Reducing the release of microfibres from clothes

I’ve started this thread to get a discussion about microfibers. A lot of the information I share here is from the World Economic Forum.

60% of clothes produced are made synthetically from petrochemicals (e.g. polyester, nylon & acrilyc). Around half a million tonnes of microplastics end up in the ocean from clothes.

Microfibres are a pollutant, as explained by the Marine Debris Program, microfibers are teeny-tiny particles of synthetic fabrics that come off of our clothing while it’s in the washing machine, making them a type of microplastic. The minuscule fibers travel through water pipes and enter oceans and rivers, where they are often consumed by sea animals and pollute the water. Eating plastic can kill marine life; not to mention, humans often drink water polluted with microplastics and eat fish who have microplastics in their bodies.

According to a study published by the journal Environmental Science & Technology, and as reported by the BBC, researchers found that one item of clothing can produce more than 1,900 microfibers in just one wash cycle. And considering the fact that about 60 percent of clothing globally is made up of synthetic materials (which include polyester, nylon, and spandex), as Vox noted, it’s safe to say that most of us are letting thousands of microfibers into oceans and rivers on a weekly basis. (Or, every three weeks, if your laundry habits are as bad as mine.)

There are a few ways to prevent your laundry from sending microfibers into the water supply if you don’t want to throw them away:

  • Cora Ball, a hive-like ball made of recycled plastic that you put directly in the washing machine with your clothing. A study found that Cora Ball captures around 26 percent of microfibers, preventing them from entering the water supply.
  • Guppyfriend washing bag. To use the Guppyfriend, you’ll need to sort out your clothing that is made from synthetic materials and put them in the large bag, which is similar to a lingerie washing bag, but with tighter woven fabric. As Guppyfriend explains in its FAQs via the blog Fair For All Guide, the seams and corners of the bag will accumulate synthetic fibers over time. Once a visible cluster of microfibers forms, scrape it off.

Unfortunately, microfibers collected from both the Cora Ball and the Guppyfriend must be thrown in the trash and sent to landfill — not an ideal option, but of course much better than sending them into our waterways.

The website Plastic Pollution Coalition suggests: filling up your washing machine as much as possible, because a full load means less friction and less microfibers shed; washing with cold water, as hot water can release more microfibers; washing your clothing less often; and opting for clothing made from natural materials over synthetics whenever possible.

We of course should be buying clothes which are made from natural materials such as cotton.

Does anyone use any of the products suggested here (as I’m just learning), and what items of clothing do you find difficult to replace with natural fibres (thinking tights and light weight fleeces (which I have a few of and they’re very good!)?