7 EASY WAYS TO REDUCE MICROFIBRE POLLUTION - Sustainable(ish)

7 EASY WAYS TO REDUCE MICROFIBRE POLLUTION

Plastic pollution in our waterways and oceans, and in our local environment is all too easy to see. 
Sadly it's everywhere we look - simply going for a 20 minute dog walk around my house can result in a bag full of plastic waste picked up.

But there's another problem caused by plastics, and one that's pretty much invisible.
Microplastics.
As the name suggests, these are small bits of plastic (I think technically less than 5mm in diameter) and lots of them are actually microscopic. 
They are so small they pass through the filters at water processing plants, heading out into our waterways and ending up in the ocean.

There are now more microplastics particles in our oceans than their are stars in our galaxy - terrifying stuff.

What happens to the micro plastics in the ocean is that they enter the food chain, starting off with tiny zooplankton, until eventually they reach us, and other top chain predators, and we start to accumulate teeny tiny plastic particles in our own bodies.

So it's pretty clear to see that micro plastics are an issue, and they come from a variety of sources, including our clothes.
Up to 700,000 microplastic fibres are released from a single clothes wash.
That's a staggering number.

There needs to be a LOT more research done into this, and manufacturers are already working on producing filters for washing machines to capture microfibres, but whilst we're waiting for policy and technology to catch up, what can we do about the problem in our own homes?

As with most things we start to look into around sustainable living, there isn't an easy answer, but here are some ideas to help reduce the amount of microfibres reaching your home:

1. WASH LESS

  • Only wash clothes when they are dirty!
    I had fallen into the habit of simply scooping up the kids clothes and chucking it all in the machine rather than sort through out the clean stuff, and now they are older there is actually sometimes some clean stuff at the end of the day!
  • Wash jeans only when they are visibly dirty
  • Sponge off little messes
    Like mud on school trousers, or flour from a baking session on a top
  • Do a sniff test on tops
    And don't worry about wearing the same thing two days in a row - how often can you remember what your friends were wearing from one day to the next!
  • Hang things out to air rather than wash them
  • Embrace the pinny!
    I'm not a careful cooker, so an apron is a great way to keep clothes clean and reduce the amount of washing I have to do!

2. FILL YOUR MACHINE 

Make sure your machine is full - the more room clothes have to move around, the more likely it is that microfibres will break off.

3. WASH AT 30C

Choose a gentle cycle and lower temperatures to keep your clothes in good condition.

4. DITCH THE TUMBLEDRYER

Tumbledrying increases the fragility of our clothes, and increases microfibre shedding in the next wash.

5. INVESTIGATE MICROFIBRE CAPTURE

There are some microfibre capturing bags (GUPPYFRIEND) and devices (Coraball) that you can put into your machine that might be worth investigating. These sound like the perfect solution, but at present they don't capture 100% of the microfibres, and there is still the problem of disposing of them once you clean out your bag - the advice is to put them in your landfill bin, but I have to confess that I am concerned they may them simply be washed out of the landfill sites and into the waterways when it rains.
I'm going to do some digging and let you know what I find out!

6. CHOOSE NATURAL FIBRES

Synthetic fibres like polyester are made from petroleum, and the fibres they shed are plastic.
Choosing natural fibres like cotton, linen and hemp when you are buying new clothes can help to reduce the amount of microplastics shed with each wash.

7. AVOID MICROFIBRE CLEANING CLOTHS

These were once hailed as the eco-friendly fix all for cleaning as they reduced the need for harsh cleaning chemicals, however little did we know then each time we washed our microfibre cloths and tea towels, teeny tiny bits of plastic were breaking off and ending up in the oceans.
Know we do know, it's time to ditch them.
Look for natural alternatives - I've ordered a couple of these heavy duty none sponges, I'll let you know how I get on!

Did you know about microfibres?
What shocks you most about them?
And what will you commit to doing in your home to help?
Do comment below to let me know!

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