO2 emissions and means our clothes last longer.
- Shop secondhand
Washing new clothes releases more microfibres than those you already own, research shows that more microfibres are shed in the first either washes. That means extending the lifespan of the garments you already own or buying more secondhand items are positive changes you can make.
Ref: British Vogue 18JULY20. Article by Emily Chan. https://www.vogue.co.uk/arts-and-lifestyle/article/microplastics-laundry